ANYONE who tells you that last Spring they foresaw a situation whereby Galway would be All-Ireland senior hurling champions come September is a liar. Anyone outside of the Galway camp, that is.
Though manager Micheál Donoghue’s belief in his players never wavered, and the players’ belief in themselves remained steadfast, the prevailing view inside and outside the county was Galway weren’t going to be up to much this year after losing to Wexford at Pearse Stadium in February.
When Davy Fitzgerald’s outfit derailed the Tribesmen’s league promotion hopes with a deserved 1-21 to 3-13 victory in Salthill, there was a familiar sense of despair in the county’s hurling heartlands.
We needn’t have worried. Not only did the defeat to Wexford not kill their spirit, they learned from it and it made them stronger. “It was a massive turning point,” revealed Micheál Donoghue.
“We sat down with the leadership group, and there was a real connectivity after that meeting. The boys knew exactly what was expected, from losing, what it was they had to do when they were on the pitch.”
Another season-defining moment came the first Sunday in April. Oh, how Waterford must now be regretting not finishing Galway off in the League quarter-final, when twice they had them buried.
Had David Burke and Co accepted defeat against the Déise, God knows how the season would have panned out. But they’re made of stern stuff. And the Tribesmen fought back with Lazarus-like resilience from what looked like an unassailable deficit.
That win over the Munster men laid the foundations to Sunday’s All-Ireland success against the same opposition. It reignited their season, and “everything just started falling right into place” after that, said Donoghue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.