Padraic Joyce enjoying Galway Under 20 managerial role
By Cian O'Connell
Padraic Joyce's managerial career is underway. Four wins on the spin were registered in the inaugural John Kerins Cup ensuring Galway enter the EirGrid All Ireland Under 20 Championship armed with equal measures of hope and expectation.
Joyce, such a key figure during a splendid Galway era when Sam Maguire was hoisted in 1998 and 2001, has assembled a formidable backroom team to assist with the development of an exciting crop of talent in the west.
"Yeah, it is interesting enough," Joyce says about those involved with the current maroon and white Under 20 outfit. "You have John Divilly involved, Mick Culhane, Liam Sammon, and John Concannon. They all have experience playing or managing. As well it is a group that would challenge you, if I'm doing something wrong they have no problem saying it is wrong, that is good in a way."
That guidance is particularly helpful to the proud Killererin clubman. "It is, it is my first decent or real job in management," Joyce states. "I'm enjoying it, the training and being part of it is great.
"Other aspects you don't enjoy - trying to deal with County Boards, and that type of stuff, the logistics. When you are a player you just have to play, when you are managing you have to think about the Football Board and that stuff, how they get their revenue in and that stuff. What kind of budget goes towards your team with gear and food wise. It is definitely a learning experience, no doubt."
Compared to his own teenage years Joyce acknowledges the landscape of football in Galway has altered dramatically. "It has changed, it has more moved over to the west of the county and the city," Joyce remarks. "Even the Claregalway club - we have four or five from that club and they wouldn't have been a really strong club over the years.
"It is just the population has gone up in Claregalway, a lot of people are living in Claregalway because it is an easy commute to Galway. Then you have rural clubs like our own are dying out a bit and they are starting to merge in underage.
"Our own club has merged with Kilkerrin-Clonberne for Under 17 and Under 20 grade. You are finding that, the balance of players is shifting towards the city."
Joyce stresses the importance of merging in order to afford emerging footballers opportunities. "At least they can then play at some decent standard," Joyce adds. "I know our own club last year at Under 20 wouldn't have been able to field a team. Then you'd have five or six fellas who wouldn't get a game only for merging."
A spectator at Pearse Stadium last Sunday Joyce admits it was a painful loss for Galway against Roscommon in the Connacht Final. "It was disappointing for Galway, yeah," Joyce comments. "Disappointing weekend overall as a Galway supporter with the two of them losing. In fairness, the poor hurlers are on the go a long, long time so they're probably tired.
"But the footballers were poor. They seemed to have the game won at half-time and just didn't perform in the second-half at all. They seemed to let it go away. Just after half-time, as manager you'd be telling a team if I was five points up to go six points, seven points up and kill the game. We conceded 1-1 straight away and the lead was wiped out in six minutes.
"We didn't push on then. I wouldn't mind we had the breeze as well. It's hard to put your finger on it. Sometimes if the tide turns against you it's very hard to turn it around, but we still had enough players to stand up, take account of it and manufacture a few scores or frees to steady the tide."
What does Joyce feel about the criticism of Kevin Walsh's approach? "He's probably just getting it because traditionally Galway would have been a free-flowing county," Joyce replies.
"We've lost shoot-outs over the years and we got criticised for that as well. When you lose, the manager is always to blame. No matter what, they'll always blame the manager, but I think it's unfair a lot of the criticism he gets.
"He was a brilliant footballer himself for Galway and a great ambassador for Galway. At the end of the day, okay he can set-up tactically whatever way he wants but the players are on the pitch.
"There are senior players that are there a lot of years, you can't be spoon-feeding them all the time what to be doing. They should know themselves how to play and where to go at certain times."
Does Joyce have ambitions to manage at the highest level at some stage in the future? "I would have had over the years, but when I got involved in this U20 it's just suiting me find time-wise because I'm busy with my own work.
"The senior job, I know from talking to Kevin it seems to be like a full-time job. It's seven days a week, you're analysing and I know it takes its toll. At the minute I definitely wouldn't have the time to put into that now."