Farragher happy as team-mates rediscover their fighting spirit

FOR a couple of years Ger Farragher has been hammering away at his new house, a massive project he took on himself to fill all those spare hours between work and hurling training.

On Saturday he finally moved in and one of the first items that arrived with him was the RTÉ man-of-the-match award for his 1-4 in Galway’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier demolition of Clare in Pearse Stadium.

For Farragher and his Galway teammates, the win was a form of redemption for their own disappointing loss against Dublin in the Leinster championship, a game he missed through injury.

“It was. We knew when we played Dublin that we were not that bad. It was just one of those days when we didn’t throw the ball around. But we saw Saturday what happens when we do.”

The biggest difference was that in this game Galway took their chances with 29 scores from 36 opportunities.

“When we played Dublin, we had four goal chances but the lads never threw the ball out to fellas in the better position. That is one of the things we worked on for the past few weeks, that the lad who is in the better position gets the ball and that was the difference (against Clare). The players knew that the performance against Dublin was not good enough. There was a lot of talk before the Dublin game and lads knew the talking had to stop, they had to step up to the plate. It was great that it was home here (in Pearse Stadium) and you saw the great crowd that got behind us. We thought there wouldn’t be half as many Galway people there and you wouldn’t blame them after the last day when we let the county down. But I think we showed today what we can do — we need to do that again the next day.”

What people tend to have overlooked with the qualifiers is the All-Ireland series is actually an entirely separate championship to the provincial championships. It’s as close as we’re probably ever going to get to open draw straight knockout old-style championship.

Galway have now won their opening game in this new campaign, and as Ger said, it’s up to themselves now to reproduce this form again in the next round — do that, and they’re in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

“A few years ago we would have been out of the championship after the Dublin game but now there is a second chance and we knew what we needed to work on after that game. So, yes, it is like a new championship.”

Nobody knew better than manager John McIntyre what needed to be worked on. He admitted: “We went back to basics on the training ground over the last two weeks, there was less cones and less discs on the training field and there was more hurling. Every session we have had since the Dublin game has been hurling matches — everything else we seem to be doing fine. We were all extremely disappointed with the performance against Dublin and I knew we would have a much sharper Galway hurling team on Saturday. I didn’t know if it would get us over the line but the reputations of the management and in particular the players were on the line.

“But none of us are going to lose the run of ourselves. At the beginning of the year Galway would have been expected to beat Clare if their paths crossed in the championship. Clare were also reduced to 14 men when they had half a chance of making a rally. My overriding emotion is sheer delight for the players who have retrieved their reputations.

“It’s only one match. I will be challenging the squad and asking, ‘how did this display come’ and say to them ‘if we can do it one night, we can do it another night’.”

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