Tuesday 18 September 2018

Micheál Donoghue keeps focus as Galway look to put foot on throat of Cats

Galway manager Micheal Donoghue. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway manager Micheal Donoghue. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Whenever an All-Ireland SHC title is won without hurling's aristocrats Kilkenny being accounted for along the way, there is often an asterisk attached to it.

It happened when Clare prevailed five years ago while last season, Galway also managed to avoid the Cats - through no fault of their own - as they achieved a league and All-Ireland double and brought Liam MacCarthy across the Shannon for the first time in 29 years.

The Tribesmen's success was a little different as they remained unbeaten from mid-February to the first Sunday in September but while Micheál Donoghue would never say it, you get the impression it's an itch they would duly love to scratch.

Their resounding round-robin success over Kilkenny in Pearse Stadium - the first Leinster SHC clash played in the west - would have left them yearning for another opportunity to keep their foot on the throat of Brian Cody's squad.

Aside from that victory - and their shock 2012 Leinster decider win - victories against the Cats have been few and far between during the Cody regime, but Sunday's provincial final offers them another chance to show their dominance.

Galway are the only side to have coasted through the round-robin stages and are clear front-runners to make it back-to-back All-Ireland successes, but Donoghue won't be placing any extra stock on trying to beat Kilkenny more than any other fixture.

"It's not (a box we feel we need to tick)....the way we prepare for games, we're very respectful and mindful of the opposition. Playing them again is obviously going to be a massive challenge," Donoghue said.

"But as I said it's up to ourselves now and how we prepare for it and get ready for it. Because we know it's going to be a huge test, we know they're going to come wanting to win it as well. It's going to be a totally different game. No two games are the same anyway so that's definitely in the memory bank. We know it's going to be a huge... we have huge respect for them, they have been the standard bearers for so many years."

It's the second helping of a possible trilogy after the "uncharted waters" of the provincial round-robin system and while many have commented that Galway won't be judged until an All-Ireland semi-final, Donoghue is never one to lose sight of their immediate focus.

Casualties

The Munster casualties of Tipperary and Waterford - who they defeated in last year's All-Ireland semi-final and final respectively - are of little relevance to him as he continuously strives for improvement while trying to avoid the hype around being reigning All-Ireland champions.

"We don't look that far ahead. Our job is to concentrate on the next game and as I said, that's stood us in good stead and we're just focused on July 1, we're not looking beyond that," he said.

"We always take work-ons from every game. It's not just ourselves, the players set the highest standards and we have our own areas that we want out of each game that we always reflect back on.

"When we are watching from afar and particularly in Munster watching it as a spectators I know it sounds cold but it doesn't... we just watch that from afar and just concentrate on ourselves."

Irish Independent

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