Aidan Harte enjoying Championship journey
By Cian O'Connell
June 15, 2019 seems like an awfully long time ago now, but Aidan Harte acknowledges that significant lessons were learned.
At a passionate Parnell Park, Dublin defeated Galway, 165 kilometres away in Innovate Wexford Park the locals and Kilkenny divided the Leinster Championship spoils.
When the maths were completed the only statistic that mattered was Galway were out of the reckoning for Liam MacCarthy. That is why Galway's return to the national stage for Sunday's eagerly anticipated All Ireland semi-final against Limerick matters deeply.
"I suppose maybe it was a little bit of an eye opener," Harte says in his hometown of Gort on a chilly November evening.
"It can happen to teams who have this thing where you have expectation, where you expect to get to semi-finals when you are doing it year on year.
"It makes you realise that you have to bring your A game every single day. That certainly happened last year, but Dublin were full value for their win.
"We drew with Wexford inside the Stadium, we were probably lucky on the day. That is where it was at really, but it is great to get back into an All Ireland series again. It is important as it is for every team."
What also counts is the fact that the Championship is unfolding in these uncertain times. The weekend's action brings excitement, drama, hope, and some value.
"Absolutely, you can see it when you come home and get the phonecalls and messages after games," Harte admits.
"When you are out on the field and there is no crowd you kind of feel like there is nobody watching the game, but it’s afterwards that you realise everyone is watching.
"It’s very important for people. Saturday was a great day of sport and Sunday as well, even though there was two football games. Here in south Galway that might not be top of the pops, but they were unbelievable games, the Tipperary win and Cavan wins were just fantastic and would inspire you when watching at home."
A post primary school teacher, Harte has mixed work and sport nicely in recent months.
"When you have the good days it is very easy to go into the classroom of 30 kids on a Monday morning, but when you have bad days it’s not so easy - you have a lot to listen to," Harte laughs.
"It’s difficult in terms of time and the weather you are out in but there are a lot of people worse off and we are definitely in a privileged position that we get to play and even more so for myself and a few of the guys getting a small bit older, you cherish the months and few weeks that you may or may not have left, so it’s great.
"We are used to hurling in the summer and when you do have a bad game on a Sunday, you have all week to think about it because you are not working.
"Going in now of a Monday morning and having nine classes, you don’t get to think at all - if you stop for a second to dwell they would walk all over you, so it’s great that way."
Two years ago Limerick defeated Galway in the All Ireland decider, but Harte believes no relevance is attached to that game entering this weekend's contest.
"Personally I don't think so," Harte replies. "I was asked the last day is it a shot at redemption. Absolutely not.
"I wouldn't be looking on it that way at all. 2018 was Limerick's game, nothing will ever change that. It is an All Ireland semi-final.
"If you need motivation from a previous loss to get you going you are in real trouble. So no I don't think it has any bearing on what happens on Sunday."