Paul Conroy remains a key figure for Galway
By Cian O’Connell
A decade and a half on the inter-county beat with Galway, Paul Conroy is still simply enjoying the game.
Since 2008 Conroy, a proud St James’ clubman, has been a constant on the maroon and white team, remaining hugely relevant for Pádraic Joyce’s outfit.
Another attractive Allianz Football League encounter beckons against Kerry at Pearse Stadium on Sunday with Conroy encouraged by the manner in which Galway eked out a win over Armagh last weekend.
“Before the game the last day there was a small bit of pressure on us in the sense that I don't think we were still safe,” Conroy says.
“So it was great to get the win up there, it is not easy to go anywhere away from home and to get two points. We were delighted with.”
The fact that so many emerging players in the Galway panel have impressed during the past couple of months is significant too according to Conroy.
“It is a good thing, it can be daunting enough for lads getting debuts in Division One,” Conroy responds.
“If they are able for that and come through it okay, that is a really positive sign. It was great to see over the last couple of games the so called newer and younger lads getting games.
"In fairness to them they are doing fine and they are driving things on which is great for the group.”
An experienced campaigner with Galway, Conroy relishes representing the county. “Unfortunately I'm the oldest member of the panel at the minute and I think it will be staying that way somehow,” he laughs. “I'm just enjoying the football.
“I was probably a small bit later coming back for this year after a longer club campaign - unfortunately it was the relegation we were in. It was nice to get a bit of a break and then come back, I've been enjoying it. Hopefully I can keep going and try to stay injury free.”
Reaching the 2022 All-Ireland SFC Final illustrated Galway’s potential. Being relevant on the national stage again matters deeply, but having a full schedule of matches once more is vital.
“The last couple of years have been up and down in terms of Covid and that, but in the last 18 months things have been very positive for us,” Conroy says.
“It was great getting promoted last year and getting to the All-Ireland final, in the grand scheme of things, when you look back on the year, it was positive. Obviously at the time it was very disappointing, but it is important we keep driving it on.
“There will be a lot of teams who didn't get as far as we did last year who will think that they are well able to get to our level. So it is important that we mind our own camp, that we keep getting better ourselves, and see where that takes us.”
Being ready for the stern challenges in the Connacht and All-Ireland Championship is critical. “Teams that mightn't have reached the semi-final or the quarter-final will be looking at the likes of us, thinking they can do that if they get their act together,” Conroy adds.
“It is really important that we keep minding ourselves, keep building our panel, to see where that brings us during the year. It is all good so far.”
Conroy is still providing plenty of inspiration.