Monday 18 December 2017

Galway talisman Joyce signs up for a 15th season

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Padraic Joyce has confirmed he is ready commit to the Galway football squad for a 15th season after meeting with manager Alan Mulholland last week.

Joyce revealed yesterday he had put a troublesome Achilles problem behind him and expected to return in the next few weeks.

Mulholland had signalled his intention to speak to Joyce last week with a view to determining his enthusiasm for the season ahead.

"I am more than likely going to return at this stage," confirmed Joyce. "The injury cleared up before Christmas. It had been giving me trouble, but I've been doing plenty of rehab and training on my own," he said.

Joyce was Galway's top scorer with three points from play when they lost to Meath in last year's qualifiers and there was a feeling in Navan that night that, at 34 years of age, he might bring the curtain down on a wonderful career that reaped two All-Ireland medals and carved a reputation as one of the best forwards of his generation.

As time went by, the continued absence of the Killererin man suggested he was seriously considering retirement from the inter-county game.

But with Mulholland anxious to have some certainty attached to his plans Joyce has come to a decision and is expected to return to Galway training sooner rather than later and see some action at the latter end of the Allianz League.

Joyce will have been encouraged by Galway's trip to Derry's Celtic Park on Sunday, which reaped an unexpected four-point victory at a venue where so few visitors triumph.

His cousin Nickey has already made an impact on his return after missing last season and in tandem with Michael Martin, the star of Mulholland's All-Ireland minor-winning team in 2007, they inflicted most damage on the Derry defence.

Martin has so far failed to live up to the reputation he carried as a minor and two years ago Joe Kernan made a concerted effort to re-energise him during the earlier part of his term in the west.

But Mulholland may have more success with the talented player and last Sunday represents a decent start.

The other encouraging aspect of Galway's play was the success of last year's All-Ireland U-21 winning partnership Tomas O'Flynn and Fiontan O Curraoin.

Introduced to the senior squad after that U-21 win last season, the decision to pair them together in Celtic Park clearly paid dividends and could help to eventually solve a problem position that has been ongoing for almost a decade since the retirement of Kevin Walsh.

Mulholland has managed to keep a lid on expectations in Galway, and life in Division 2 gives them an easier environment in which to build a team.

But significant doubts still remain over whether Michael Meehan will be able to perform at this level again.

Meehan has damaged ankle tendons that medical analysis suggests will not improve and will have to be managed very carefully if he is to play again at this level.

Irish Independent

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