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'We would have preferred a better league campaign': Galway still searching for their best form

Centre-back Gearoid McInerney says the Tribesmen are ready to step things up as the Leinster campaign begins.

OF ALL THE All-Ireland hurling contenders, Galway’s form so far in 2018 has been the hardest to read.

Gearoid McInerney Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

12 months ago, they blitzed their way through the spring campaign, thumping Tipperary by 16 points in the final, before claiming provincial and Liam MacCarthy honours in the summer.

Of course, any county that ends a long All-Ireland famine can take a while to raise a gallop the following season. That’s certainly been the case with the Tribesmen.

Galway only returned from their team holiday to New York and Cancun in the first week of January and opened up the season with wins over Antrim, Laois, Offaly and Dublin.

So far so good. Then came the real test, in the form of a Division 1B promotion decider at home to Limerick, which they lost by two. The defeat sent Galway on a collision course with Wexford in the league quarter-final, with Davy Fitzgerald’s side prevailing by three.

Davy Fitzgerald and Michael Donoghue Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

How much Galway wanted to win that game can be debated, given Michael Donoghue’s curious tactic of employing David Burke – an All-Star midfielder for the past three seasons – at full-forward for the entire game.

It’s understandable that Donoghue may have been looking to keep his powder dry with a heavy schedule of four championship games in five weeks coming down the line. But centre-back Gearoid McInerney dismissed the notion that Galway didn’t take the league seriously.

“Our main focus at the time would have been to try go out and do the best we could in the league,” he said at the Leinster SHC launch.

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“That didn’t really go our way so we just had to get over that, because championship is just around the corner. We’re concentrating on that now. We would have preferred a better league campaign but we have to move on from it.

Tom Morrissey and Gearoid McInerney Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s vital to be blooding new players the whole time. I suppose especially this year with the new format, you’ll need new players and you never know when you’ll need fresh legs. Panels are going to be massive this year.”

McInerney is coming off the back of his finest season, when he picked up his first All-Star. Rather than standing still, the 27-year-old is determined to bring his performances onto another level this summer.

“You’ve just got to look at yourself and areas you need to improve on. There’s plenty of them for everyone so you just have to be brutally honest with yourself and keep working away.

“Every day you go out and play a match you can easily take one or two things you did bad and one or two things you did good, and you just have to keep working on them. Even things you think you’re brilliant at could always do with a bit of tweaking.

“Especially the way the games are going now, not everyone will be playing you to your strengths so you need to be better at them other things.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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