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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
It was a huge day for Galway hurling on Sunday, a historic day, Kilkenny beaten and, just as significantly, a first Leinster title for Connacht’s lone top-level flag-bearer.
But there were no major celebrations, however, according to captain Fergal Moore, no symbolic parading of the massive Bob O’Keeffe Cup across the Shannon bridge in Athlone, a mandatory stopping-point for so many previous championship-winning Galway teams.
"Indeed we didn’t, we were anxious to get back to Galway. Obviously it was a huge day for us, a proud day and we enjoyed every minute of the hours afterwards but that was that. The Leinster championship is over, it’s Monday, a new day, a new week and a new challenge."
It’s not that the win doesn’t mean anything to Moore and his team-mates, proud men of Connacht though they all are. As referenced in his victory speech he appreciates full well what it means to any of the traditional Leinster hurling teams to win that championship.
They must, however, keep a rein on their own emotions, and certainly triumphalism doesn’t enter the equation.
"Definitely not, but this does mean a huge amount to us. First of all you’re part of history, the first Galway team to win a Leinster title, and we fully appreciate the significance of that title, but it also means we’re through to an All-Ireland semi-final and that too means a huge amount to us, that in itself is a massive reward. Remember, we haven’t reached this stage since 2005."
While Galway are waiting for August 12 to arrive, the team they’ll meet will have had at least one big game, possibly two, under their belts — is that a concern?
"Absolutely not. We’re well used to waiting in Galway, it’s a huge advantage to go straight to the semi-final.
"We have time now, it gives us an opportunity to work on things and having seen the game again on DVD there’s plenty there for us to work on. We were very happy with the defensive display, especially from the forwards and from the middle third, and when you’re getting that it makes our job at the back much easier. I thought we defended very well as a team but that performance, while it was good enough to win Leinster, won’t be good enough to win an All-Ireland semi-final. We’ll need every day between now and then to get ready."
A stat that was trotted out almost before the Galway players had got back to their dressing room on Sunday was that on the nine occasions in which Galway have beaten Kilkenny in championship hurling, seven times they’ve gone on to lose their next game. Daunting?!
"Stats certainly tell a story but the story of the 2012 championship hasn’t been written yet! We’re taking it one match at a time, we won the Leinster final yesterday, that was put to bed last night, now our total focus is on the All-Ireland semi-final in August."
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