Monday 20 November 2017

Like father, like son as Daly leads Galway's attack in U-21 All-Ireland bid

Michael Daly and (inset) his father Val
Michael Daly and (inset) his father Val
Val Daly will be patrolling the sidelines in O’Connor Park today with Gerry Fahy’s side. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

When you take a glance at Galway U-21 football captain Michael Daly, both on and off the pitch, it quickly becomes apparent that the acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree.

Daly comes from fine footballing stock; his father Val won five Connacht SFC titles and two All-Stars for the Tribesmen in a glittering playing career, but he was "only out of the cot" when his playing days were coming to an end. Val took the senior reins with Galway as player-manager in 1997 and Michael, a student in NUIG, is well aware of his dad's reputation "back in the day" and realises he's one of their most celebrated talents.

With his father mentoring him through the ranks, helping him become the player he is today, the Mountbellew-Moylough attacker was destined to make a mark on the inter-county scene, it almost came "naturally" to him.

Val will also be patrolling the sidelines in O'Connor Park today with Gerry Fahy's side but Michael doesn't feel "any added pressure" to follow in his footsteps as he doesn't pay attention to "what is expected".

"You'd have people coming up to you saying how good a footballer he was but he doesn't say much about it himself.

"I can remember when I was three or four, I always had some sort of a football in my hand. It was just probably natural that I took it up," Daly said at the EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 Captain's Day.

"Since I started out at U-8 and all the way up, he's been a trainer for me. He's actually trainer of the Galway U-21 team as well so it's the same thing, I'm well used to him on the line. He's a good person to give advice and when you've a bad day, he's not too hard on you."

Val Daly never got the opportunity to lift Sam Maguire, coming closest in 1983 when Galway faltered against a 12-man Dublin side, but his son has the chance to etch his place in footballing history as the last captain to lift the Clarke Cup before it is transformed to an U-20 competition in 2018.

He's already been lighting up the senior scene, making his senior bow in February and his contribution off the bench was telling earlier this month when his two points ended a 16-year Croke Park senior barren spell to lift Division 2 honours.

That was his first time playing in GAA HQ and victory today would cap off a great month for a county which is really "on a high".

Bookmakers' odds suggested they stood no chance against Kerry's "unbeatables" in the last four but their task doesn't get any easier against Dublin, four-in-a-row Leinster champions.

Connacht glory last month was the first taste of silverware for this current Galway U-21 crop and Daly knows they must replicate their performance against the Kingdom to knock the all-conquering Dubs off their perch.

"We know any time you go out against a Dublin team at the moment it's going to be tough and you're going to be playing against the best players in Ireland.

"A lot of our lads mightn't get the chance to play in an All-Ireland final again though so you have to make the most of the opportunities."

With Daly already starting to replicate the feats of his father, Galway may just grasp their chance en route to history.

Irish Independent

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