Comer dreams of emulating childhood heroes
By John Harrington
Damien Comer dreams of emulating Galway’s All-Ireland Football Final winning heroes of 1998 and 2001.
Comer’s childhood memories of those All-Ireland wins remain vivid, and the Galway captain sees no reason why he and his team-mates shouldn’t aspire to also win the Sam Maguire Cup.
“They were fond memories, I remember the homecomings and everything,” Comer told GAA.ie.
“It was great craic going down to Killererin for the homecomings and being out at the head of the road lighting bonfires.
“Coming into the Galway set-up when I was only 19 or 20, you always envisage that you want to take it back to those days and that's the aim.
“Now we're consistently progressing towards that and who knows at the end of the year it could be another year like that, all going well.
“It's going to take a huge effort from our lads and it's going to be a massive step towards that but we've got to take it game by game and we've Mayo now first and all eyes are going to be on that.
“We'll see how that goes and rebuild from there, wherever it takes us.”
Galway supporters are also dreaming that 2018 could be a red-letter year for the county’s footballers.
There's definitely a buzz in the county
Their team’s run to this year’s League Final and the manner in which they pushed Dublin all the way in it has reenergised the county’s football tribe.
“Yeah definitely,” said Comer. There's definitely a buzz in the county that hasn't been there.
“Galway football was low enough there for a while with poor performances and getting beat by teams they wouldn't have been losing to in other years.
“It's nice that it's got up to where it should be. Even when you're walking down the street there's people saying, 'It's great to see that Galway are competing again.'
“Even people from other counties are saying, 'It's great to see a Galway team there or thereabouts because Galway were always known for their football.'
“So it's all good and it's credit to management and the bunch of players that have been there that they've revived the Galway spirit and got Galway back to where they need to be.”
Mayo would love nothing more than to burst Galway’s bubble when the teams meet in MacHale Park on May 13.
The rivalry between the two counties has always been a keen one, but it’s rarely been hotter than it is now.
Recent clashes have been fiery affairs, and Mayo will be desperate to arrest a sequence of results that has seen them lose to Galway in the last four matches they’ve played.
“Ah, yeah, look, there's no love between Galway and Mayo,” admits Comer. “The often turn out to be really good games. It's going to be a big one for both teams.
“A lot of people are talking about Mayo being on a downward slope or whatever, but I think you would be crazy to believe that.
“Mayo have often proved if you write them off that's when they come stronger. We know it's going to be a tough battle, especially down in their home pitch.
“We'll go down there with every ambition and hope we can get a result.”
You can be sure that Comer will be leading the Galway charge on May 13 against Mayo.
The explosive full-forward was outstanding throughout their League campaign and seems to be relishing the responsibility of being made team captain this year.
“Yeah, I suppose the main thing that's helping me is staying injury-free,” said Comer.
“If you can stay injury-free you're getting a run of good form and not being disrupted by injuries is a key element of it.
“It's going to be very important to keep the body right because as you go onto the Super 8s (All-Ireland Quarter-Final series) this year, hopefully we get there, and anyone who gets there is going to need nearly two teams.
“The fact that you're going to be playing so many games means your panel is going to be coming into it and trying to keep people fresh and keep them out of the physio room is going to be a big part of it.
“I’m looking forward to it, I think the captain role has suited me. It's nearly aided my performances in my games.
“Every day I go out I'm trying to lead by example and hope then that the lads will then obviously follow suit if they see different leaders stepping up around the pitch, it makes them easier for them.
“Hopefully we can continue the form going through the summer.”