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A picture of the Liam MacCarthy on his phone helped Galway defender focus on 2017 goal

Gearoid McInerney emerged as central to Galway’s success in 2017.

GEAROID MCINERNEY MAY have had to be patient for his chance to impact on the inter-county senior stage but that didn’t stop him setting ambitious targets when he made his breakthrough.

McInerney Galway hurler Gearoid McInerney at the announcement of the September PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month Awards. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

The 26-year-old made his senior championship debut for the Galway hurlers in 2014 and while he manned a defensive berth last season as they exited at the All-Ireland semi-final stage against Tipperary, it was this year that his influence became really pronounced for the Tribesmen.

McInerney manned the centre-back berth all season and shone when his county needed him most in the key knockout wins over Tipperary and Waterford.

He was celebrating on the first Sunday of September and getting his hands on the canister had been the plan all along.

Gearoid McInerney lifts the Liam McCarthy Gearoid McInerney lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I like to set benchmarks. I did this year, I set goals this year around January – February time.

“I changed the picture on my phone to something motivational, something kind of close to me. That kind of helped it to me.

“The goals, you kind of start a bit low; make number six my own position, right up to winning the All-Ireland and a few personal goals along the way.

“The picture was the Liam MacCarthy Cup on the phone. I only changed it back there the last day because I even forgot it was there, it was there so long.”

The success was one to savour for the McInerney family. Gearoid’s input offered a direct link to Galway’s previous triumph 29 years ago, his father Gerry part of an iconic half-back line that powered the team forward.

“I spent most of the (All-Ireland final) night with him in the Citywest, he was actually being plagued more for photos than I was,” laughs Gearoid.

“It was a good special feeling. They’re recognised for the great thing they did, doing two-in-a-row. He’s delighted we won it now and there’s maybe new heroes for kids growing up.

“It’s great for the county and them too. You’d know everyone on that team, I’m not sure is it going to be the same in 29 years to remember who played for us. That team was iconic in fairness. It’s just even great to be mentioned in the same context as them.”

Gearoid McInerney celebrates Gearoid McInerney celebrates Galway's September win over Waterford. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Even in the off season, he’ll continue to set targets. There is Oranmore-Maree’s Galway intermediate exploits with a semi-final looming next Saturday afternoon against Meelick-Eyrecourt in Ballinasloe.

And the thoughts are drifting towards gearing up for the defence of Galway’s titles in 2018.

I always like this time of year for putting on a bit of body mass and cutting it down through the year.

“I like to take the opportunity to get back into the gym side of things; not so much the hurling side of things, you let that come later on because you get plenty of that. I like to get back into the gym side of things straight away.

“I don’t think there’s a ceiling on it. The same with hurling, there’s no ceiling on how much you can improve. You need to be better next year to be the same.

“We have to strive to go through that ceiling. There are no limitations there really.”

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