Galway stars happy to play the McIntyre way

PICTURE the scene. A group of hopeful hurlers are huddled in the dressingroom awaiting their new manager. There are plenty of nerves as they await to hear what the boss man says.

He speaks authoritatively, as you’d expect. And he asks questions too. Such as what is your favourite position?

That is a query usually put to Under-8s with limitless dreams, not senior inter-county players who have pretty similar ambitions but are also burdened by the weight of history and repeated failure.

When John McIntyre finally got the job as Galway hurling manager, one he had coveted for some time, he knew that the players would have to take responsibility themselves. He also wanted them to be confident and happy.

Ger Farragher was going to be Galway’s saviour, long before Joe Canning ever arrived. There were plenty before him and quite a few after, but Farragher had the goods.

Slicing sidelines over from everywhere seems almost mundane now with the regularity that Canning, Farragher, Ben O’Connor and ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick can effect the skill, but that wasn’t the case 10 years ago. And it certainly wasn’t the case at minor level, when the Castlegar teenager was winning his second All-Ireland in a row at that level. He went on to play in the ‘01 final too.

Immediately parachuted in the senior set-up, Farragher had good days and bad. A natural midfielder, he gradually found himself being moved closer to goals. In 2005, he was an All Star at right corner-forward but he found the position suffocating him.

Ger Loughnane came in and changed everything, starting the weights regime that has the Tribesmen looking so beefy these days. But Farragher struggled and was never a fixture on any of the Clare man’s teams.

But along game McIntyre and asked every member of his panel, “what is your favourite position?” For Farragher, the answer was straightforward. Well, almost.

“You’d be kinda’ half afraid to say midfield because he might say ‘is this lad a bit cocky, telling me where to play him?’ but that’s just his style of management” laughs the 27-year-old. “He puts the players first and we have a say.

“I started out at midfield all the way along with the club, when (senior) selector John Hardiman was over the minors, I played midfield for three years so I played all the way up along.

“We were asked what our favourite position was and I just said midfield and (McIntyre) said he might give me a chance then. I played one or two games okay and I was left there.”

Farragher has been brilliant throughout the league, his performances earning him the Vodafone Player of the Month for April. He confirmed his excellence in last Sunday’s final against Cork.

McIntyre has continued to put the onus on his players to empower themselves and the latest example of that came at half time in Thurles.

“John said it was more or less up to ourselves, that it was time for us to stand up and be counted.

“John would tell you if you’re doing something wrong, he’ll tell you what you have to do to get it right and it’s up to you to do it and if you don’t someone else is just going to come in. You saw the last day, we can only tog out 24 now but we’ve 32 on the panel and the eight lads that weren’t on the (match) panel were good enough to be on the team so that’s the thing this year, there’s great competition for places.”

McIntyre has also entrusted Farragher with the free-taking duties, despite the presence of Canning. He took on the responsibility when the Portumna prodigy was on club duty and has been so unerring that he continues to take them all, apart from around the 20m line. Canning takes the sidelines on the right, Farragher on the left.

The accuracy doesn’t come by accident though and for that, Farragher admits to being a disciple of the greatest kicking out-half in rugby history.

“I was reading a book on Jonny Wilkinson and it’s practice makes perfect. He knows going up to kick a ball that he has the practice done and that he’s going to score it, so it’s all positive thinking.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Sport Push Notifications

By clicking on 'Sign Up' you will be the first to know about our latest and best sporting content on this browser.

Sign Up

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd