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Mícheál Donoghue relishing Galway adventure

Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue pictured at a press briefing at the Loughrea Hotel & Spa ahead of the All Ireland SHC Final.

Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue pictured at a press briefing at the Loughrea Hotel & Spa ahead of the All Ireland SHC Final.

By Cian O'Connell

When Mícheál Donoghue was appointed Galway manager deep into the winter of 2015 the importance of creating a culture carried huge relevance.

That is what the Clarinbridge native wanted to establish and in his three years Galway have competed at the highest level.

Losing a thrilling 2016 All Ireland semi-final to Tipperary hurt, but Galway responded by hoisting Liam MacCarthy 11 months ago, and they contest another deicder against Limerick this Sunday.

Donoghue acknowledges that attaining and maintaining high standards was the mission Galway’s backroom team wanted to accomplish. "I think so,” Donoghue admits.

“It was one of the big rocks for us when we took the job that we wanted to be competing at the highest level as much as we could. It was paramount that we got massive connectivity and structures between the team.

“We had that strong relationship with Tony Ward with the Under 21s, and even going down to the Under 17s with Jeff Lynskey. We are all on the same page and we are working towards the same thing.

“From ourselves with the Under 21s there is big connections there, obviously Franny Forde is with them and Lukasz Kirszenstein overseas some of the S&C with Brendan.

“We had Cyril Donnellan involved and Fergal Healy. Two prominent players. Cyril was obviously involved in our own set-up. He knows what goes on in the senior set-up and relays that. That’s a good foundation to start with.”

With the experience gleaned by a talented crop of players during the past decade is it easier to manage the hype now? "I have alluded to it many times, the lads are well experienced,” Donoghue states. “They have massive massive experience.

“In the overall circle for Galway GAA we are having a great summer with both codes. The minors are going well in both codes. The Under 21s were going well. We just seem to be rolling from week to week which is great.”

Claiming a first All Ireland title since 1988 in 2017 brought particular joy in the west according to Donoghue. “Yeah, look, obviously it’s been well documented,” Donoghue remarks.

Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue before the Leinster SHC Final replay at Semple Stadium.

Galway manager Mícheál Donoghue before the Leinster SHC Final replay at Semple Stadium.

“It had been such a long way, we were all blown away by it, but once we got back it was parked and we just moved on, kept going.”

One moment captured the delight when Donoghue embraced his father Miko. “I think, yeah, obviously, look, the whole way it presented itself,” Donoghue recalls.

“The biggest thing for it was no matter where I went, obviously by winning it we were very fortunate to go to different parts of the world, and no matter where you went people recognised it and acknowledged it.

“It just embodied what the GAA is all about and the family and the club and stuff. It is something that I can treasure, but it obviously meant a lot to other people as well.”

How much of a challenge was it to get Galway refocused for the current campaign? “I think for us maybe with the new structure and everything starting earlier, and with the way the year finished for us and the break and so on, getting back into it probably took us a bit longer,” Donoghue says.

“But I think once we were open with the group and everybody really knew where we were, we put a timescale on this is where we had to be at this particular time. We just used the League to get through it again and it’s funny given it’s two Division 1B teams in the final. 

“We just used the League to get back in, but once we hit the Championship I thought we hit the stride well. I keep giving all the praise to the players, they are highly motivated and they want to be as successful as they can. When they are that driven it’s easy for us.”

Having witnessed Limerick stage a daring recovery mission to secure promotion at Pearse Stadium in March Donoghue isn’t surprised by how they have continued to develop under John Kiely’s shrewd guidance.

“I think they have had a massive year, huge momentum, John has done a massive job with them,” Donoghue comments.

“We got to see first-hand how impressive they were in the League and they’ve carried that right into the Championship. They’ve had some massive results. I think when you get here the two best teams always end up there.

“They are going to be formidable for us. We have the height of respect for them, I know it’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s back to the old cliché with myself, it’s just on ourselves and our own performance, that’s all we can focus on now.”