The benefits of getting to the knock-out stages of the League at Division 1 level are being questioned by many, but Galway hurling boss Henry Shefflin is not one of them and he places great stock in the spring competition.
The Tribesmen welcome All-Ireland SHC champions Limerick to Salthill on Sunday week with Shefflin knowing that a win will be needed to keep their aspirations of a semi-final place in tact.
With five weeks between the end of the group stages of the League and the start of the Leinster round-robin series, the Kilkenny legend believes that there is great value to be gained from competitive games in the wake of their round two loss against Cork.
“We know that if we perform like that the next day, looking at Limerick’s performance (against Clare) that we’re going to be serious trouble again. We need to up it in training for the next couple of weeks,” Shefflin said.
“We’ll both be going hard for it in two weeks’ time and the winners will obviously be in a good position to pick up and try and be in a League semi-final and that’s where people are.
“The round-robin League finishes on the 19th of March and it’s a bit of a time until the 22nd of April (Leinster SHC round-robin opener at home to Wexford) so I think a lot of teams are targeting trying to get into that semi-final spot.”
Cathal Mannion returned to the fray as a second-half substitute in their defeat to the Rebels last Sunday but he hobbled out of the action late on after his hamstring “tightened up” again and he faces another short spell out.
Full-back Daithí Burke is on the comeback trail but still “struggling” from a groin injury while the St Thomas’ contingent of David Burke, Conor Cooney and Fintan Burke could see action against the Treaty.
“He’s struggling with a groin injury so he’s on his way back, he’s started running and doing a bit of training so he’s on the route back,” Shefflin said of five-time All-Star defender Burke.
“The Thomas’ lads are coming back training but most of the lads are there or thereabouts (in terms of fitness).”