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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 6 June, 2020

'Video analysis, preparation off the pitch, style of play' - Galway's bid to close the gap on Dublin

Defender Gary O’Donnell says they learned a lot from their two defeats to the champions in 2018.

Gary O’Donnell pictured at AIB’s launch of the 2019 All Ireland senior football championship.
Gary O’Donnell pictured at AIB’s launch of the 2019 All Ireland senior football championship.
Image: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

TWO OF THE three games Galway lost in 2018 arrived against All-Ireland champions Dublin.

Jim Gavin’s side defeated the Tribesmen by four points in the Division 1 league final and that margin stretched to nine in the last four of the All-Ireland series. 

Testing themselves against the best team in the land – and arguably the greatest in history – threw out some valuable lessons for Galway boss Kevin Walsh and his team. 

As they bid to keep the upward trajectory going into the summer, defender Gary O’Donnell is well aware of the work they’ve got ahead of them.

“That’s exactly what we highlighted after this year,” he says. “The progression that we have made is quite often, I wouldn’t say the easiest part of it, but it’s the part that a lot of teams find that they can do. But it’s the last 5% that’s the hardest. 

“We’re looking at every nook and cranny that we can to find that edge. Video analysis, preparation off the pitch, style of play, we’re doing everything we can in regards to that. 

“We know it’s not going to be easy because there are other teams around us chomping at the bit as well too. Dublin are going for five-in-a-row as well so they’re one of the finest teams that you could come across. 

“We know there’s very little margin for error as well too. Considering our All-Ireland semi-final last year, we need to learn from those mistakes and I think we might do as well.” 

Following a league campaign where they comfortably survived in the top flight despite being minus a host of regulars, O’Donnell says “the summer will tell” whether they’re closer to Dublin in 2019.

“We were very disappointed after the Dublin game last year. We spurned two or three goal chances, when we went two points up we missed a penalty, missed a one-on-one.

“We felt we were causing them trouble but at the same time we went in two points down at half-time and at the start of the second-half too we were well in it but we just weren’t getting the scoreboard ticking. 

Philip McMahon and Damien Comer Philip McMahon and Damien Comer compete for possession during the All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“That was one thing we addressed and we were very disappointed we didn’t just push on but that’s the reality of it. A team like Dublin are going to punish you.

“They’re not the champions for no reason and that’s something we’ll have to address this year when we’re in a game that we make it count. The summer will tell that story.”

Ian Burke missed the majority of the league due to his commitments with Corofin, while Damien Comer has missed the entire year so far with a broken foot. In their absence youngster Anton O’Laoi and former Galway United soccer player Padraig Cunningham gained starting berths for the Connacht opener against London.

“Damien is a massive player and he’s our captain as well. He’s been out a while so hopefully we can get him back at some stage during the summer.

“There’s a good bit of freshness to the set-up. You often see young players coming through and they need a year to find their feet. The boys have hit the ground running. Padraig was there last year as well but it’s great.

“One thing Kevin has done is he’s handed out debuts over the last few years to a lot of players. It strengthens the panel a lot. Moreso than last year I think we’ve as strong a panel as we’ve had in a few years.

“Every year the panel never stays the same. Even this year now we have a lot of new faces in the panel. And you’re progressing every year and you’re trying to pass on messages and Kevin is trying to get a certain style of play. 

“You nearly have to go over it and repeat it again and again because you forget that new players are coming in and are not used to it or they’re coming off a club set-up where they’re doing things that wouldn’t be good enough for inter-county. 

“So that can be difficult at times and challenging to keep the momentum going all the time as well as integrating new ideas and stuff like that. 

“In fairness, we’re doing it as best as we can and hopefully it will all come good.”

Gary O'Donnell and the Galway team arrive at McGovern Park Gary O'Donnell and the Galway team arrive at McGovern Park before taking on London. Source: ©INPHOGerry McManus

Sligo provide the opposition on Sunday with a last four spot against Roscommon up for grabs for the victors. 

“I know it sounds a cliche but we know ourselves that we’ve been caught before when Kevin was over Sligo a few years ago. He caught us in Pearse Stadium. 

“And when we were under Joe Kernan we were beat by them again down in Markievicz Park after a replay. So we know what they’ll bring to the table regardless of League form.

“You saw the results this weekend, the amount of underdogs that came out on top or at least ran teams very, very close. We’ve been forewarned and we know what’s coming so we need to be at the top of our game. 

“They’ll be gunning for us at the weekend and rightly so. 

“We need to be ready. We’ve trained well up to this point, we have players coming back and competition will be good for places, so hopefully all will go well.” 

Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne look at Ireland’s past in Super Rugby, the creative shift needed in Irish rugby and Peter O’Mahony tells us about his love of gardening..:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Kevin O'Brien

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