Kernan quick to impose his work ethic on Tribesmen
BIG Joe Kernan's first task with the Galway footballers has been to win their hearts and minds -- and he's succeeding.
Kernan has forged a formidable reputation as a manager, guiding Armagh to the 2002 All-Ireland title and turning Crossmaglen Rangers into one of the most successful and respected clubs in the country.
Nobody doubts that he knows his stuff, but he is experienced enough to know that players must buy fully into a new manager's methods if a team is to be successful.
That takes time, and as he faces into a big Allianz NFL Division 1 test against Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn tomorrow, Kernan admits it's a work in progress.
He got a bit of a shock with the drubbing inflicted by Mayo in Galway's opening league game but victory over Monaghan steadied the ship.
And even a second defeat in three weeks to Mayo in the FBD final, albeit by only three points, hasn't dented his belief in Galway football's potential.
"When you go somewhere new, you tend to introduce new ideas and different work ethics, and I suppose in fairness to the players -- and I'm not making excuses -- it's going to take me a while to bed in with them," said Kernan.
"On the first day against Mayo in the league, we didn't perform, but since that they've knuckled down and they've been a different bunch of guys."
Kernan wants a focused work ethic throughout each match and instilling the requisite level of intensity into the effort will take time. How long will it take?
"The way you do that is mostly through games because at the end of the day, seeing is believing," he said.
"As a manager you can write as much stuff on the blackboard as you want but it's all about what the players do on the field. It sounds simple, but one basic thing you have to do is when you don't have the ball is to get it back.
"And maybe that's one of the things that was lacking in Galway teams.
"They're fantastic footballers, they work hard, their attitude is right, so now it's a matter of getting them all working and all taking the same share of the workload. That takes time but how long is a piece of string? We can only be judged on what happens in this league and championship, but I'm not starting from scratch.
"There are good players in Galway. We have players that would walk on to any other team in the country.
"We're lucky enough it's early in the year. Someone said to judge us at the end of the year and I think it's the sensible thing."
The former All Star has two basic aims for the next few months -- first, to preserve Galway's status as a Division 1 team and then to have a settled team primed for the Tribsemen's opening Connacht championship game away to New York on May 2.
Priority for now has to be the game against Cork, who are unbeaten after their first two matches. Kernan and his men travel confidently and with hope of producing an improved performance.
"The Monaghan game was a very good performance by us and looking at the league from here, we have four home matches to come," said the manager.
"You're talking six to eight points to be guaranteed safety. We have two in the bag and we'll go down to Cork, hopefully stronger and with a few boys back from injury.
"Playing the likes of Cork is a challenge without a shadow of a doubt.
"As a manager, I'm going to find out more about players in games like this. After the Monaghan game there's a bit more buzz about the dressing-room and the boys are now looking forward to this match."
Looking further ahead, Kernan offered encouragement to veteran Padraic Joyce, who is recovering from an Achilles injury.
"Padraic had a wee bit of a setback which has put him back a few weeks, but he will be back for the championship, so that's not too far away," said Kernan.
"Padraic's attitude is 100pc. It's a credit to him for a fella that's been there, done that. He didn't have to do the hard work that he was doing. He feels strong enough to get back fit and hopefully he'll be back in early May, fully fit."