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Paddy Tally
Paddy Tally

Tally's fingerprints 'all over' Galway footballers


By John Harrington

Sean Cavanagh believes his former Tyrone All-Ireland winning coach, Paddy Tally, deserves a lot of the credit for Galway’s impressive form so far this year.

Tally, who has also previously coached Derry, Down and the St. Mary’s University Sigerson Cup team, joined Kevin Walsh’s management team at the start of the season.

Since then the Tribesmen have reached the Division 1 League Final and have gotten their Championship campaign off to the perfect start by beating great rivals Mayo in the Connacht SFC Quarter-Final.

And Cavanagh sees Tally’s fingerprints all over the disciplined tactical approach that has made Galway such a difficult team to beat in recent months.

“All over it, yeah, completely - and for the good,” said Cavanagh.

“Paddy did an amazing job with us in Tyrone when he was there. It didn't work out with him and Mickey, obviously, they went their separate ways. I think that was a loss for Tyrone. I know we ended up winning another two All-Irelands but I think it was a loss.

“He's been away doing his stuff with St. Mary's and has been in and out of a few different counties but I know the St. Mary's guys absolutely loved him the last few years. He managed to get them the Sigerson.

“I could see the organisation, the buy-in of the players. The players love Paddy, he's very clear in what he's trying to do. His instructions are very militarian. That's sometimes what players and teams need.

“Everyone has this beautiful idea where football has to be thrown back to the 90s where it'll be 15 v 15 and it'll be shootouts every day. It's just not the way football is played nowadays, unfortunately, I would love to see that as much as anyone.”

Sean Cavanagh is pictured at the launch of Electric Ireland’s ‘This is Major’ campaign to support its sponsorship of the GAA Minor Championships.
Sean Cavanagh is pictured at the launch of Electric Ireland’s ‘This is Major’ campaign to support its sponsorship of the GAA Minor Championships.

The common perception is that Tally has helped make Galway a more difficult team to break down, but Cavanagh insists he brings a lot more to the table than defensive nous.

“Paddy was always a great thinker,” said Cavanagh. “People who don't understand will label him as a defensive coach - Paddy's an attacker. Paddy spends as much time trying to think through attacking movement as he does setting up defensive shapes.

“It's easy to throw stones and abuse these defensive shapes but they're defensive shapes that work. If you're keeping a Mayo in Castlebar to ten points or whatever it was, that's a good day at the office.

“It's all about winning matches. The players are training so hard from last October and especially in Galway over the last number of years where there's that perception that they've been naive and open at the back.

“Kevin Walsh brought in someone who will ensure they're not open at the back. It will also ensure they have that drive and energy going forward. That's what they have in abundance at the moment: players with serious pace and power.

“It's one thing defending but it's another making sure you get up and on the end of moves. They have that at the moment. I'm sure they'll be able to tweak it against different opposition.”

Galway pushed Dublin hard in the League Final but in the final reckoning fell short of pulling off a shock.

Cavanagh believes that if they are to become a team good enough to knock Dublin off their pedestal they’ll have to marry their defensive durability with more punch in attack.

“I think they will have to change it,” he said. “Last year told everyone that when you play against Dublin, you can't just do one thing. There are times when they will have to go with different offensive formations.

“Now they're over the big one - they have a game where most people expect them to win their semi-final and play Roscommon.

“I think they should look at tweaks and being able to switch and adapt within games because that's what Dublin do - at times they flood players back but at other times they'll flood players forward and you have to be able to switch between the two of them.

“No better man to do that than Paddy, I'm sure.” 

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