Galway midfielder Johnny Coen believes that a league campaign in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B has been beneficial to his side in blooding new players, ahead of a promotion showdown with Limerick.
The Tribesmen welcome Limerick to Salthill this weekend in what will be a straight shoot-out for promotion to Division 1A for next season.
While Coen admits that the All-Ireland champions would prefer to be testing themselves in the top flight, he feels that being in the second tier has had its advantages this season.
"With us this year it’s given us a great chance to give other lads a good chance to get themselves a start and give them a bit of game time," he told RTÉ Sport.
"A few of the newcomers lads as well have been put in there. Shane Cooney has done very, very well and Brian Concannon has really established himself as a right good forward threat as well.
"The target can sometimes be on our back but people haven’t been looking out for Galway a whole lot."
"It gives everyone a great chance and when you look back on previous years, we won it last year, you had Clare the year before and Waterford the year before – all teams that came out Division 1B.
"People don’t really talk about the league come June or July time, it’s all about the Championship."
Galway have won all four of their league games so far this season and Coen believes that because they’ve done so in Division 1B, they’ve been able to build momentum while at the same time going under the radar.
"The target can sometimes be on our back but people haven’t been looking out for Galway a whole lot.
"There’s been huge talk about the form of Wexford and the form of Clare getting three wins from four and how much they’ve progressed.
"The league will soon be forgotten about shortly but with the run of games you get and the huge amount of confidence you get from winning matches, that’s what you want."
Nevertheless despite accentuating the positives of playing in the league’s second tier, Coen is adamant that Galway want to be back in 1A for next season and that they’re ready to earn their place there with victory over Limerick.
"You want to be trying yourself against the best. When you’re growing up you want to be playing against Kilkenny, Cork, Clare, Wexford, all these different teams.
"That’s where you want to be testing yourself to see where exactly are you. Are you training hard enough? Are you at the level you should be?
"With Limerick we’re taking nothing for granted, they’ve been in this situation for three or four years now. They’ve really been looking for a promotion place from Division 1B to 1A, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us."