In his 10 years as an inter-county manager, Kevin Walsh has never known anything like the “relentless” spate of injuries which have plagued the Galway squad this season.
Ahead of Sunday’s Connacht SFC final at home to Roscommon, Galway boss Walsh has confirmed that neither Damien Comer (ankle) nor Ciarán Duggan (knee) will be available. Paul Conroy, who recently returned to the fold following his double leg break against Kerry last July, is unlikely to feature while it will be “nip-and-tuck” to see if club footballer of the year Kieran Molloy is available after twisting his ankle last week.
Returning to the fray after varying injury-enforced lay-offs are Peter Cooke, Sean Kelly, Adrian Varley, and Declan Kyne, although the manager said a final call has yet to be made on the potential involvement of this quartet.
Between the Corofin players who were club-tied during the spring and the numbers in and out of the sickbay, Walsh, in his fifth year overseeing Galway, has never experienced such a hit to his resources.
“It’s relentless and it’s tough to handle,” said Walsh.
It’s a heavy workload on backroom teams. The long-term injuries were long-term so we knew there was a time frame on them which we had to deal with it.
"We had that warning time to try and develop other players so that’s been the plus side. But it’s been a tough year with injuries in general.”
The Galway boss said the training workload of his players was constantly being monitored and the injuries sustained during the league were “mainly bad luck”.
“It’s knee injuries, shoulder injuries, or a lot of ankle injuries that required surgery, and I think that’s either impact or it’s just a twist. If it was soft tissue, hamstrings, and groins, you’d have to be looking really, really deeply at it, but they are not the biggest issues. It’s just bad luck, to be honest.”
The extent of Galway’s injury woes were seen in the team put out against Sligo in the Connacht semi-final, the starting 15 containing just seven players who began last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.
Walsh’s hope is that Damien Comer, sidelined since damaging his ankle during a St Stephen’s Day soccer match, will return to full fitness in the next fortnight.
“Damien is an option that not too many in the country have.
We are missing him at the minute so we just have to work around that. Declan Kyne, who has missed a lot, is back training. One of the biggest things in all this is that a lot of people are back now, which is good, but time on the ball is going to be required.
With regard to Kieran Molloy, whose first championship start for Galway, against Sligo, ended after 16 minutes because of a shoulder injury, Walsh lamented the Corofin defender’s run of bad luck.
“The shoulder has been giving him a problem over the years. Long-term, he’ll have to look after it. It’s one of those injuries that it keeps popping out. He had recovered fully, but now he’s under pressure with the ankle. It only happened last week. He’s in a fight against time at the minute.”