Thursday 15 November 2018

'Home rule' gives Galway extra edge in bid to retain title

Galway selector Francis Forde. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Galway selector Francis Forde. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Darragh Small

Galway selector Franny Forde insists there is no extra motivation playing Brian Cody's Kilkenny and emotion won't be a factor as the reigning All-Ireland champions aim to defend their Leinster crown.

Galway will be bidding to retain the Bob O'Keeffe Cup for the first time since they moved to Leinster almost a decade ago when they take on the Cats at Croke Park on Sunday (4.0).

Micheál Donoghue's charges are also looking to become the first Galway team since 1988 to win successive All-Irelands, having eased their way to a Leinster final with a game in hand.

Their 1-22 to 2-11 dismissal of Kilkenny at Pearse Stadium on May 27 was arguably Galway's most impressive performance.

"The biggest issue for us that day was that it was at home," said Forde. "Galway people have wanted those home championship games for a long time.

Desire

"The players were very conscious of that. There was certainly a desire within the group to get a result. We wanted to beat Kilkenny but the home game was a bigger factor.

"Kilkenny just happened to be the team that were in front of us. We don't put too much store into things that happened four or five years ago. We focus on the next game and where we are.

"We certainly parked anything that happened last year. What happened last year won't be scoring us any point in the Leinster final.

"We have to go out and get our basics, our work-rate and our attitude right on the day and hope then that with all of those ingredients right on the day, our hurling will be good enough to get a good performance and a result."

Last year Galway won their first All-Ireland in 29 years when they defeated Waterford 0-26 to 2-17 at Croke Park.

But Forde believes the foundations for that success stemmed back to a difficult 1-25 to 0-22 Leinster final defeat at the hands of Kilkenny in 2016.

"When you put your hat in the ring for this job, you are very conscious of the fact that, if things go wrong, it is going to be management's fault," said Forde.

"Going back to that (Leinster final), we certainly got a lot of flak but you take it on the chin. Did any of us lose any sleep over it? No, because we had three weeks to prepare for an All-Ireland quarter-final after we lost the Leinster final and the lads had a club match the week after.

"In some ways, it was easier for the players because they had to go back to their clubs and focus on the next game. We maybe had that week with a bit of flak going around, but we felt that we had to get ready for Clare.

"I don't think the loss to Kilkenny overly affected us. Yes, you would prefer if the media or supporters weren't overly critical but it comes with the territory. The results would say that we have (improved in the second half of matches).

"We suffered a defeat again that year against Tipp but we had died with our boots on. We realised leaving Croke Park that there was a massive spirit within the group.

"Maybe as a consequence of that Kilkenny match, we were tested by what people were saying outside the group, we managed to get to a position where that didn't infiltrate our thinking. We knew that we had a tight bunch, a bunch that wanted to go and succeed."

Irish Independent

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