Sunday 16 June 2019

Walsh: New levels of consistency key to Tribesmen's run

Star attacker believes team are still learning

Galway's Shane Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway's Shane Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Galway pitched into Division 1 with no over-arching plans or grand ambitions.

According to star forward Shane Walsh, they came into the top flight armed with just a solemn promise made quietly to themselves: that any team who were going to beat them were going to have to earn the right.

So they started with Tyrone in Tuam. On a dirty day they dug out a win but the important thing for the group was to follow that victory with another big performance.

They managed just that when winning narrowly in Donegal and that helped them get up a head of steam that would carry them through the campaign. They stand now as one of just two undefeated teams across all four divisions of the football league.

And Walsh agrees that level of consistency was top of the wish list for the Tribesmen.

"When you are going out playing games and you win by five or six but go out the next day and lose by five or six you ask yourself where is the level of consistency?" he said, ahead of their Allianz FL final clash with Dublin in Croke Park on Sunday.

"And that's where we were missing out. We could turn it on one day but lose the next day no matter who the challenge was against, whether it was against a perceived weak team or a perceived big team.

"That was the big thing, to try and get the base right and start from there. It's our first year in Division 1, we didn't say we are going to get to a league final or anything like that. We just wanted to be competitive and be there or thereabouts and push teams so if they are going to beat us they are going to work damn hard to do it.

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"We have had a few breaks and you get them but we always said you are where you deserve to be and we probably just about deserve to be there and it's nice to be in a league final without losing a game."

Galway have been making tangible progress under Kevin Walsh, who is now in his fourth season in charge. And Shane Walsh admits it took some time for players to fit into the type of game the manager wanted his side to implement.

"If you get a new manager in and they are trying to bring a new structure to the team it takes time. I know Kevin is there four years now and we are starting to gain that understanding as we go along.

"The first year the tides were turning with some lads leaving and some coming in, and it took those first few years to get the group together and build on that and try and get the process for that and get something where everyone knows what they are doing. It's not always easy because it takes time for players to adapt."

And Walsh admits he was one of players who found the transition to a different style of play difficult.

"I was probably one of the biggest ones in terms of that because I was maybe a bit more free-flowing before. Some would say that's good for you but I'd prefer to be part of a solid structure that is in place for years to come so young lads coming through know exactly what is expected rather than having a free for all.

"I still think we are adapting. The results are saying this is a great system but we are still learning and when we train after games we are always looking at things that need improving. It's not a thing that we won the game and everything is perfect, it's about getting more from the group."

And he is expecting Dublin to be a different side in the familiar surrounds of Croke Park than they were when the sides met in Salthill.

"It is like the welcome we gave them in Pearse Stadium, we will expect something similar in Croke Park. This is considered their home ground at this stage.

"It is going to be a difficult occasion for us in that it will be our first time in a Division 1 final as a group and we are playing the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park. They are so used to this ground."

But Walsh insists they won't be cowed by the thought of facing the three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions at home.

"But we can only concentrate on ourselves really, we can't be worrying about Dublin. You often see teams going out to play Dublin and they are beat before they go out. We won't be looking at what Dublin can do. We have seen it before, we are long enough watching them on television to know what they can do to teams."

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