By John Fallon
Galway football manager Padraic Joyce will be boosted by the availability of midfielder Peter Cooke for the new season but he will have to plan without the county’s only All Star of the last 17 years.
Ian Burke, a key member of the Corofin team which won three All-Ireland club titles in a row 12 months ago, informed Joyce before Christmas that he would not be available for 2021.
His selection at corner-forward on the 2018 All Star team was the first award for the county since Kevin Walsh was selected at midfield in 2003.
Burke’s Corofin colleagues Gary Sice and Jason Leonard are also among seven players who won’t be involved when the action resumes in the coming months, with midfielder Fiontán Ó Curraoin and the versatile Adrian Varley also dropping out.
Another midfielder, Salthill-Knocknacarra’s John Maher, who made his league debut against Mayo in October, is concentrating on his studies, while Gareth Bradshaw has retired.
Speculation in Galway that Tom Flynn and Eamonn Brannigan might not be involved is wide of the mark with both players committed to the new season, as is the long-serving Gary O’Donnell.
The return of Cooke is a big boost to Galway. He marked his last outing for Galway with four points from play from midfield in the All-Ireland qualifiers loss to Mayo in Limerick in July 2019 before moving to the United States for work for a year.
Cooke’s work for the Salthill-based tech company TitanHQ took him initially to New York and then San Diego and he missed out on Moycullen’s historic first ever Galway SFC title in October.
His work stint in America has ended and he returned home before Christmas and will be available for the new season.
Manager Joyce, heading into his second campaign, will also hope to have centre-back John Daly back in the coming months after the Mountbellew-Moylough completes his recovery from a second serious knee injury.
And the Galway management, which remains unchanged for the new season with Joyce supported by John Divilly, John Concannon, Micheal Ó Domhnaill and Michael Comer, will be hoping that former captain Damien Comer enjoys an injury-free campaign.
The Annaghdown clubman has been confined to two brief cameo appearances off the bench against Mayo in the last two Connacht championships.
Joyce is likely to bolster his squad in the coming months with members of the Galway U-20 team which he managed to the Connacht title in 2019 and more recently the side managed by Donal Ó Fatharta which defeated Dublin to win the All-Ireland U-20 crown before Christmas.
Galway will be in a group with neighbours Roscommon, Kerry and All-Ireland champions Dublin when the Allianz League gets under way.Tweet