Burke: 'We think we’re good enough to get back there again'
By Cian O'Connell
Between 2005 and 2012 Galway didn’t get beyond an All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final. Essentially it is one of the reasons why last month’s win over Clare carried such relevance.
To reach a second successive semi-final is a sign of Galway’s progress according to captain David Burke. “The panel will have taken huge confidence from the Clare win because a couple of years before I came on the panel we were getting knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Kilkenny and Waterford and Clare. So to get two quarter-final wins back to back in Thurles was huge.
"You can see it was a massive weight off lads’ shoulders, and they’ve enjoyed it.
"It wasn’t going to be pretty, I was saying that coming up to it because of the way they set up, so we had to change a few things as well. The goal in the first half and the goal coming after half-time were massive - that was the difference, getting goals and stopping them from scoring them.”
Since Galway last won an All Ireland title in 1988 they have encountered bother in the year after appearances in deciders. That was the case following the Championship summers of 1990, 1993, 2001, 2005, and 2012.
"It’s a thing that the whole county would be talking about, it’s a matter of whether you let it seep into the squad or not is another thing.
“We think we’re good enough to get back there again, it’s just general talk - ‘they might get there, they might not, we were there last year and had the bit of craic’. But we firmly believe we’re good enough to be there again and if we get a good 70 minutes against Tipp we feel we should be there or thereabouts.
“You’d hear it from lads, from your own family maybe, but we’re there to win, we’re not there to make up the numbers. It’s something you have to change - everybody would have to change that in your own club, then you can change it in the county.
“We have the hurlers coming through - Adrian Tuohy came in the last day and had a great game, and there’s always plenty more coming through. We’re in the minor All-Ireland semi-final again. If we can get over Tipp we should have a good crack at the final.”
During the past five seasons since 2012 Burke is adamant that Galway have developed significantly by becoming more consistent. “That’s the big thing we’ve been trying to drive since Anthony (Cunningham) was there, and now with Micheal (Donoghue) coming in, and I think we have, a small bit, even though we lost games in the league and lost to Kilkenny.
“Games may not have gone our way and lads may have questioned the consistency, but there have been good performances there as well, even last year we beat teams we hadn’t been beating. The only team we haven’t beaten in the Championship since I’ve come in has been Waterford, and the lads have taken a lot of confidence.
“It’s going to come down to the day against Tipp, whoever wants it more or works harder for the ball, if it comes down to turnovers. Against Clare that was the main thing we focused on, pushing up on their puck-outs and defending from the front eight, getting turnovers there.
“It’ll be a simple game against Tipp, if we can do that on their backs - they set up a huge platform from their half-back line, the two Mahers, if we can stop them from delivering good quality ball to the inside line - you’d see their half-backs and midfield as the dangermen really, because that’s where you need to stop it, at the source.”
A year ago Galway debutant Shane Moloney struck a last gasp point as the Tribesmen shaded an epic encounter with Tipp. Does the fact that Galway have beaten Tipp in such a thrilling clash carry importance? “It does, just to get over the line,” is Burke’s assessment.
“You could go 50, 60 minutes and there’s nothing it it, and it comes down then to the last 10 minutes, who’s fitter, smarter on the ball, and that’s what it came down to last year - you couldn’t say we were better than Tipp for the whole 70 minutes.
“It came down to who wanted it more in that last five minutes, and it could be the same again on Sunday. It could come down to a battle of wits, who can control the ball that bit better at the end.
“There could be only a point or two in it at the end, but hopefully we’ll get a lead together in the first half. Last year they hit us with a couple of sucker punches so if we can prevent that happening it should be a bit easier.”