Micheál Donoghue wants revamp of hurling format

Micheál Donoghue

Galway manager Micheál Donoghue wants a rethink of the provincial hurling championships after a gruelling four games in five weekends this year.

Donoghue’s side were the only side to manage to win three weekend’s in a row in either the Munster or Leinster championships this summer, and even with their unbeaten run, the Galway boss has called for a realignment of match fixtures.

Galway face Kilkenny in Sunday’s Leinster hurling final on the back of four wins from four — including an eight-point triumph over the Cats in Salthill along the way — but he admits the schedule took its toll on his squad.

With their spot in the Leinster final already wrapped up ahead of their last group game with Dublin the pressure was off the reigning All-Ireland champions, but Donoghue insisted they wanted to maintain their air of invincibility and beat Pat Gilroy’s side.

It has been great viewing. I think because of the structures for both of them it was always going to be competitive like, and there was always going to be a bit of attrition in it. But it has been fairly hectic like,” said Donoghue.

“I suppose Munster, because of all of the teams there is very little between them and there was always going to be big casualties, but there has been some spectacle for the last couple of weeks.

“But it was totally uncharted waters. We have always spoken about it and every management team have commented on it but until you go through it (you don’t know).

“We’re delighted to have played the games and obviously when you’re winning it it is easier, like. It is it is fairly taxing, but look, that’s why you have a squad. It’s good for everyone just to go through it but there’ll have to be some tweaks in it next year.”

That win over Kilkenny at Pearse Stadium earlier this summer came with a caveat attached though. Galway entered the game on the back of a down week, while the Cats were in their third outing on the bounce. Donoghue doesn’t think that win will impact this weekend’s clash.

I think we were fortunate, we had the Offaly game then we had the week off again and then once we kept going, you know, we knew the next three weeks were going to be massive for us.

“I think everyone had to prepare for it in the best way that they could. It was a big game for us in terms of it being the first one at home. But as I said, we always put huge emphasis on our home games.

“I think looking forward no two games are the same anyway so that’s definitely in the memory bank. We know it’s going to be a huge...we have huge respect for them they have been the standard bearers for so many years.” A win at Croke Park this weekend will put Galway within 70 minutes of a return to the All-Ireland final, but the Galway boss is determined to stick to his ‘one game at a time’ mantra.

It has served his side well as they reeled off straightforward wins over Offaly, Wexford and Kilkenny, before they were pushed all the way by Dublin in their final game.

Defeat this weekend will pit the losing side against either a Joe McDonagh Cup finalist or one of the third place teams from the provincial championships — either Limerick or Wexford — but the Tribe’s boss wants to retain the Leinster title.

We don’t look that far ahead,” said Donoghue. “Our job is to concentrate on the next game...we’re not looking beyond that.

“The way we prepare for games, and I know everyone says it, but we’re very respectful and mindful of the opposition. Playing them [Kilkenny] again is obviously going to be a massive challenge but as I said, it’s up to ourselves now and how we prepare for it and get ready for it.

“We know it’s going to be a huge test, a huge challenge again. We know they’re going to come wanting to win it as well. It’s going to be a totally different game to the one that’s in Pearse Stadium and we’re well aware of that.”

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