All-Star attacker Ian Burke insists Galway are capable of winning the All-Ireland this year but says their principal target is to retain the Connacht title.
Holding on to the Nestor Cup would secure Galway’s place in the Super 8s for the second season running, and give them a fighting chance of returning to the semi-finals.
After that, going one better than this season’s semi-final loss to Dublin and reaching a first final since 2001 is their next step.
Asked if it would be doable to actually win the All-Ireland this year, crashing Dublin’s five-in-a-row party, Burke nodded enthusiastically.
The Corofin forward replied: “Yeah, 100%. We’re not focusing on trying to win an All-Ireland but we are trying to focus on getting ourselves into a position where we can.
“We are just trying to develop all the different aspects of our game and in fairness to Kevin (Walsh) and the lads, they are good for developing young players, our ball skills, the gym side of it, and all that. But the game plan is obviously the main thing, so we are trying to develop that. And then we’ll see where that takes us.”
Dublin were also beaten by Dublin in last year’s national league final though Burke pointed to the provincial championship when invited to set a goal for the 2019 season.
“Probably to retain the Connacht title would be first on our list and then have a good league campaign,” he said.
“We must try to get the performances in, and if we get performances, then results should come. It’s just trying to get consistency in our performances, that’s probably the most important thing.”
Galway were dogged by inconsistency before 2018 but displayed a hardened exterior last year, losing just three of their 15 competitive games across the league and championship.
Yet bookmakers still place them fifth in this year’s All-Ireland Championship reckoning, 14/1 outside shots behind Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone, and Connacht rivals Mayo.
“It was a disappointing end to the year, the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin was something that wasn’t particularly good for us,” said Burke. “But it’s something we can build on.”
Burke himself is recovering from a rib injury but expects to be fit for Corofin’s All- Ireland club semi-final against Gweedore next month. He revealed that a group of Corofin players are training with both the club and the county teams, breaking from the usual protocol.
“It’s new this year,” he said of the arrangement. “Last year we were with Corofin until we finished and then we went in with Galway after.”
Galway face old rivals Mayo on Sunday in the semi-finals of the FBD Connacht League, a game where they picked up three red cards a year ago.
“You are under no illusions going into these games that if you are not on your game, you are going to come off second best,” said Burke of physicality in Galway-Mayo matches.