Ger Loughnane once labelled Kilkenny “functional beyond belief” but the term could easily have applied to Galway’s first Championship outing, something Padraic Mannion is entirely proud of.
Loughnane, who managed Galway for a spell, didn’t mean it in a positive way when he hit out at Kilkenny’s robotic, almost businesslike performances. Yet, it’s just what Mannion wanted from the Tribesmen. Consistency has been a big problem for a county that hasn’t won the All-Ireland since 1988 and nobody was quite sure how the recent Allianz League final win over Tipperary would affect the players.
Eyebrows were initially raised when Galway held a homecoming celebration of sorts at the St Thomas club for the league win though registering 2-28 against Dublin was a clear sign of their firm focus. In truth, Galway appeared to be going through the motions at times as they turned in a good, but not great, performance to set up a Leinster semi-final clash with Offaly.
“Consistency has been the problem down the years and it was a big thing for us to back up that league final win with another solid performance,” said Mannion, a key performer in Galway’s half-back line during the 14-point win. “Having said that, there’s plenty to work on, especially the goal Dublin scored before half-time. We could have been six up instead we went in three up, so we have to work on things like that. But you need things to work on otherwise you wouldn’t go back to training so it’s onwards and upwards from here.”
Mannion insisted the hype surrounding Galway’s surprise league final win over the All-Ireland holders, and the ease of the success in particular, didn’t go to the players’ heads. “No, because nearly all the players here have been successful in one way or the other with some team over the years so you know the hype that comes with big wins and you expect it,” he said.
“You’re in your own little bubble and you just have to block all that out and keep working hard, keep training away, just try to perform on the pitch if you can.”
Galway scored 2-28 against Dublin, four points better than the 3-21 they clocked up against Tipp. All six starting forwards scored by half-time against Dublin as Galway again spread out the scores among their talented attack. Nobody quite stood out but everyone played their part.
“You have to back your forwards to do their job,” said right half-back Mannion.
“If we get the ball under pressure at the back, you can’t always be giving them perfect ball in. They know that and they just want the ball in anyway at all. They’re prepared to work hard for it and the scores come when that work rate is there.
“The work rate is the number one thing they really pride themselves. The scores will come with that then. They don’t care who gets the scores and we don’t care either as long as scores are going on the board.”
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