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By Cian O’Connell
 
Padraic Mannion initially missed the roar and hum from the Croke Park crowd, but once the Leinster SHC semi-final got under way it was business as usual.

That splendid success over Wexford illustrated Mannion’s versatility and value to the Galway cause, but the Ahascragh-Fohenagh clubman delivered another effective display.

Shane O’Neill’s first match in charge of Galway culminated in a fine victory to set up an intriguing provincial decider against Kilkenny at GAA headquarters on Saturday evening.

Mannion acknowledges that it took a little time to adjust at the Jones Road venue. “I think when we ran out onto the pitch and maybe a little bit in the warm-up, it was a bit different alright,” Mannion says.

“You are just used to having the noise in the background but once the game is thrown-in it, it was fine and like any other game really.”

In the centrefield exchanges Mannion excelled, but he stressed the importance of always remaining vigilant when Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford are involved.

“It’s like any game you play against Wexford, it’s very tough and they just challenge you in so many different ways that you just have to be really sharp and really on it,” Mannion responds.

“I think early on, even myself, I was a little bit off it early on and we nearly got caught for a goal. Thankfully we grew into the game and got on top eventually.

“When you play a team like Wexford there’s a certain element of focusing on yourself, but if they have runners from deep forwards have to track. So it’s very different.

 

Padraic Mannion is captaining the Galway senior hurlers in 2020.
Padraic Mannion is captaining the Galway senior hurlers in 2020.

 

“You can have whatever system you want, but you still have to be able to counteract their system. I think that was a lot of it, we were just tracking them a lot and you could end up anywhere really.

“That’s the kind of game it was. We saw a few of our half forwards back, just had to track their men back deep at times, but that’s just the way the game was.”

A familiar foe now awaits at the weekend with the black and amber striped team from Kilkenny bringing the next challenge.

“Different in some ways, but very similar in some ways too,” Mannion remarks about the Kilkenny task compared to the previous outing with Wexford.

“Obviously the fact that they don’t play the he sweeper, they’d be known for playing a more orthodox 15 on 15 as they call it. They’re still an unbelievable team and you never, never have an easy game against them. So I’m sure it’s not going to be any different.”

Galway’s early Championship exit in 2019 and the pandemic this year ensured there was a real sense of relief to return to high stakes action.

“The first game I found myself probably a bit more nervous than I would have been before just because it’s been so long and I had an injury or two myself, so I hadn’t an awful lot done,” Mannion states. “You’d be a bit anxious alright but once you get out it’s great to be out there and you enjoy it.”

The loss to Dublin hurt Galway to the core highlighting the narrow margins of Championship hurling. “We didn’t speak about it as a group,” Mannion remarks. “Maybe individually, for lads it’s might have been at the back of their minds.

“That seems so long ago now. Even the League earlier on seems like a different season altogether now. A long break but with all the club games we feel like we’ve a lot of hurling done in some ways. It was great to get back into the Championship mode again.”

By Cian O'Connell

Galway manager Padraic Joyce isn't overly concerned about the fact that his team haven't played a Championship game ahead of Sunday's Connacht decider against Mayo at Pearse Stadium.

Since the Allianz Football League concluded Mayo have enjoyed two wins over Leitrim and Roscommon, while Galway were afforded a walkover due to a number of Covid cases in the Sligo camp.

Joyce doesn't feel Galway are at a major disadvantage. "Not really, it is what it is at this stage," Joyce says.

"If we were playing a normal Championship, we’d have a two or three week break between games anyway and the last two games we had were very competitive for us.

"So we are either going to be tired or fresh. If we win the game on Sunday, you are a fresher team and if you lose it you didn’t get to do the preparation, so there’s always going to be an excuse.

"They've got plenty of games so I wouldn’t say that’s an advantage or disadvantage; it’s all on the day."

The Killererin clubman discussed the situation with Sligo boss Paul Taylor.

“It’s out of our control, unfortunately there was nothing we could do about it," Joyce remarks about the Sligo game being postponed.

"We were ready to play the match, and it’s unfortunate what happened to them.

"I spoke to Paul Taylor and understand the reasons why he couldn’t field a team, so it was tough for them unfortunately.

"Unfortunately there was nothing we could do about it, we were available to play and the game would have benefited definitely, but it didn’t happen so we just get on with it."

By Cian O'Connell

Galway manager Shane O'Neill is hopeful Fintan Burke will be available for the upcoming Leinster SHC Final at Croke Park against Kilkenny on November 14.

Burke suffered a shoulder injury in the closing stages of last weekend's win over Wexford at GAA headquarters.

O'Neill admitted the problem isn't as bad as initially feared. "We don’t think so, no," O'Neill remarked. "So hopefully he will be okay."

Daithi Burke is continuing his comeback and hasn't been ruled out either.

"We don’t know yet, he is still in his rehab so we’re just going to see how it goes over the next week really," O'Neill commented.

"We’ve got a couple of lads coming back now, so we won’t know - we’ve only had the session on Tuesday afterwards, which was light enough.

 

Galway senior hurling manager Shane O'Neill.
Galway senior hurling manager Shane O'Neill.

 "We’ll probably have a better indication at the weekend or next Tuesday as to exactly where we’re at."

Having steered his home Limerick's Na Piarsaigh to All Ireland glory, O'Neill believes the benefits of a split season are significant.

"It was nearly a 15-month season for us with the club, which was very difficult at that particular time," O'Neill says.

"I think it’s probably the way to go.

"You could see the energy in the clubs - the fact that they had all the county boys with them.

"I think it’s probably looking like the best system at the moment. The fact they had the forced dry run as well shows that it was a success. So I would think that it’s probably the way to go, yeah."

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