Tribesmen need to return to traditional game - ó Domhnaill
Published 13/06/2015 | 02:30
Seán Ó Domhnaill never doubted that his old midfield partner Kevin Walsh would become Galway boss some day.
The An Cheathrú Rua club man won All-Ireland medals with Walsh in 1998 and 2001 as the fearsome partnership destroyed all round them for nearly a decade.
Ó Domhnaill has never been shy in calling out Galway teams that have failed since then, and he thinks the Tribesmen still have plenty of improving to do under his old mate's leadership.
However, he thinks Galway have the right man at the helm for the challenge. He puts much of his own success down to the influence Walsh had on him as a 20-year-old Galway debutant. He is well used to coaxing talent out of raw materials.
"Myself and Kevin would be very close. The one thing you know Kevin will bring is his leadership, his hunger, his strength, his never-say-die attitude," said Ó Domhnaill.
"But again that is easy for Kevin because that was how he was reared and he showed me so much. I learned a lot for myself as a young lad playing with him.
"But the problem is, it's different when you are there on the battlefield: these guys have to do it themselves and it is probably a problem this team have.
"In all fairness, when I was playing with him, he was the manager of Killanin at that stage, so he was always destined to be a manager. That always was there.
"I thought he might have been Galway manager a bit earlier. He has come in at a hard time in that there is such a huge gap to the top teams at the moment.
"The top four teams: Mayo, Dublin, Donegal and Kerry are way ahead and then there is such a gap, there are 10 teams who are all in that area. You are playing catch-up then. And Galway have and we have never caught up," he said.
Yet, after two U-21 All-Irelands in the last five years, there was always plenty of talent to work with for Walsh.
Alan Mulholland began the process of introducing the youngsters into his team during his tenure, but Ó Domhnaill reckons it is only now that they are ready to challenge at senior level.
But he disagrees with his old team-mate's game plan and feels a more traditional, attacking outlook could serve the talents in the county better.
"At this stage, I think we've just steadied the ship. The manager's job is to get the team behind him. Probably the resources aren't there with Galway being a dual county, but I'd love to have seen him bring in a professional trainer with Kevin.
"We need someone like Mayo have or Roscommon with John Evans and Liam Kearns. Instead of bringing a system to a team you play the game that suits the players - there is no point trying to teach 15 elephants how to play a running game.
"The likes of Mayo and Dublin play to their strengths and that is the most important thing. We have gone back to Tyrone in 2005, the ball is going back to the 'keeper - try it up the middle if it doesn't we will keep going back until we get the 'keeper who is free and we will drive it up the wings.
"And we will do it for 20 or 25 minutes, but we don't have the pace to keep it up. It didn't work in 2005, so I don't expect it to work now in 2015."
The last thing Ó Domhnaill wants is to start flinging mud at the Galway set-up before they have even tested themselves in the championship, but he thinks straight-talking is the only way to answer questions.
Like Walsh, he has served his time as a club manager in the county - he is currently boss at his home club after a stint with their neighbours Micheál Breathnachs - and he'd love nothing more than for Galway to surprise him tomorrow.
"It is hard, you don't want to be negative and I hope I am proven wrong, but I don't think so. It will have to be something we have not seen before from Galway, it will be a total shock if something happens.
"And the only way I can see that is getting two or three goals really early that would really give us a lift and take the wind out of the Mayo sails.
"It's a bad day for Galway football when the Leitrim manager comes out and says we are playing negative football and sitting on the ball.
"In saying that, we do really have really exciting forwards. We are trying to play a very defensive game, but some of the players aren't really able for it and aren't really buying into it, which is a very hard thing for Kevin.
"A lot of people are still talking about the Kerry game years ago and games like that. But supporters, we just want to see an improvement. Defeat was never a problem for Galway if we were beaten by a better team, but we have been falling behind a bit.
"If we go out and Mayo are the better team then fair enough, but we don't want to be shown up like we were shown up two years ago.
"Let Mayo know that when they do come to Pearse Stadium that if they do take the win, that they have earned it and have the scars to show for it."