David Burke: ‘We just wanted to send a small message’

At around half six on Sunday evening, most of the Galway team were to be found licking ice creams outside Supermacs on the Old Ennis Road.

David Burke: ‘We just wanted to send a small message’

The mood, as you’d expect, was jovial. Broad smiles were worn by manager Micheál Donoghue and the 6ft 5in man mountain that is Johnny Glynn. They and others basked in a job well done.

There was no sign, though, of the league cup or captain David Burke. That had something to do with the 27-year old being the last man back into the Galway dressing room after the game.

Once the selfies were done and the hurleys signed, Burke was ushered to a room upstairs in the Mackey Stand where Galway Bay FM had stationed themselves for the afternoon.

There he chatted with Niall Canavan. The pair are well acquainted, given their teaching roles at St Brigid’s College, Loughrea. The mood was suitably relaxed.

Canavan mentioned physicality.

“Work-rate was number one and then physicality,” responded Burke.

There followed an utterance from the Galway midfielder which raised ears in this particular commentary box, the sort of talk that has all but disappeared from post-match discussions with inter-county players.

“We’ve set down a marker for the rest of the year. Tipperary won the physicality stakes last year, so we just wanted to send out a small message and let them know that we’re still around.”

That they certainly did... and more.

Selector Noel Larkin gushed about the team’s work-rate. Easily done, mind, given the countless examples of maroon jerseys bullying Tipperary out of possession, such as Aidan Harte charging down a Pádraic Maher clearance, Conor Whelan forcing Seamus Kennedy to overcarry, and Daithí Burke horsing into John McGrath. On and on it went.

Easily done, mind, given the countless examples of maroon jerseys bullying Tipperary out of possession, such as Aidan Harte charging down a Pádraic Maher clearance, Conor Whelan forcing Seamus Kennedy to overcarry, and Daithí Burke horsing into John McGrath. On and on it went.

“Work-rate is everything,” Larkin stressed.

“You can have every game-plan in the world, but the two most underestimated words in hurling are work-rate. Once you have work-rate, you’ll be fine. The lads were relentless. We gave Tipperary no chance to get into the game.”

The key now is to replicate this intensity on May 28, June 18, and July 2. If they emerge from these three Sundays as Leinster champions, then April 23 will have been worthwhile.

That they haven’t kicked on from this position in the not so distant past is the very reason why optimism out west is being tempered. There’s no one penning songs for September. And for good reason.

Go back to the last occasion they finished the spring as league champions — 2010 — when Cork were dismissed in the decider with eight points to spare, but the Tribesmen didn’t back it up come championship.

Successive defeats to Kilkenny and Tipperary brought an end to their summer, before a single horse had bolted at Ballybrit.

Or fresher still is 2012. The 10-point Leinster final thumping of Kilkenny proved a once-off, as Cody’s men took the verdict when they reconvened that September.

Each one of these failed campaigns will continue to be referenced until such time as a Galway team comes along and changes the record, and by that we mean the record which shows it is 29 years since Conor Hayes climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand.

Larkin says this particular bunch are different. The selector holds them in the highest esteem.

“When these lads hurl, there is no better team, in my opinion,” declared the Galway selector.

“We came in just perfect. I won’t say I’m shell-shocked [with the result], because we knew this was in the lads. We expected to win.”

Putting to one side for a moment that 16-point winning margin, probably the most encouraging aspect of the league from management’s viewpoint is that they are almost at the finishing line in terms of knowing their strongest starting XV.

From the defence which limited Tipperary’s forward unit to just six points from play, the sole position up for debate is the number four shirt being contested by Paul Killeen and John Hanbury.

David Burke and Johnny Coen have struck up a formidable partnership at midfield and, while Conor Cooney was absent at Limerick owing to a calf injury, he’ll come back at Niall Burke’s expense. That leaves Johnny Glynn as an option off the bench.

It has been a very long time since a Galway team picked itself and didn’t end with an argument over who would fill the full and centre-back positions.

Gearoid McInerney has taken ownership of the latter position and says the strength-in-depth of the panel is driving them to new heights.

“We have someone for every position to come on. That is key to performance and pushing lads on.

“We need to push on from here. It is only good if we learn from this [performance] and push on.”

Another who was knocking about the Mackey Stand on Sunday was the aforementioned Conor Hayes. He’s optimistic Donoghue’s charges can carry this form into the more important months of summer.

“I thought Galway might run into a brick wall of intensity from Tipperary. The opposite happened. Hopefully, they can bottle that power play for the championship.

“When you get into this habit of winning, it is difficult to get out of it. We’ve only been beaten once this year and that was by Wexford. That was a game we should have won.

"There are a lot of teams who would love to be here as league champions. It does increase the confidence. Galway will be ready for the championship when it comes.”

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