Wednesday 21 August 2019

Players now want to play for Galway again - O'Donnell

Galway football boss Kevin Walsh with members of his management team and squad in preparation for their ‘Tribesmen Go Wild’ cycle tomorrow which will raise money for MS Ireland and the Tribesmen Supporters Club, aiding their training fund Picture: Aengus McMahon
Galway football boss Kevin Walsh with members of his management team and squad in preparation for their ‘Tribesmen Go Wild’ cycle tomorrow which will raise money for MS Ireland and the Tribesmen Supporters Club, aiding their training fund Picture: Aengus McMahon
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Outgoing Galway football captain Gary O'Donnell feels the return of a number of players to their squad in recent weeks is another tangible sign of the progress they are making.

Fresh from their Connacht Championship success in July, the squad has been bolstered by the return of Sean Armstrong, who had retired, and Fiontán Ó Curraoin, Michael Lundy and Johnny Duane from the US.

Armstrong retired in 2014 but has been very impressive in the Galway championship, while O Curraoin quit the squad after this year's Division 2 campaign.

A number of players, including some from county champions Corofin who were previously unavailable, have also committed in recent weeks.

Prior to the Championship, Galway manager Kevin Walsh figured that 52 players turned down an opportunity to trial for Galway in his first 18 months.

Culture

But Walsh is striving to change the culture in Galway football and O'Donnell believes his efforts are hitting home.

At a time when other squads of similar status are losing players to travel and work commitments and a broader reluctance to commit to the time required for inter-county football, Galway have gained considerably.

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"Players want to play for Galway now. That's a big difference from where it was two years, maybe even a year ago," said O'Donnell.

"They see a bit of success and naturally it draws them in. It's great to have players wanting to play again and there is motivation there.

"It's going to make it a lot more competitive because the quality of players we are talking about is high."

O'Donnell accepts, though, that the defeat to Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final cut deep and they didn't handle the occasion well.

"It got to us in the end even though we didn't go into it unprepared or taking Tipperary for granted," he said.

"I don't think they got enough credit for what they did but we didn't do ourselves justice and that's really driving us on for next year to achieve more."

O'Donnell and his colleagues are taking part in a fundraising event, 'Tribesmen Go Wild,' tomorrow that will see them cycle the equivalent distance, in relay, of the 2,750 kilometre 'Wild Atlantic Way' on static spinning bikes at a number of locations around Galway, including Supermacs at The Galway Plaza in Kiltullagh, Eyre Square and Headford Road as well as Joyce's Supermarkets, Elvery's, An Púcan Bar, The Eyre Square Shopping Centre, The Corrib Shopping Centre and Taaffe's Baron Shop Street.

All proceeds will go to MS Ireland and the Galway Tribesmen Supporters Club which helps to fund the preparation of the inter-county teams.

Last year, the Galway footballers staged a white collar boxing event to raise funds for MS Ireland and their own training.

O'Donnell has credited Walsh's influence and says he striving to create an environment where players lead now instead of waiting to be led.

"He's looking for lads to take responsibility for all our training and that feeds into this event where the players take responsibility for driving this too," he said. "The emphasis and idea behind these fundraising events are that players take responsibility and control of it.

"Players can see that they are contributing to their own development. They're coming back in now and they're looking for gym programmes and looking to improve on things they weren't doing a year or two ago. Things are definitely going in the right direction."

Galway's fundraising vehicles lag behind their great rivals Mayo, their 78 season tickets paling by comparison to Mayo's 3,500, while the Tribesmen Supporters Club has just 200 members, up from 50 two seasons ago but still way below the levels of Club Rossie and Cáirde Maigh Eo.

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