Kavanagh focused on ending Déise’s hopes of redemption

ON Sunday, Galway hurler Shane Kavanagh sat back in his armchair watching Darren Clarke secure a first Major at the ripe age of 42.

Clarke’s win struck a cord with Kavanagh. Here was a man who had plummeted down the world rankings and considered quitting the game before bouncing back to collect one of the most iconic trophies in world golf.

Kavanagh knows all about the quest for redemption this year.

He was on the side that crashed out of the Leinster Championship to Dublin and suffered a torrent of abuse from their own fans.

Slowly but surely, they have crawled back through the qualifiers to book an All-Ireland quarter-final date with Waterford on Sunday.

Still, the Dublin defeat still pains him, even weeks later.

“We were shocking on the day,” he candidly admitted.

“Which isn’t to take from Dublin. We never really got going, we didn’t kick on after getting the early goal; Dublin started tacking on the points while we had a multitude of wides.

“We did manage to turn things around fairly quickly in the qualifiers but we had no choice, it was either sink or swim.

“In all fairness Clare (their first opponents) are still a Division Two team and you’d be expected to win that game, which we did.

“Things worked out well then against Cork — an early goal conceded but the good thing was we had plenty of time to recover, to get back into the game.

“Things are going well for us but we won’t be reading too much into it.

“Those were two good wins back-to-back but we’ll need to put a lot more good performances together than that before we get any notions about ourselves.”

The problem for Galway in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final, however, is again, it’s about redemption.

Opponents Waterford suffered an even greater humiliation in last Sunday week’s Munster final loss to Tipperary, a seven-goal trouncing.

Just as Darren Clarke was prematurely written off before last week’s heroics in Royal St George’s in the British Open, just as Galway themselves were written off in many quarters after their loss to Dublin, so it is that anyone writing off the Déise this Sunday could also be making a major mistake.

On that basis, Kavanagh is wary.

“There’s huge pride in the jersey there, great passion, and we’ve seen that for years.

“I don’t think anyone would have lived with Tipperary that day, the movement in their forwards and their backs was fantastic. They were on top everywhere.

“Nothing seemed to go right for Waterford, everything seemed to go well for Tipperary.

As a full-back, how do you stop a barrage like that, how do you cope?

“It’s almost unstoppable. It is impossible to manage when you’re under that much pressure, with that much ball coming in and so much movement.

“You have to try and communicate with the other backs as best you can, and hope the guys out the field can put on more pressure and cut off the supply lines.

“But when Tipperary hit that groove, they are almost unmarkable. They’ll be a huge test for anyone they come against if they can maintain that sort of form.”

That’s for another day, however; the immediate challenge for Kavanagh and his teammates is to continue their redemption, finally get past the quarter-final stage, something they haven’t managed for five years.

“Every day you go out, you’re looking to improve, that’s the essence of sport.

“Coming out of Tullamore after the Dublin defeat, not a lot of people in Galway would have seen us getting this far. But here we are. We’ve got to the quarter-final for the last three years but that’s been the rock we’ve perished on each time. We’re looking now to try and make the semi-final, and it would be a huge boost for Galway hurling if we could manage that.

“The bottom line though is that two of the last three times we’ve met Waterford, they’ve beaten us. We’re under no illusions — they’re a seriously talented team, very good hurlers, and Davy Fitzgerald will have them fired up.”

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