Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Jesus it's sweet today' - Michéal Donoghue takes aim at Galway critics after long-awaited triumph

Galway manager Micheál Donoghue after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Galway manager Micheál Donoghue after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor McKeon

Conor McKeon

MÍCHEÁL Donoghue didn’t exactly take aim but but he didn’t spare anyone either.

He arrived into the media room as the first man to lead Galway to an All-Ireland since Cyril Farrell and went about his business with the understated efficiency that has become characteristic of his reign, now enshrined in yesterday’s All-Ireland win.

“They have been questioned and doubted so many times,” he said by way of praising the players with whom he had just executed such a textbook season.

“Even in the build-up to the game, there were still references that they were chokers.

“Nobody came out and said these boys showed huge resilience and today, we knew coming up that we were in with a serious chance.”

The suspicion that Galway’s summer - and indeed their late spring - had gone a little too smoothly lasted about 20 seconds in Croke Park yesterday.

The Tribesmen started with an explosion of pinpoint hurling; all razor touch and sweet striking.

Five minutes, five points, five different scorers.

No wides, no frees conceded.

But for Waterford’s against-the-run-of-play goal, they could have been buried by a Galway team that announced themselves as being firmly on a mission from the first whistle.

“It has been a huge collective effort,” Donoghue outlined.

“But the squad that we have presently, we have been saying it for the last couple of months, since the Wexford game (their one loss this year), these boys have taken huge ownership.

“I think any management team that is in situ is trying to develop a team and a squad that take ownership and they have done it for the last couple of months.”

As it happened, it was Waterford who book-ended their journey.

Trailing the Deise by ten points in the League quarter-final back in early April in Pearse Stadium, Galway found themselves.

They won that match and subsequently the League and Leinster Championship.

But for their curious inability to score a goal yesterday or in their semi-final win over Tipperary, they would have cantered to Liam MacCarthy.

“The Waterford game was a huge game, especially the fact they came up probably not at full strength and we ended up being down ten points on two occasions,” Donoghue admitted.

“But I think that was the real start of the boys taking ownership.

“I’ll never forget being on the sideline and hearing the vocals between themselves, and the encouragement.

“They didn’t die or they didn’t drop the heads.

“It was huge. Coming back from ten points twice gave us a huge lift and huge motivation.

“I think when you look back at it, we got serious momentum from that game.

“Coming into the league semi-final we had trained exceptionally well, we probably had our best 15-a-side game of the whole year coming into the league semi-final.

“Everything started just falling right into place for us. Our mantra all year was just ‘the next game, the next session’ and everybody bought into it.”

That they managed to do it so efficiently with the pressure that comes with not having won an All-Ireland in 29 years was perhaps the most impressive thing.

“Look, it’s always there,” Donoghue admitted.

“We couldn’t control what was being said or what people were saying about the team.

“Of course there was going to be pressure.

“But the biggest thing for me was that if we didn’t win today – knowing the effort, sacrifice and commitment these boys had put in – what they would face next week if they’d lost today.

“So it wasn’t about the pressure on me or the team, it was just how these boys had been questioned year after year.”

“Jesus it’s sweet today,” Donoghue concluded, “I’ll tell you.”

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