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Former Galway hurler Conor Hayes in attendance at the GAA Museum where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Former Galway hurler Conor Hayes in attendance at the GAA Museum where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Galway hurling legend Hayes calls for continuity


By John Harrington

Galway hurling legend, Conor Hayes, believes the next county hurling team manager should be a member of previous manager Micheal Donoghue’s backroom team.

Noel Larkin and Francis Forde served as selectors under Donoghue and are very highly respected coaches.

And Hayes reckons if Galway are to win an All-Ireland Final next year then the continuity that Larkin or Forde or a combination of both would bring to the job would give them their best chance.

“It's important they get a good manager in and keep the thing going,” said Hayes.

“It's a pity Micheal Donoghue is gone because he was very good, very clinical and technical with the whole thing and kept a good panel together there. He won an All-Ireland and got them to another All-Ireland.

“There's talks of Davy Fitz getting it. I don't know if that's realistic or not with his situation in Wexford.

“Probably within the county they may just keep continuity as well with some of the lads that were with Micheál Donoghue and try keep the likes of Noel Larkin, Franny Forde now they're very experienced at this stage.

“I'd prefer if the likes of Noel Larkin and Franny Forde could keep it going and Damien Joyce with them as well to try and keep that continuity.

“I think it's important the continuity is kept there for another couple of years and I think that would be important.

“Because I think there's another couple of years left in these lads and then there will be a few of them shoving over 30, 31, 32 or whatever it is and maybe we'll be pushing on at that stage you know.”

Former Galway manager Micheál Donoghue (right) pictured with former Galway selector Noel Larkin. 
Former Galway manager Micheál Donoghue (right) pictured with former Galway selector Noel Larkin. 

Hayes points to the success of Liam Sheedy as Tipperary manager this year as proof that keeping faith with a seasoned group of players rather than tearing up the script can bear fruit.

“Liam Sheedy got a bit of stick for that because people felt he was too loyal but obviously he saw what was in these lads and got it out of them which was great really,” said Hayes.

“I think that would work in Galway. There's a few lads alright that needed a rest this year, they had been going...Like if you look at it they'd been in the final in '12 a lot of those lads, and '15, '17 and '18.

“So it does take its toll and injuries do catch up. The 2018 run in fairness was exceptional really. Two drawn games in a very, very hot summer and that probably did burn them out a bit I'd say. It was just unfortunate that that's the way it went.

“They probably were a bit tired in the final as well but Limerick picked out Galway's weaker points, worked at it and played to a very strict game-plan all the way through and came out on top.

“I just feel there is another one in them. I still think they're as good a team as what's around really. They still have some marquee forwards, the likes of Conor Whelan, Joe Canning obviously as well.

“Good solidity there in the back line as well, Daithi Burke is still there at full-back even though he's playing football with Corofin at a very high level but he's proven himself to be one of the best backs in the country.

“Right throughout the field Galway still have what it takes to win but it's important they get a good manager and somebody who will gel the thing together and not split it up. There's another couple of years left in these fellas.

“The tendency is for a new manager to come in and split it up but if they can keep the continuity there it would be great.”

Hayes was speaking at Croke Park today where he was inducted into the GAA Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Galway's Conor Hayes (r) moves to intercept Tipperary's Nicky English in the 1988 All-Ireland SHC Final. 
Galway's Conor Hayes (r) moves to intercept Tipperary's Nicky English in the 1988 All-Ireland SHC Final. 

It’s the ultimate individual accolade a former player can receive, but Hayes believes it’s an acknowledgement of the great Galway team he hurled with as much as it is his own individual excellence over the course of his long inter-county career.

“It's an individual award and it's great to get it but you'd always think of the lads you played with and the teams you were with,” said Hayes.

“Any of the lads would say it, that you were fortunate to come with a group of players and that's the way it goes. Galway had a very, very good group of players that time.

“They just came at the right time really, came through and won the minor in '83, were beaten in the U21 in '82 and we won the U21 in '86 I think as well. All of those lads were just coming through, the likes of Joe Cooney, Michael McGrath, Anthony Cunningham, Eanna Ryan, Pat Malone - all these lads coming through.

“They were coming in off the minor team, Finnerty, Keady, McInerney then in the half-back line. All of these just stood up at that stage.

“They matured very quickly in fairness to them and became a very good team, I was just fortunate that I hung on and was still there with them.

“I was made captain as well which was a great honour really, to be captain of a team of that stature. We always felt we were very good, even talking to the likes of Nicky (English) or even Liam Fennelly and these lads that I meet now and again.

“They always felt that we were just that little bit of a cut above the rest. They'll admit it now, they mightn't have admitted it then! They just said that Galway were hard to beat and they were a good team.

“But we always felt we had that edge on teams at the time. People said if ye were in Leinster or Munster would ye have done as good, I think we would have. I think we'd have stood up to any team at the time.

“Tradition might have come against us a small bit but I still think we would have been up there with the best.

"We were able to beat any team on our day and we proved that. We probably should have won more but it just didn't happen for us.

“But that era was still great. And when you look back on it now it was great to win two (All-Irelands). Fantastic, really.”