Former Galway manager Cyril Farrell is baffled by the lack of energy shown by his county in this year’s hurling championship.
After a tame defeat by Dublin in the Leinster Championship, Galway only rallied in the final quarter before bowing out of the All-Ireland series to Waterford at the weekend.
“Go back to the Dublin match, for me the rot set in there,” Farrell said, on the Irish Examiner GAA Podcast. “These lads are training all year, but whatever they are doing, there’s no energy in the team.
“They’re all able to hurl, but lads that you do expect to have a good bit of zip in them, that was lacking.
“Galway are frustrated because people would feel they are much better than that. But now they are going to say that team is finished and they are going to have to rebuild a team.”
Though a rebound was expected after the Dublin defeat, Farrell says there was disquiet locally when the Galway team was announced for the Waterford game.
“The feeling was they’re getting a second chance, very lucky. But when the team was picked people were saying, hold on a minute here, there’s lads playing terribly bad and they are still on. I don’t know what form they were going on.
“Definitely, the feeling now is that panel has to be rejigged and restructured. Lads with pace. An energy drive needs to come into it.
“If I hear lads telling me how many kgs they can lift in the gym. It gives me a pain in my head. Lifting kgs is lovely, what about hitting the bloody ball and putting it over the bar?"
Farrell accepts it has been difficult for manager Shane O’Neill, his two years in charge seeing Covid-interrupted campaigns. And suggests simply changing the coach isn’t necessarily the answer.
“It was very hard for Shane O'Neill.
“There is a lot of stuff in Galway. You could pick a brand new 15 and they mightn’t win anything but they’d hold their own. There’s plenty of choice.
“That team has given great service. They won their All-Ireland, people say they should have won more, but you'll find a couple of those lads will go themselves.
“They are still great club hurlers, but that’s different to county.
"The last two games have shown they weren’t at the pace. It’s very easy to change managers, but they have to revitalise it.”
Farrell, who won three All-Irelands as Galway manager, regrets the county hasn’t made more of its recent underage success, having just won a fourth minor All-Ireland on the trot.
“You have to look at the transition from the underage to the senior team. We’re not making good value of what we have.
“When you have the stuff you have to make something of it. Limerick, when they got the show on the road, they made hay while the sun shined. We didn’t. We got one. Now that team is more or less gone.
“The quality is there around the place. And they are in college, they are around, they’re not gone away.”
Coming back to selection, Farrell was bemused that Jason Flynn, who scored two goals during Galway's fourth-quarter rally, didn't start the game.
"To me he has more hurling in one finger than a lot of them have in 10. But it's (seemingly) his work-rate, his hooking. Lads, give him the ball and he will score. I'm told that's old-style."
He was also surprised 2017 All-Ireland winning captain David Burke didn’t feature against Waterford.
“A terrible loss to that Galway team as a leader was David Burke. Okay, he’s given great service, his best years are behind him, but he’s a leader on the pitch, he’s able to make the right decisions, with club and county. When he’s missing there’s no one replacing him. For me, he’s a terribly vital cog, for his presence alone.
“Fintan Burke would still be the future, but you need leaders. The hurling doesn't come into it as much as the leadership at times.”
Also speaking on the podcast, TJ Ryan, who managed Burke to three county titles with St Thomas’, agreed.
“If I was going to war in the morning, I’d certainly have Davey Burke in the middle of the field, bringing me to 50, 55 minutes and get some young fellas to bring us home.”