Galway captain Paul Conroy is confident that the Tribesmen will get their championship off to a winning start this weekend in New York.
The St James’ club man was confirmed as the 2015 skipper by Kevin Walsh before training on Tuesday night and he admits it’s a huge honour.
The Galway squad depart for New York this morning and face Ian Galvin’s side on Sunday at Gaelic Park.
New York manager Ian Galvin has made two personnel changes to his starting line-up ahead of this Sunday’s Connacht SFC first round clash (8pm Irish time).
Conroy took over as captain from Finian Hanley last year and after missing the first two games of the league, is delighted to be leading the troops again.
“I was skipper last year, it’s a big honour so I’m delighted to get it again in Kevin’s first year. It was only last night before training that he announced it.
“I missed out on the first part of the league when I got a bit of work done on my knee. That was done at Christmas so I was a bit slow coming back.
“I had keyhole surgery on the cartilage in my knee, so that meant I was only out for six to eight weeks. We finished the league strongly and on a personal basis things went alright there.”
It’s now seven years since Galway won their last Connacht title — defeating Mayo in 2008 — and Conroy is desperate for his side to recapture former glories.
With Mayo seeking to be the competition’s first five-in-a-row winners since 1910, the pressure is on Galway and the other counties in the province to up their efforts.
Conroy insists Galway are making good progress under Walsh in terms of preparation and performance.
“You do need to be very fit nowadays. If you’re not fully there, it you’re not 100 per cent in terms of injuries, there’s no point being out there. Nowadays, you have to have it in the legs if you want to be able to get back into defence and then get back up the field again. If you don’t you’ll soon be found out. I think the lads are in good shape.
“This year we’re trying to use the football as much as we can and like every other team you try and get bodies behind the ball as much as you can.
“There’s not a whole lot different compared to other years but maybe we’ve tweaked a couple of things and they make a difference as well.”
Conroy looks set to line up alongside Fiontán Ó Curraoin at midfield against New York, but Galway are now spoilt for choice in the crucial engine room.
Under 21 star Enda Tierney saw game time there during the league, Tom Flynn is just back from injury, while Gary O’Donnell, Finian Hanley and Gareth Bradshaw have all featured in the sector.
Conroy has featured around the field in his Galway career — proving a dangerous full-forward in past Connacht championships — but he’s happy with his current posting.
“I grew up playing out in the middle so that’s the place I think I’m best, Last year I was inside a lot. Maybe my fitness wasn’t as good as it should have been to play out the middle so I was moved inside.
“But I’m very happy now to be back out the middle again. I suppose you have more freedom than you would back inside in the full-forward line or half-forward line.
“In fairness, there’s good competition this year for places. I suppose there’s no point having players unless you deliver on the day, but that competition is great and it drives everyone on.”
NEW YORK (Connacht SFC, Gaelic Park, The Bronx, *home county in brackets):
G Joyce (Down); R McGinley (Tyrone), G McCartan (Down), K Quinn (Down); B Gibbons (Mayo), K Scally (Westmeath), C Maginn (Down); A Hope (Dublin), B Connor (Offaly); R Wherity (Donegal), N McFeely (Derry), D Freeman (Monaghan); JJ Mathews (Longford), PJ Banville (Wexford), G O’Driscoll (Kerry) Subs: J O’Sullivan (Kerry), J Kelly (Offaly), J McGeeney (Armagh), E McPhillips (Cavan), K Moynagh (Cavan), E Ward (Leitrim), D Nation (Cork), S O’Sullivan (Kerry), M Hallissey (Kerry), S Hogan (St Barnabas), G McCullagh (Meath), S O’Neill (Wexford)
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