Francis Forde: 'In the GAA there's been a change in mindset this year'
By Cian O'Connell
For Galway's highly regarded selector Francis Forde all that truly matters is the present.
Past glories will count for little according to Forde when referee James Owens flings in the sliotar at 3.30pm at Croke Park on Sunday. The hectic nature of this year's fabulous and frenetic Championship means valuable lessons have been learned.
Has it been difficult for management teams to cope? "It has been a challenge, but you have to lay the foundations for that earlier on in the year, in terms of your own mindset," Forde says.
"I know other managers have spoken about this as well, and I mentioned it earlier, but as soon as a game is over, yes, you'll do the analysis on it, but you've got to park it pretty quickly and that's kind of been the process we've followed all year.
"Replays obviously meant more games for us, but at the end of the day we're going out into a game and really everything that has gone before goes out the window, and we'll take our learnings from both Clare games, we'll try to improve on a few things and do our analysis on Limerick.
"It's an ongoing process, but I think the point I'd make is that everything that has gone before counts for nothing when you're looking to win the All-Ireland."
A new page will be opened at the weekend, but Forde takes pride and satisfaction from how Galway have coped during a campaign featuring two dramatic Semple Stadium replays against Kilkenny and Clare.
"Certainly for any team, no matter what they've been through previously, if you come through extra-time and you come through a replay on the right side by a point, spirit is massive," Forde admits.
"You can talk about tactics all you want, but if your spirit isn't there or isn't right, all the tactics in the world aren't going to compensate for that.
"And the more battles you come through as a group, the more that spirit and that bond within the group gets that little bit stronger.
"Really from that point of view, no concerns. For me, the positives of having come through those outweigh anything else.
"Okay, this year we've had a lot more games, but everyone has had more games than previous years.
"But if you compare that with other sports, where they have a season where they might play 30-40 games, or if you take a really attritional sport like rugby - and I know they're professional - but they go through the mill every week and come out and prepare for the following week."
What has struck Forde, though, is how players and panels are adequately coping with the different mental and physical challenges.
"In the GAA there's been a change in mindset this year," Forde acknowledges. "I think our lads have been really mature in their approach to that.
"I know they just did everything in their power to make sure that their bodies were in the best possible shape for a replay, and they'll do the same for the final. I've no concerns in that regard, really."