Lynskey: Galway well prepared for the difficult second album

Gearoid McInerney

The year ends with an eight, Galway are reigning All-Ireland champions, there’s a McInerney in the half-back line and a Cooney in the half-forwards.

Thirty years on from that title defence, the stars are aligned once more but there is substance behind the horoscopy.

Gearóid McInerney may carry the name, hold the hurley the same way and, minus the moustache, have the look of his father Gerry but he is of another mould.

“He’s the stature of Brian Hogan, a big strong man,” enthuses former Galway centre-forward Brendan Lynskey.

Good under the high ball and so difficult to push off it. I’m delighted I’m retired seeing him. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet either. He holds the middle so well and with all respect to the centre-backs before him we haven’t seen somebody do that since Tony Keady. We always found that hard but Gearóid does it so well.

Lynskey does see some elements of his old team-mate in Gearóid’s game but what has impressed him most is how he accepted the responsibility entrusted upon him by Micheál Donoghue.

“He was probably thrown in at the deep end last year but fair play to Micheál Donoghue for seeing him as the man to fill the role. He didn’t just fill the middle last year; he commanded it. He’s so difficult to get around, he covers that section so well. He tracks back and carries the ball with purpose. For a big man, when he is blocked in he always seems to find a way to get the ball out.”

McInerney himself knows there is that perception of Galway being a physical side more than anything else but he chooses to take something from it than be upset by its inaccuracy.

You hear what you want to hear sometimes but you have to be open to it all and maybe that’s something we can address this year and see.

Lynskey argues Daithí Burke and McInerney would now be the first two names on Donoghue’s team-sheet.

He would have plenty of time for Austin Gleeson but took great pleasure in seeing how McInerney snuffed him out in last year’s final.

“The problem Waterford have is the same problem Wexford have now — if Austin Gleeson or Lee Chin aren’t firing then it’s more than likely the team aren’t.

“Two or three years ago, Galway were the same: Doing okay but not as well as they could because they were still relying a lot on Joe Canning. There would have been a lot of weight on Joe’s shoulders but now he’s a cog in the machine. Everyone of them are. They need one or two more because the games will be coming thick and fast in the coming weeks.”

Donoghue named his team last night but most in Galway could have predicted over a dozen of the line-up.

When you can nearly name it yourself, when you know at least 12 or 14 of the 15 it puts you in a strong position,” reckons Lynskey. “That’s the first year in a long time that we could do that.

At the same time, that might leave Galway open to charges of complacency, an element of success that McInerney is mindful of. “You just have to keep challenging yourself and be brutally honest. There might be times where there is a small bit of complacency but you need to nip that in the bud and move on from it.”

Lynskey senses the fact the Liam MacCarthy Cup currently resides across the Shannon will aid rather than inhibit Galway.

“I see Galway hurling better this year than last but that doesn’t mean they will win the All-Ireland. But I see them playing with freedom now that the monkey that had been carried around for 29 years is gone. Now there will be fluency and when you’re All-Ireland champions there might be expectations but they’re the right ones.

“I still believe we were lucky to win in ’88 but we knew we weren’t going to lose. We had the experience of ’87 and knew if we kept hurling we were there. I feel it’s easier to win after winning then to win after losing. I know the word everyone fears is complacency and we all dread something like the Tipperary saga last year but I can’t see that happening in Galway. Micheál Donoghue seems to have these guys grounded. Not being promoted was totally irrelevant. They’re in a good place.”

And McInerney knows there are bullseyes on their backs, starting with Offaly taking aim at them in Tullamore this evening.

“You’d be like that yourself; you’d like to go out and beat whoever are considered All-Ireland champions or the stronger teams. It is something you’d have in your mind that you want to do so maybe teams do have that to a certain extent. They are a big strong physical team and they are a threat and they will be a challenge for us to overcome.”

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