Danny Cummins claims that Galway, traditionally recognised as Gaelic football’s stylists, need to improve their use of ‘the dark arts’ to challenge for top honours.
Kevin Walsh’s side will compete in Division 1 of the Allianz League in 2018, which attacker Cummins believes will provide vital insights into exactly how top teams win big games.
The Claregalway man, who will compete for his club in Sunday’s AIB Connacht IFC final, said it was noticeable how teams that reached this year’s All-Ireland semi-finals and final displayed superior ‘in-game management’.
He spoke specifically about the closing moments of the final, when Dublin forwards dragged down Mayo defenders to ensure that David Clarke’s kick-out didn’t reach a man, saying that showed Dublin’s experience.
He also argued that while Lee Keegan was “slated” for throwing his GPS unit at Dean Rock before he kicked Dublin’s winning point, “anyone would do it if they had to, whatever it took”.
Galway have beaten Mayo in Connacht for the last two summers, only to ultimately exit the championship at a much earlier stage than their neighbours and Cummins said they need to be smarter when playing the top teams.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a case of temperament, just a bit of cuteness,” said Cummins, a goalscorer against Donegal in the qualifiers. He said it’s all about “knowing when you have to do certain things, at certain times, or knowing to take certain options throughout a game that ebbs and flows. Little things like that, that are not fully football related, but are part of the game in this day and age.”
Cummins believes Galway will gain that vital know-how in Division 1, saying Tyrone manager Mickey Harte may have been onto something when he claimed a number of years ago that a Division 2 side wouldn’t win the All-Ireland.
“I think Division 1 will do a lot for us this year. With regards to competing for Sam Maguire, I think you need to be in Division 1 really, playing those games, week in, week out.”
Cummins admitted that Roscommon, who shocked Galway in the Connacht final, had a vital “edge” that day.
“I wouldn’t say they were hungrier than us; everyone wants to win a Connacht title when you are in a provincial final. They just had that little edge that was prepared to win the dirty ball and just get those little inches. Yeah, the dark arts. I suppose everyone chats about it, but no-one really says boo about it [publicly].
“When I watch, say, a game in Connacht, whether I am playing or just watching, and then I watch an All-Ireland semi-final or final, the amount of stuff you see going on, you say, ‘how does this happen?’ or ‘how does this lad get away with that?’
“But at that level there is so much other stuff going on that it is just part and parcel of it and you need to experience it. I have small bits of experience with it. Maybe as a panel we have bits and pieces of it. As a full team, we definitely haven’t got enough, really.”
Of the controversial closing moments of the All-Ireland final, Cummins said: “Dublin were just a lot more experienced as to how to go about it. Different teams would probably wait for that shout from the sideline, or wait to hear for something, but their in-game management on the pitch is just top notch, that they can do that.
“That is a seriously impressive part of their game that has just become second nature to them, really.”
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