THERE HAVE BEEN very few disappointments for Galway on the playing field this year, but their only loss against Wexford in the national league was the making of them, according to Micheál Donoghue.
A season that started so brightly as they devoured all in front of them in January and February looked to have come to a shuddering halt when Davy Fitzgerald’s side ended their promotion hopes with victory in Pearse Stadium.
With one team going up from Division 1B, all Wexford had to do was win out their remaining games, but Galway’s prize was the realisation that they had what it takes to be better.
A meeting of the squad’s leaders the following night saw them thrash out what had gone wrong, and according to the former Clarinbridge manager, it was that loss that focused their ambitions.
“At the beginning of the league, the main priority was to try and get back up to 1A. 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 as possible,” said Donoghue.
“Yes, there was disappointment. I remember we met the leadership group on the Monday night after the (Wexford) league game. They took huge onus and responsibility. We discussed the manner in which we lost the game.
I think 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, for me was (key). We sat down, had a chat and the players knew exactly what we wanted after that game.
“Wexford deserved to win that match because they stuck to what they were doing. We were in a good position, a winning position. We didn’t stick to what we were supposed to do. That was a huge learning for us.”
Since that shuddering loss, Galway have not spared the whip on any of their opponents, and the 28-413 they have hit in their 17 games all year indicates a team with in-form forwards at their disposal.
They needed another sleepy 35 minutes to get past Waterford in the league quarter-final, but since then they have beaten Limerick, Tipperary (twice), Dublin, Offaly and Wexford by a cumulative winning margin of 72 points.
Waterford boss Derek McGrath and Donoghue have become sounding boards for each other in the last year or so, thus overcoming the Deise in that league tie gave him a bit of satisfaction.
“The way it transpired and the fact we were down by so much. You can talk about the result, but when you look at the team Derek had out at the start. He was content at that stage with where he was at.
“Obviously, it gave us huge confidence and momentum. Why wouldn’t it, to come back from what we were down? It did give us a lot of confidence.
“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. We are playing a team with huge experience. Derek has done a great job with them. No more than ourselves, they are where they want to be. We know they are going to be formidable.
“We (Donoghue and McGrath) are of the same vintage. I think he is doing a massive job down there. Obviously, he has more experience at this level than I have. Because we are of the same vintage, we made contact last year.
“Not that we’d contact each other regularly, but different periods over the year, we hopped things off each other. He is someone I have huge respect for, the way he carries himself, the relationship he has with his own players is something we can all learn from.
“He is real passionate. The biggest thing I find is that if you ring them, you can have a chat with him and hop things off him. He’s been good for me.”
Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud
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