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'If they're going to beat us, they are going to work damn hard'


Shane Walsh of Galway with Sean McGrath, CEO Allianz Ireland, at Croke Park

Shane Walsh of Galway with Sean McGrath, CEO Allianz Ireland, at Croke Park

Shane Walsh of Galway with Sean McGrath, CEO Allianz Ireland, at Croke Park

Shane Walsh describes it now as "the welcome," Galway gave Dublin when they went to Salthill two Sundays ago.

And he expects a similarly hearty greeting on Sunday, when the teams clash again in Croke Park in the League final.

Walsh's platitudes aside, there was an undercurrent of hostility in that draw in Pearse Stadium, a match which featured high levels of physicality and aggression that occasionally spilled out over the top.

Not then, what you would associate with Galway football over the past decade of under-performance.

"It's like anything. If you get a new manager in and they are trying to bring a new structure to the team it takes time," Walsh says about Kevin Walsh's managerial reign.

That spell has featured incremental progress until now, when they have gone through a seven-game Division 1 campaign undefeated, an unexpected route to Sunday's final.

"I know Kevin is there four years now and we are starting to gain the understanding as we go along," he points out, when reference to their system is made.

"The first year of playing, the tides were turning with some lads leaving and some coming, and it took those first few years to get their group together and build on that and try and get the process for that and get something that everyone knows what they are doing.


"It's not always easy because it takes time for players to adapt and I was probably on the biggest ones in terms of that because I was maybe a bit more free-flowing before.

"Some would say that's good for you but I'd prefer to be part of a solid structure that is in place for years to come so young lads coming through know exactly what is expected rather than having a free-for-all."

"I still think we are adapting," Walsh goes on. The results are saying this is a great system but we are still learning and when we train after games we are always looking at things that needs improving.

"It's not a thing that we won the game and everything is perfect. It's about getting more from the group."

In truth, Galway football had become synonymous with squandering talent and losing classics.

Recent criticism of their style of play has fallen on deaf ears then for Walsh, given the spell of irrelevance he endured in his first season with the senior team.

"That was the big thing, to try and get the base right and start from there," he outlines.

"It's our first year in division one, we didn't say we are going to get to a league final or anything like that.

We just wanted to be competitive and be there or thereabouts and push teams.

"So if they are going to beat us, they are going to work damn hard to do it.

"We have had a few breaks and you get those breaks but we always said you are where you deserve to be.

"And we probably just about deserve to be there and it's nice to be in a league final without losing a game.


"It's great for the confidence of the group going into Croke Park playing Dublin in front a big crowd.

"It's a great experience lads are going to get myself included.

"We have never played in front of a crowd, myself included, that is probably going to be there the next day.

"We wouldn't be saying our year is defined by this, but it's a chance of silverware and a chance to play Dublin in Croke Park."

The indicators point to a decent final, too.

Dublin have lost and drawn their last two matches respectively.

Galway are unbeaten this year.

They have also, in that game in Salthill two Sundays back, competed physically with the Dubs and almost won.

"You often see teams going out to play Dublin and they are beaten before they go out," Walsh says, "but we won't be looking at what Dublin can do.

"We have seen it before, we are long enough watching them on television to know what they can do to teams.

"We are just concentrating on ourselves, getting our own performance right.

"That is what is so important to us.

"If our performance is good enough, the outcome will look after itself, if it is not, we won't get the result. That is it at the end of the day."