Michéal Donoghue: ‘Looking at any team, you want huge unity and spirit’

Galway boss Michéal Donoghue on his relationship with Derek McGrath, learning from Pat Lam, and learning from defeat

Q: How did this relationship between yourself and Derek come about?

A: Because we are of the same vintage, we made contact last year. We wouldn’t have been in regular contact, but during different periods of the year, we hopped things off each other. He is someone I have huge respect for. The biggest thing I find is that if you ring Derek, you can have a chat with him and hop things off him. He’s been good for me. The way he carries himself and the relationship he has with his own players is something we can all learn from.

Q: How do you see his relationship with the Waterford players?

A: There is great unity, a huge bond. There is huge trust there. Looking at any team, you want huge unity and spirit. They have that in abundance.

Q: How have you gone about fostering this unity within your own camp?

A: The management team you put in is very important. Noel Larkin, Franny Forde, Dave Morris, and Damien Joyce — we work really well together. When players can see that everyone knows their role and responsibility and there are no egos, that creates huge unity. We were under no illusions when we came in that the players had massive experience. We keep saying to them that they have to keep drawing from the good and bad. We are always learning. That is why it is good to talk to different managers from different sports.

Q: Who have you spoken to?

A: Pat Lam, Eric Elwood. It is great to get a different perspective.

Q: What did you take from your meetings with Lam?

A: He was such a humble person. Pat really bought into the west of Ireland and really brought everyone together. Once we met the players, one of the first things we said was that we have to try to create a team which Galway people want to come out and support. We’ve always emphasised the responsibility that goes with wearing the crest on your chest, having the right attitude. The boys have really bought into that. No more than any other sport, if people see you are working hard and trying to be the best you can be, you will get the support. For the duration of the championship, we have got massive support.

Q: You didn’t give Galway supporters a whole pile to cheer about when Wexford came to town in mid-February. How much of a setback was that defeat to your 2017 plans?

A: In the grander scheme of things, we just wanted to go as far as we could in the league to get as close to the Dublin game [Leinster quarter-final] as possible. Yes, there was disappointment. We met the leadership group on the Monday night after the Wexford game. They took huge onus and responsibility. We discussed the manner in which we lost the game. That was a huge learning for us in our whole development as a team. I know people refer back to the Waterford game, but the Wexford game… we sat down, had a chat, and the players knew exactly what we wanted after that game.

Q: Coming back to Sunday’s opponents, was there a false read on their semi-final winning margin given Cork played the last quarter with a man less?

A: They’ve been one of the most consistent teams in recent years. They were unfortunate last year not to progress to the All-Ireland final. They are going to be formidable.

Q: Your own playing career was cut short because of injury, have you found management more fulfilling?

A: You get good satisfaction. But it is not about me. Noel and Franny do as much as I do. Of course, when you are winning, it is like a drug.


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