Lyons hoping to make experience count in Shield bid
Joe Lyons already has three club All-Ireland triumphs to his name, not to mention the West of Ireland Championship that he won in 2007, but he's still hungry for more success at this year's AIG Insurance Cup and Shield finals.
Since moving to Galway Golf Club in 2003, the Offaly native has played in seven All-Ireland finals. It's the kind of experience he believes is invaluable in the pursuit of a second Barton Shield title at Carton House.
"I think the experience of being in the national finals so many times down through the years is certainly a benefit to us, we know what it's about," says Lyons, whose Galway side face Ulster champions North West in the semi-finals.
"Particularly for clubs coming out of Ulster or Leinster, it could be a one-off getting to a final."
In the case of North West, it is nine years since they came out of Ulster. Lyons won a Senior Cup with Galway that year (2006) and the men from the west took the Barton Shield title the following year. Another Senior Cup crown followed for Galway in 2009 at Tullamore.
"We're pretty confident without being over-confident. It's all on the day. We won't have an inferiority complex going up there," says Lyons, who at 43 is by no means the veteran on this year's side. Former Galway hurler Tom Nolan is as competitive as ever and the 52-year-old set a new medal-course record at Galway in the summer. His stunning round of 64 included a hole-in-one at the second.
"He's a very strong competitor," says Lyons of Nolan, who was part of the double-winning Galway hurling team in the late '80s. "He partnered me to a Barton Shield in 2007 at Shandon Park. We're the two survivors from that team. He's in good shape, has lots of experience and he'd be a good man in a tight situation."
Nolan's son Cathal is also part of the Galway squad and they were paired together for their Connacht semi-final win against Oughterard.
Maynooth University scholar Ronan Mullarney is another rising star for Galway and he partnered Colm Hughes during Galway's run to the Connacht title.
Should Galway come through against North West to seal their place in the AIG Insurance Barton Shield final, they will face either reigning champions Muskerry or The Royal Dublin in the final.