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holy grail

'Anything other than an All-Ireland is not going to be good enough'

Galway defender David Collins insists the Tribesmen learned a lot from the League, even though it ended in relegation.

VETERAN GALWAY DEFENDER David Collins admits the Tribesmen’s season will be a failure unless they end their 28-year All-Ireland drought this September.

Falling at the final hurdle for the second time in four seasons was hard to take for such a proud hurling county and the player unrest that followed last autumn only added to the pain.

The ousting of manager Anthony Cunningham, following a controversial player heave in the wake of their September loss to Kilkenny, has hiked up pressure on the new management team to deliver the Holy Grail, and in quick-smart time.

And Collins, who is in his 13th season as an inter-county hurler, is under no illusions.

“Anything other than an All-Ireland is not going to be good enough,” Collins said.

“That’s what the pressure is and if you shy away from that where are you going to go?

“We wanted change and we got change. Now we have to fulfill our side.”

Many have already written off Galway’s championship hopes following their relegation from Division 1A of the League. A home defeat to Cork, who failed to even knock Tipperary off stride in their Munster championship clash on Sunday, has got many questioning where Galway stand among hurling’s top sides.

But Liam Mellows man Collins, who is reeling from a county championship defeat to Ardrahan at the weekend, insists the Tribesmen will be stronger for their League campaign under new boss Micheál Donoghue, even if it did end with a whimper.

“It was a disappointing League campaign we had. But we learned a lot. We bled a lot of younger players and that’ll stand to us.”

And that, combined with their run to the biggest day in hurling last summer, gives them plenty of motivation to prove they can be crowned the best team in the land.

“The experience from last year is fantastic; the All-Ireland final and the hurt that is there from losing,” Collins explains.

We lost in 2012 and had a shocking campaign in 2013 and it took us until 2015 to get back.

“Then we’re up a couple of points at half time and we lose it. It’s still a bitter pill to swallow and why we lost it is still unanswered but we have to try and go out and right the wrongs.”

First up on their championship calendar is a Leinster SHC quarter-final date with Westmeath on 5 June. The first of five steps on the way to the Promised Land.

If, as expected, Galway overcome the Lake County in Mullingar, they will face the winner of Offaly and Laois two weeks later, with a Leinster final date with Dublin or Kilkenny at stake.

There is no hiding the fact it is a kind draw for Donoghue’s charges. And while Collins toes the party line in insisting Westmeath won’t be taken lightly, he does admit they already have their sights set on the bigger goals.

“We’re going to be looking at this as a stepping stone towards where we need to go,” Collins explains.

“You’ve got five games to win an All-Ireland and you need to win them all so you need to be peaking now.

“We have to look ahead and look towards route one, win Leinster and you’re into an All-Ireland semi-final. Then, hopefully, into your All-Ireland.

“It’s a massive stepping stone if you can go that way and we need to go that way. If you remember 2012 we won the Leinster under Anthony and it was like straight into an All-Ireland semi-final and we were moving well. You win all the games and you’re on the right road.”

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Motivation, and its abundance for this Galway panel, is a common theme at the moment. And the passing of Galway legend and former GAA president Joe McDonagh last weekend has given Donoghue’s panel another cause to fight for.

A man who became synonymous with hurling in the county following their 1980 All-Ireland win. A man who has been mourned across the nation, not just in Galway.

“He did everything for Galway hurling and I think this has to spur on a Galway revival.

“He would love it, everyone would love it. The strength is there and he was massive for Galway. He was an absolute character.

“Joe was a real passionate guy, a real hurler and a real gentleman but a massive loss. And my condolences to the family of course.

“But we as Galway hurlers will go out and do him proud hopefully this year you know and really turn things around. It’s a powerful message that you have to drive.”

Galway hurler David Collins was in DCU to launch the A.Menarini ‘Get Breathless for COPD’ charity cycle. The two-day cycle organised by A.Menarini Pharmaceuticals Ireland, will see 50 cyclists travel from Galway to Dublin on 10 and 11 June with the aim of raising awareness and funds for COPD Support Ireland, 

COPD is a devastating chronic lung condition that affects over 380,000 people in Ireland, and about 270,000 people remain undiagnosed.

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