GALWAY football manager Kevin Walsh has named an unchanged team for Sunday’s Connacht final against Roscommon at Pearse Stadium (2pm).
Following their surprise 1-12 to 0-12 victory over Mayo in the provincial semi-final, Walsh and his management team have kept faith with the starting fifteen which laid the foundation for one of Gaelic football’s shocks of the Summer.
That continuity should nurture the confidence that must surely be coursing through the players’ veins at the moment. Indeed, Galway captain Gary O’Donnell is already noticing a marked change in the mood and vibes both inside and outside the camp since the Mayo win.
“It is amazing what one victory can do in terms of the perception of people,” acknowledges Gort native O’Donnell, who plays his club football with Tuam Stars. “We were always of the belief that we had plenty of good footballers but we probably were not just getting the best out of ourselves. For whatever reason that was over the years.
“Maybe it was because we didn’t adapt as quickly as other teams have to the style of the game and we were probably left behind a small bit. At the same time, one game doesn’t make us world-beaters. The next game is always the most important, no more so than a Connacht final.”
While Roscommon football has been on an upward curve in recent years, the record books show that the Tribesmen have been a far more dominant force in the province – winning 44 senior titles to Roscommon’s 23. Added to this, Galway’s victory over one of the market leaders, Mayo, has seen their stock rise.
“Galway has been a very successful county by tradition,” agrees the Galway captain, “even though we haven’t been the most successful team in the last seven or eight years. Kevin (Walsh) though has come in and it has certainly been a process to get to this stage.
“Our league campaigns over the last two years would have been inconsistent in many people’s eyes but one thing the management has brought in is a huge competitiveness in the team and we are not losing as many games as we had been in previous years. Even the games we are losing, we are still very competitive in them and there is very little in the score at the end.
“That is what we are trying to bring forward over the next few years. We might have been slow to bring that through in the beginning but things like that take time. As I said, one game is not going to make us world-beaters but down the line it will hopefully bring more success for other Galway teams and for other players coming through.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.