Saturday 17 August 2019

Comer: Our game expanding but defensive roots won't be dug up


Damien Comer. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Damien Comer. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Damien's Comer's season of frustration looks set to extend beyond Sunday's Connacht final as he continues to rehabilitate from a fractured bone in the ankle but the Galway full-forward lives in hope that he can mirror his playing and work colleague Paul Conroy's sudden recovery.

The pair work together as teachers in Coláiste Bhaile Chláir where Comer teaches science and maths and has been able to track Conroy's recovery from a broken leg sustained in last year's 'Super 8s' game against Kerry.

Comer has seen some of his own current experience in Conroy over the last few months and takes heart from where he is now.

"He went through a few bad days as well where he went back training and it just wasn't happening," recalls the Galway captain.

"He felt outpaced, couldn't get back to the speed he was at. Now obviously he's coming back from a very serious injury. Then he just turned a corner one week and all of a sudden that pain kind of went. He feels his speed is back up to near normal and he's back without a limp.

"It's great to see that, it nearly drives you on as well. I'd constantly be chatting to him and asking, 'When did you feel it that you could just turn the corner?' So I'm just hoping for something similar myself where the pain isn't as substantial as it has been."

Comer has not featured for Galway all year, one of a raft of long-term injuries they have had that have also kept Declan Kyne, Ciarán Duggan, Cillian McDaid and Peter Cooke out for the last few months.

And it has allowed him to assess Galway's style from a different angle. Amid much adverse focus he still feels they have to protect themselves, first and foremost, citing champions Dublin's structure in recent games as evidence that even they get bodies back.

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"I think every team is defensive now. I don't think you'd get away with that style at inter-county level. Corofin are a great side but it's totally different when you bring it to an inter-county level.

"One of the lads who was at their game with Louth sent me a picture when they were down to 14 men and there were 14 of them behind the ball. The Louth goalie was out nearly between the '45 and the '21 and it was just funny because everyone would label us a defensive team, and Fermanagh and a few others, but it's nearly every team at this stage.

"You'll see it throughout the championship. It's the way the game has gone. You'll defend in numbers, you attack in numbers but it's part and parcel of it. I don't know is it going to change any time soon. I think it probably has gone a little bit more expansive than it was," he concedes.

Comer stresses that Galway can't even consider getting back to an All-Ireland semi-final until they know where they are against a Roscommon team that has troubled them at this same stage for the last three years, beating them in 2017.

"Obviously you'd always like to progress from the previous year. It's important that we do but you can't really look too far at the moment when we've got such a big game coming up at the weekend. Obviously you'd like to go further but if we don't bring everything to the Connacht final, we could be under pressure."

He feels Galway have been "building nicely" towards Sunday. "London is always a tricky game, you have to get on a plane to go overseas to play.

"It's more of a party atmosphere out there and trying to block out that kind of thing can be difficult at times."

The win over Sligo in the semi-final was a "wake-up call," he acknowledges.

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