Sunday 17 December 2017

Former ace Tobin believes Galway can lift Sam this year

Connacht GAA provincial games manager John Tobin
Connacht GAA provincial games manager John Tobin

Daragh Small

John Tobin laughs off any notion that he would dare miss a Connacht final but when Galway and Roscommon line out in opposition it becomes all the more meaningful for the Tuam Stars man.

Having spent time in both camps, Tobin will have divided loyalties at Pearse Stadium in Salthill on Sunday, but the four Connacht medals he garnered in maroon tip the scales in favour of the hosts.

Tobin won his last Nestor Cup as a player back in 1983 and since then he managed Galway in early 1990s before a stint in charge of Roscommon at the turn of the century, and subsequently leading Connacht to their first interprovincial victory in 45 years in 2014.

Now Tobin is the Connacht GAA provincial games manager and he cannot wait to see Galway and Roscommon renew rivalries.

The corresponding fixture finished in a draw last year but when the sides met at MacHale Park in Castlebar a week later, Galway won convincingly on a 3-16 to 0-14 scoreline.

Later in Croke Park Galway were shocked by Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-finals but Tobin believes this is a different team after back-to-back Connacht semi-final victories over Mayo.

"Galway don't have anything to prove. During the course of the national league Galway proved themselves to be very progressive and in a good place," said Tobin.

"Now they've beaten the team that was in the All-Ireland final on two consecutive occasions. And on the way they played some nice football and showed some great character.

"The way they did it against Mayo, particularly in the last ten minutes, Galway proved themselves.

"For the last seven or eight months Galway showed that they are realising their potential and have very good players. This is just another test, and another challenge for them to move up on another step."

Galway finally banished their Croke Park hoodoo when they beat Kildare in the NFL Division 2 final but still haven't won a championship match at headquarters since 2001.

But the ex-All-Ireland minor and U-21 winner with Galway believes his native county can compete with the very best on their day.

"We are all hoping that Galway can win the All-Ireland this year and they are definitely going the right direction," said Tobin.

"All the teams that get to that stage need the break of the ball. Galway need to continue in the manner that they are progressing.

"It's amazing how very small margins make such a huge impact and such a huge difference. Galway are going in the right direction, I just hope they get the bit of luck.

"They are capable of competing with the likes of Dublin and Kerry and are at a nice phase in their development, a lot of their younger players that we have seen there over the last number of years, they are improving every year.

"You have Damien Comer, Johnny Heaney, Paul Conroy, Fiontán Ó Curraoin coming back, Gary Sice is playing great football at the moment. There is a very good panel in Galway.

Roscommon's league form was in stark contrast to that of their opponents this Sunday, suffering relegation to the second tier.

They breezed through their Connacht semi-final against Leitrim, however Tobin is sceptical of whether they are able for the step up in class.

"I don't know will there be a difference between Roscommon this year and last. Their performances in the league left a bit to be desired. But again both Kevin McStay and Liam McHale have been saying that their priority has been the championship.

"To a certain extent Roscommon won't know where they are until they play Galway, Galway are probably the acid test. But they should put up more of a fight this year."

Irish Independent

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