Kevin Walsh: 'I think the panel is stronger'
By Cian O'Connell
These are encouraging times for Galway with a Connacht Championship and Allianz League Division Two title pocketed during the past year.
Galway are anxious to make an impact again out west again in 2017 with manager Kevin Walsh acknowledging that the depth of the panel has improved.
"The panel I think is definitely stronger, but I wouldn’t say it is just this year, its going back to our first FBD game going back three years ago.
"It’s how you use the competitions and we would have always found the FBD a worth while competition, not necessarily to win it, but to give people a try out to see where they’re at.
"We feel we got players through that and one or two through the underage so the panel, I think, is stronger."
Is winning sufficient to attract budding footballers, who want to wear the maroon and white jersey? "No, I don’t think it’s as simple as that," Walsh says. "I think the culture and the environment that is being set is awfully important.
"We’ve always said that the type of personal development, rather than just football development, if that is being done and can be seen to be done, and if you surround yourself with people who believe in that, you’ll probably get better buy-in.
"Obviously if you see results coming in or getting closer, people can see opportunities and it probably helps."
The return of Sean Armstrong and Michael Meehan has bolstered Galway's attacking options considerably. "They are two lads on the road for quite a while," Walsh states. "I would have sat down and spoken with them and they showed an interest to come in.
"It wasn’t guaranteed that they would stay in; they knew that at the start. They had to be performing to a certain level that everyone else was at. Thanks be to God they’re doing that.
"I’m sure there are unanswered questions in their heads, targets to see what was in them and in fairness to them they’re enjoying it and they are working hard."
Walsh is encouraged by how Meehan, who has been troubled by a severe ankle injury, is faring. "It’s a good bit better for him, but we still look after the person," Walsh remarks.
"Whatever recovery is required we’ll find something that will keep their aerobic fitness up. Whatever is required we’ll do that and we’ll deal with each individual on a case-by-case basis. Up to now, that’s working fine."
Galway ended a 16 year search for a competitive win at Croke Park when defeating Kildare, but Walsh wasn't overly concerned about that or the silverware attained.
"Yeah, but as I said before that was a media jinx more than anything else. But there’s no harm to have it gone.
"The boost? I always said finishing off the League strong was important regardless of where you finished in the League so it is nice to have won the last number of games anyway, but having got to a Final and pulled it off was a plus, but getting promoted was the main one." Reaching Division One was another encouraging sign for Galway, who want to deliver in the summer now.