O’Shea coming on board raises the stakes for both Shefflin and Galway

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Galway have finally got their man. After some significant courting over the years, Eamon O’Shea is throwing in his lot with the county’s senior hurlers for 2024. It represents a clear statement of intent by team manager Henry Shefflin in trying to close the gap on four-in-a-row champions Limerick.

It seems, however, a few traditionalists around the county are not particularly enamoured at the prospect of two Kilkenny men and a Tipperary native running the Galway sideline next year. ‘Have we no faith in any of our own to do the job’, is their take on things? It’s a narrow-minded view, however, in the context of increasing cross-border management traffic.

For instance, there’s a couple of Clare men – highly regarded coach Paul Kinnerk and selector Alan Cunningham involved – with Limerick; Eoin Kelly of Tipperary assisted another Clare native Davy Fitzgerald with Waterford in 2022, while Tony Browne went in the opposite direction by helping Liam Cahill in Tipp.

The bottom line is that Galway needed to do something radical for 2024. Under Shefflin so far, the Tribesmen have been competitive but in the big games they have been found wanting under his watch: twice against Kilkenny in Leinster finals; and twice against Limerick in All-Ireland semi-finals. There’s also the not significant issue of finding themselves 12-points adrift of a modest Dublin team at one stage of this year’s provincial semi-final.

Against that background, O’Shea coming on board is a welcome necessity. The Kilruane man thinks outside the box; has helped to revolutionised forward play and is a hugely respected figure in the game. His presence alone in the Galway dressing room can only have a positive impact on the squad.

What was O’Shea like as a player himself? Naturally, not many Galway people would have an indepth knowledge of his qualities given that the late seventies and early eighties were a barren period for Tipperary hurling. I came up against him several times in the Tipperary championship and I can say without hesitation he was the fastest player I ever marked.

Pictured: Maigh Cullinn’s Dessie Conneely is challenged by Stephen Curley of Annaghdown during Saturday’s Senior Football Championship tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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