Walsh enlists Sigerson hero Tally to boost Galway set-up
Galway football manager Kevin Walsh has bolstered his 2018 coaching team with the addition of one of Mickey Harte's former assistants, Paddy Tally.
Tally will join the Tribesmen in the coming weeks while also continuing to manage St Mary's College, Belfast in the Sigerson Cup which they won earlier this year, beating UCD in the final to record one of the biggest achievements in Gaelic games in 2017 given the size of their male student base.
Tally has a wealth of experience in training and coaching teams, spending two years with Harte in 2003, when they won their first All-Ireland title and 2004, while also assisting manager James McCartan as Down reached an All-Ireland final in 2010.
When Brian McIver took over Derry, Tally, a Tyrone native, was on board between 2013 and 2015. Walsh has worked with the same selectors, Sean Conlon and Brian Silke, since taking over Galway in 2015. He has also changed his strength and conditioning coach, bringing in Galway native Keith Carr who had previously worked with John Evans and Kevin McStay in Roscommon and Tom Cribbin in Westmeath.
"Every year is about improving what we are doing and we're trying to make improvements in our own set-up and get as good as we can get," said Walsh.
Galway made progress in 2017, winning Division 2 in the league and beating Mayo in the Connacht Championship for the second successive year, but they lacked consistency and their championship exit to Kerry at All-Ireland quarter-final stage was a disappointment. Walsh will have to plan for much of the forthcoming Division 1 campaign without four players who are all recovering from surgery or injury.
Last season's captain Gary O'Donnell has undergone ankle surgery, Danny Cummins is to undergo knee surgery now that his club Claregalway's run in the Connacht intermediate championship has ended.
Midfielder Fiontán ó Curraoin is recovering from a broken leg while 2017 Young Footballer of the Year nominee Michael Daly has had surgery to repair a dislocated kneecap.
Seán Armstrong has committed for another year but with ongoing back problems, it's difficult to see how much he can give at this stage.
With Corofin headed for an All-Ireland club semi-final, if they can overcome Fulham Gaels this weekend, Walsh's options will be more limited.
"With the way the league is set out these four players will be up against it to feature for the majority of the league campaign," he predicted. Daly sustained his injury while playing for his NUIG last month.
Walsh has brought in a number of last season's U-21s who featured in the All-Ireland final against Dublin, among them Seán ó Ceallaigh who impressed in that match with his performance at full-back but subsequently spent the summer in the US. Also included is the promising minor full-back from the last two seasons, Seán Mulkerrin.
"No doubt Division 1 will be a tough place for us but a good place too. A lot of younger players will have an opportunity to push through and we'll be using the Connacht League extensively for that purpose," he said.
At yesterday's Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup launch in the GAA Museum, Tally's St Mary's were pitched in a first round battle with local rivals, University of Ulster Jordanstown while NUIG, who will feature Galway's Damien Comer, have Sligo IT in their first game.
Comer feels that exposure to Division 1 football for the first time since 2011 will provide the perfect "building block" for a more sustained summer effort.
"The intensity is going to be up another level," said Comer. "We're expecting that so it will be a good building block for the summer to come having that experience of playing a top team."
Galway meet Mayo on May 13 next year in a Connacht quarter-final that will be hugely influential in determining the route either county will take. The losers will require four subsequent qualifiers wins to make the 'Super eights', for the winners a likely Connacht final place would shorten the route considerably.
"There is a lot riding on it but Galway won an All-Ireland in 2001 by going the back door so it's not all bad news. As long as you get to where you want to go to and Mayo have proved it the last few years. It's a big game, it's a quarter-final. It is a long road if you have to go the back door.
Comer believes Galway can be a better team if they back themselves more.
"We showed Kerry a bit too much respect. We should have gone at them a bit more. We got caught out a bit with an early goal which set us back.
"And then we had three or four goal chances. If we had sunk one or two of them, it could have been a different story as well. It seems to be that when we get goals, we are a different team. If we can get consistency into our game, we will be a good side."