It’s not cockiness or over-ambition, Justin O’Halloran maintains, that imbues his message to his players ahead of Sunday’s Connacht preliminary round against Roscommon in Gaelic Park. But belief. Sheer belief.
“A minute to go and we are five points up — that’s what we’ve been breeding into them for the last three months,” says the Cavan native.
“Five points up with one minute to go and not losing. Well sure, you have to be confident. There’s not much point if you’re not. We have the players. It’s just a matter of whether on the day we can produce it.
“We can play football at training on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday — it’s only a matter of going out and playing it at game time. There’d be no point doing it if we weren’t going to try to win it. That’s what it’s all about — winning. And if we can’t instil confidence in the players, there is no point in togging out. We’re confident anyway.”
O’Halloran, a selector to Seamus Sweeney when New York gave Galway the fright of their lives six years ago, sees similarities between that group and now.
“The 2010 team, we are pretty much on a par with them. That was one of our best teams in a while and hopefully we can produce it on the day. Strength-wise and physical-wise, we are the same calibre.”
He doesn’t hold any fear Roscommon have a strength and conditioning advantage over them. “From what I can gather from the players nowadays, they are all into strength and conditioning anyway. They all want to look good even if they don’t play football. It’s not like 15 years ago — just go out training and then go drinking. It’s all about looking good. It’s a different world we are in.”
O’Halloran hopes his experience of 2010 will stand to him in getting his players ready for Sunday. “Leading up to the game, it will help immensely but you know yourself when the game starts it will take its own turn, you just got to roll with your instincts and hopefully they will be the right ones.”
Of 2010, when Galway eventually won by seven points, he remembers: “I think it was that we trained severely hard for the two or three months beforehand. Everybody gave whatever they had for that training and they weren’t fatigued during the game. They were able to keep going for Galway and go for 70 minutes and we were able to turn them over all the time. Unfortunately, we lost two men to red cards and I’d say only for that it would have been a different result. The boys just wanted it.”
Unlike last year when New York had warm-up games against Cavan, they’ve had to rely on their own in-house games as well as a recent fixture against Philadelphia.
O’Halloran, 42, is adamant the Exiles will land a shock one day despite questions about their continued presence in the provincial competition. “It’s the biggest day for GAA in New York every year and sooner or later it will happen that we’ll take a scalp and hopefully it’ll be this year and if it does, it’s only going to get bigger and bigger every year. So, I personally would love to see it keep going and I’m sure 99% of the people in New York would love to see it keep going.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved