Galway still answering their critics, says David Burke

Did Ger Loughnane’s description of the Galway hurlers as gutless get a reaction from those players? Ask David Burke.

“I didn’t look into it that much but other lads probably did. Different lads motivate themselves differently before games; when you’re playing games at a high level all the time you have to motivate yourself all the time, because you can only go to that well once or twice.

“It was a bonus, in a way, whatever way lads used it, but the management didn’t use it in any way. It was just worrying about our own plan and how we’d hurl. There were lads who were cracked enough about what was said, but at the end of the day we’re only playing an amateur game, doing it for ourselves, our families, and our clubs. What these lads say doesn’t really matter.

“I looked back on it since, and what he said. He’s probably frustrated and sees this Galway team as a good bunch of hurlers, ‘why can’t they just deliver?’ He might regret it again a few days later, I don’t know.”

Their victory over Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-final may have insulated them from criticism for now, but Burke knows that could change.

“The lads who were clapped on the back the last day... that that can change in the blink of an eye, in 70 minutes.

“We’re fully focused on the job at hand. We know Tipp are a serious team, they walked through Munster easily enough, past some good teams. They have three wins under their belt. It’ll be an interesting game, and it’ll come down to who wants it more. It’s set up well, because I don’t think we played that well the last day.”

It’s a chance to ditch the tag of inconsistency, certainly.

“That’s the big thing we’ve been trying to drive since Anthony [Cunningham] was there,” says Burke. “And now with Micheal coming in, and I think we have, a small bit, even though we lost games in the league and lost to Kilkenny. Games may not have gone our way and lads may have questioned the consistency, but there have been good performances there as well; even last year we beat teams we hadn’t been beating. The only team we haven’t beaten in the championship since I’ve come in have been Waterford, and the lads have taken a lot of confidence.

“It’s going to come down to the day against Tipp, whoever wants it more or works harder for the ball. If it comes down to turnovers... against Clare that was the main thing we focused on, pushing up on their puck-outs and defending from the front eight, getting turnovers there. It’ll be a simple game against Tipp, if we can do that on their backs. They set up a huge platform from their half-back line, the two Mahers, if we can stop them from delivering good quality ball to the inside line... you’d see their half-backs and midfield as the dangermen, because that’s where you need to stop it, at the source.”

Tipperary usually use an orthodox formation.

“The way modern hurling is gone, different teams try different things and you’d enjoy going out 15 on 15, may the best man win his battle, and if it’s a high-scoring game it’d be great to come out on top.

“It might be a shoot-out the next day or it might be a wet day and a low-scoring game, there could be tactics involved, who knows?

“You’d enjoy the prep going into this game, alright. It won’t be as severe mentally as it was thinking about what the others were were going to do — Clare were going to set up defensively — so I suppose you can enjoy it a bit more.”

He says it was encouraging to have beaten Tipp last year.

“You could go 50, 60 minutes and there’s nothing it it, and it comes down then to the last 10 minutes, who’s fitter, smarter on the ball, and that’s what it came down to last year; you couldn’t say we were better than Tipp for the whole 70 minutes, it came down to who wanted it more in that last five minutes.

“It could be the same again on Sunday. It could come down to a battle of wits, who can control the ball that bit better at the end.

There could be only a point or two in it at the end, but hopefully we’ll get a lead together in the first half.

“Last year, they hit us with a couple of sucker punches so, if we can prevent that happening, it should be a bit easier.”


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