Seeds of doubt in Galway now, says Mulqueen

Seeds of doubt in Galway now, says Mulqueen

He’d know plenty about it already but the last couple of trips up the M18 from Ennis have given Louis Mulqueen great insight into the Galway psyche.

Prior to the drawn game with his native Clare, the jibing among the Liam Mellows group he hopes to guide to back-to-back senior county titles later this year was that the Banner were done for.

“They were telling me not to even bother turning up,” smiled Mulqueen.

The mood was considerably more subdued at training this past Wednesday, though. 

“The voice is different in Galway now — they’re beginning to doubt themselves. The confidence was very high. 

"Going into last weekend, I thought their nine forwards would get onto any county team but what Clare actually did was put doubt into this Galway team.

“When Colm Galvin went to sweeper, Galway did the same but they didn’t need a sweeper in the first 15 minutes — I would have thrown Aidan Harte up on Galvin to try and stop him. 

"The Galway management have done brilliantly all year but how are they going to deal with this Clare resurrection? A lot of people felt Galway were coming up to win by eight or nine points.”

Not that the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final between the counties has much bearing on this latest meeting except for the venue and several of the players still being involved, but the Galway swagger was evident then as it has been to the detriment at times this year.

“I remember Alan Kerins walked over to me after it and said, ‘Jesus, how did you beat us?’ We had a sweeper system, Paddy Donnellan was mopping up. 

At the time, you just had to mark Joe Canning and that’s with all respect to Galway. If you snuffed out Joe’s scoring ability, you were actually halfway there to beating them. He was the icon then as he was when I was with (Ger) Loughnane there in 2006 and ’07.

Galway’s following should have learned from the Leinster final that they can’t get ahead of themselves. 

Not that Micheál Donoghue’s men have done the same but they are lacking a vital ingredient, says Mulqueen, a multi Clare selector and an All-Ireland winning one in 2013.

“I was praising Micheál and the Galway management all year because they were doing something we failed to do in Clare, which was grounding players after winning an All-Ireland and ensuring the hunger was still there.

“If they stuff Clare on Sunday, we’ll say the hunger is there but the bite in the first game against Kilkenny wasn’t there. That killer instinct wasn’t there. 

"They pottered about in Division 1B and came through Leinster handily but it took them a replay to beat Kilkenny and another one to beat us so they’re not the composed team that I thought they were at the start of the year.

“They haven’t lost yet so final judgement has to be reserved and Galway still had that edge to come through the second time of asking against Kilkenny but they’re not the 100% article. 

"With all respect, whoever comes through to make the final will have it all to do because they will have to earn it against Limerick.

“We played them in the semi-final in ’13 and Ger Canning came up to me beforehand and asked me did I realise there were 40,000 Limerick people out there and only 20,000 from Clare. 

"I said, ‘There’ll be an awful lot of people going home disappointed this evening so, Ger’.

“Limerick went up that day just to push their neighbours to one side but they won’t be caught out like that the next day, whether it’s Galway or Clare. They’ll be a different animal.”

Seeds of doubt in Galway now, says Mulqueen

Mulqueen has learned the hard way that Clare too have jumped to lofty conclusions about themselves after success. 

When they returned to the team hotel after the 2013 All-Ireland final replay win over Cork, he was told over and over that a period of dominance was ahead of the group.

“We had played exciting hurling but we had won an open game against Croke Park and the following year Kilkenny and Tipperary came back with physical hurling and were hitting each other hard and we weren’t up to that level.

“Davy (Fitzgerald) and myself were racking our brains as to why the mojo didn’t come back but this year it’s there. We lost to Cork twice but we started to win games and fellas came back into the form they were when they were with us. 

"Shane O’Donnell is back with three or four points, John Conlon is untouchable, TK (Tony Kelly) is back the way you expect him to throw five or six points over the bar. 

"Galvin, to me, was the fella who hadn’t yet done it this year - and I love him to bits - but he actually distributed the ball brilliantly from the sweeper role the last day.”

Give Clare a sniff and they will take it, Mulqueen warns. He draws parallels between how Jason McCarthy was able to score the equaliser last Saturday from an errant Galway sideline as Domhnall O’Donovan was from a Cork one in 2013.

“We could have been 15 or 16 points down at half-time but Galway found it difficult then. We’ve two twin towers up there now, Aron Shanagher and Conlon. 

"I’d play Shane O’Donnell off them, Podge Collins at centre-forward and Tony Kelly back to midfield.

“Man for man, Galway will match anyone physically but when Daithí Burke has that ankle worry and Gearóid McInerney mightn’t make it with the calf problem and Joe could be ginger on his leg there are a lot of doubts. 

"Niall Burke and Jason Flynn came in but they didn’t have the same effect as they did other days and the Clare backs were on top. 

"I was worried the Galway forwards would make them struggle but the sweeper gave them the confidence again.”

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