THE intensity and work rate that Galway will need to beat Kilkenny on Sunday must be twice what it was against Tipperary, according to captain, David Collins.
The Liam Mellows clubman said the positivity that is in the squad this year has helped him.
“If it wasn’t, I would be sitting down and out and would not be playing. The depth in the squad is massive and we need that going forward,” Collins told The Clare Champion.
Asked at what stage in their semi-final against Tipperary did he feel that it would be their day, he replied, “When I saw Johnny Glynn hooking Maher and Mannion picking the ball up and putting it over the bar, I said ‘this is it, this is our game, we are on the curve’. The work rate and the intensity that the boys kept bringing was superb and we need to keep that going now.
“We have kept it going in training and we must continue that intensity and the workrate. I am looking forward to it. I believe we are in the right place, with the right frame of mind. It’s going to be some day, hopefully.”
Collins is, clearly, impressed with the commitment and workrate of the players. “We know that we must be up there all the time and that is being done in training. The players are driving it. Players are pulling the other players aside and asking, ‘why are you not doing this or that’. It’s not coming from management, which is great. It’s a real team bond. There is a unity there, where lads know what they are doing. Once it’s player-related and player-driven, it’s great. Many times in Galway it has been blamed on management, manager is this and manager is that; take out the common denominator, manager, and where have we won anything? The players have to drive it on,” he stressed.
He went on to suggest, “In hindsight, it was a great thing to lose the Leinster final as we had to re-assess what we had to do. We know where Kilkenny’s strong points are. Their work-rate was fantastic that day. If you look back, the mistakes we made cost us the game in terms of turnovers, drops, possessions, shots, everything. We hit about 45% accuracy that day. That’s the stuff you need to get down to.”
Asked about the disappointment of 2013, having come so close to winning the title a year earlier, he said, “We had four weeks after winning the Leinster final and eight weeks between the Leinster final and the All-Ireland semi-final. It was a really big break. This year there has been no real break. After the Tipp game, it’s three weeks to an All-Ireland final, which is just perfect. It’s not too long and lads are still in the frame of mind where we can’t step off the gas. I am not hating the championship structure this year yet, as it has played into our hands. We are striving for one All-Ireland. Ritchie Hogan has so many All-Irelands and All-Stars. We are concentrating on one thing and one only, getting the MacCarthy Cup.
“We got hockeyed down in Waterford in the league; we reassessed all that. We have had no real break and it has suited us. I would love more games, as games bring you on but we are in a better position in terms of games than Kilkenny. We have been questioned as a team in terms of our consistency. That was one thing we aimed to address this year.
“We try to win games in the last 15 minutes. Over the last three years, Clare, Tipp and Kilkenny beat us in the last 10 to 15 minutes. We are finishing games strongly this season. We played Tipp last year after two serious games with Kilkenny and within 13 days, we had three games played and that really rattled us in terms of mental capacity to finish out games. We have worked on that this year. We all sat down after the Waterford game to discuss where we wanted to go. It was mainly attitude.”
According to Collins, “Young lads are coming into a better set-up. Years ago, it was all right. They are not guaranteed the jersey because years ago it was guaranteed. Joe Canning was the main man. We have seven or eight forwards now who can perform We have leaders all over the field. It’s a different set-up. More is expected and the older players are demanding getting more. It’s a weight off Joe Canning’s shoulders. He is only a young lad and the pressure is off. He has carried Galway through a lot of games. The whole thing has changed now, which is fantastic.”
He stressed that he very much believes in this Galway team.
“I have for the last 15 to 20 years; that’s why I am still here. I want that medal. There is really something there, the fight is there. It’s sink or swim at this stage and the lads have to step up. Kilkenny always manage to bring massive intensity. That’s a credit to them. We have to match that. If us having no All-Ireland medal and they having eight or nine doesn’t drive us on, then…The want is there and we wouldn’t be where we are without it,” he concluded.
By Seamus Hayes, sports editor