Enough with the criticism, enough with September misery, enough of the famine.
Between the semi-final win over Tipperary and Sunday’s decider, the Galway management had a simple mantra for their players; enough is enough.
It was a message the players communicated amongst one and other when Pauric Mahony fired Waterford in front for the first time on 43 minutes. Johnny Coen, David Burke and Joe Canning told their team-mates, in no uncertain terms, that 2017 could not follow in the footsteps of 2015, 2012, 2005 and all those other finals where Galway left empty-handed. They’d had enough of second best.
Selector Francis Forde accepts there was significant pressure on this group entering the final given the county’s failure-laden past. That they never allowed that pressure to stifle them is why Liam MacCarthy was on stage at Pearse Stadium last night.
“If you’re coming from a county that’s lost finals they’ve been in, that becomes a burden,” said Forde.
“So, that’s there in the background. The key is you channel that so it’s not a burden and instead becomes a driving force.
“Enough is enough because as a county and a hurling team, we’d endured a lot and taken a lot of criticism. In fairness to the boys, they haven’t responded to it. They’ve taken it on the chin.”
“A key factor in them doing so was the collective composure shown following Waterford’s move to the front early in the second period. The Déise confidence was flying. Galway were reverting to old Galway. Adrian Tuohey caught the sliotar three times. John Hanbury picked it off the ground. David Burke got himself a soft yellow. They could have wilted from here. They didn’t. The difference with this bunch of lads was they were able to hold their composure, regain their shape and get the scores.”
Having failed to secure a Celtic Cross during his playing days in the nineties, Forde was delighted to be asked onto Donoghue’s backroom team, revealing they, along with Noel Larkin, were in no way reluctant to take up the post given the controversial manner in which the tenure of Anthony Cunningham had finished.
“We could have said that timing wasn’t great. At the end of the day, we had huge belief in this group of players. I remember a conversation I had with Micheál. He was involved with Tipperary at the time. Maybe, it was 2014. Jason Flynn, Cathal Mannion were some of the lads that had come on during the league and you could see there was huge potential in the squad. We felt, maybe, if we could add 5%.
“There is also a sense of duty there, that if you feel you can bring something to it, it is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.” We take it Donoghue, Forde and Larkin will be leading the title defence in 2018?
“In a few weeks’ time, we’ll sit down and see what the future holds.”