Galway respect Sligo and value the Connacht Championship but they’re even looking beyond the Super 8s, says defender Eoghan Kerin.
Six years ago, current players such as Gareth Bradshaw, Gary O’Donnell, Thomas Flynn, Paul Conroy, and Seán Armstrong felt the bite of the underdog when Sligo beat them by five points at this same provincial semi-final stage.
Sligo hero that day, Adrian Marren, is still there alongside the likes of Kerin’s former college-mate Niall Murphy, and they will be respected. But this year’s Division 1 runners-up are a different animal and are aiming to see off Sligo in a professional manner as they set their sights on Croke Park.
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“We probably see ourselves as a top-eight team and we would be very disappointed if we don’t get to the Super 8s,” remarks Kerin. “With the championship structure this year, it will be interesting to see how teams react to playing week-on-week in the middle of the summer. I’d be disappointed if we weren’t.
“As much as we’re looking forward to this game and we’re not looking past the Connacht Championship, you’d like to see yourselves going onto bigger and better things.”
There’s little doubt Galway have an edge to them this season and eight opposing players and management figures have been sent off or suspended as a result of facing them. Kerin is not sure how to explain that one only that it’s no more Mr Nice Guy with the Tribesmen.
“The only sending-off was Paul (Conroy) in the National League and that was two yellow cards. I don’t know, I suppose we’re fronting up physically. Down through the years, Galway would have been perceived as a pushover and that’s a tag we’re anxious to lose because anytime you’re regarded as a soft touch, that’s when teams will go to town on you.
“I suppose you’re fighting your corner. I don’t think it’s through design that people have poor disciplinary records against us; I think it’s just the way it has happened.”
Having reviewed the recording of their third consecutive championship win over Mayo, Kerin reports Galway weren’t overly happy with how they played.
“I suppose it was one of those days when you are playing the local rivals, and you are just trying to get over the line in any way you can.”
His Annaghmore club-mate and Galway captain Damien Comer has been in scintillating form and Kerin smiles at how he has developed.
“I was always bigger than Damien when we were growing up, myself and Damien are from the same club.
“Damien would have been playing wing-back and wing-forward growing up, because he was of a smaller stature. You would know looking at him, he was always a smaller lad who had no fear. And now, he is a much bigger guy and he still has no fear.”
That All-Ireland senior club champions Corofin had no representative on the starting team against Mayo is as much a show of Galway’s strength as the awkwardness of the season’s schedule, reckons Kerin.
“Granted, they won the All-Ireland title but we got a good bit of momentum and then through no fault of their own they lost their chance. Bernie Power was starting at the end of last year but through no fault of his own lost his spot and Ruairí Lavelle has been playing really well. It’s hard for him to lose his spot.
“In saying that, the squad is really strong at the moment, even at the back-end of the league. I think we had seven or eight lads from Corofin involved last year and it was hard to bring in that same volume of player and for lads who were performing well in the league to miss out.
“Liam Silke is another lad who would be in the panel only he has gone travelling for the summer and Ian is working (in Dublin) so it’s difficult for him to get back as often as he would like but he’s key to everything. When he gets on the ball, he’s just magic.”
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