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The Galway players celebrate after winning the Wild Geese Trophy in hte Spotless stadium, Sydney. 
The Galway players celebrate after winning the Wild Geese Trophy in hte Spotless stadium, Sydney. 

Galway's All-Ireland demons exorcised by Wild Geese win

By John Harrington

Paul Killeen hopes that Galway’s victory over Kilkenny in Sunday’s Wild Geese Trophy clash in Sydney has exorcised the demons of their All-Ireland defeat to Limerick.

The trip to Australia has been their first time to come together as a group since surrendering their title to the Shannonsiders, and it’s been a cathartic experience for the players, according to Killeen.

“Yeah, I think so,” said the Galway defender. “To be fair, we had one weekend off and then we were back to the clubs straight away so it's probably the first time as a group that we've met since the All-Ireland.

“It is good to get away. In '15 we got away to Boston and it was a good click for the group, just something that was needed. They're different trips, but it's good to get away as a group. We're a tight-knit group so the more we see of each other the better.

“Obviously we were gutted with what happened in August. Hopefully that's a line in the sand now. You could look at this game as an end of '18 game or start of '19 game. If you look at it as the start of '19 it's a good starting point going forward.

“Next year won't be long coming around and I'm looking forward to it. The way it worked last year it was game on game so looking forward to getting back with Lukasz now in the next few weeks and getting into shape again.

“Once the games starts, the League will fly by. Then back to the club and back at it again. A lot to look forward to.”

Galway looked like they were going to suffer a heavy defeat on Sunday when Kilkenny raced into a 2-14 to 0-6 lead in the second-half.

But they showed a lot of character to rally in the second even when reduced to 14 men after Joe Canning was red-carded, and a late goal from Joe Mooney ensured the match finished level and went to a free-taking competition which Galway won.

“Yeah, we were in a bit of a hole alright at half-time,” said Killeen. “We didn't come half way around the world to be embarrassed which was what happened in the first half for a small bit of it.

“We knew we were good enough to compete, it was just a matter of getting up the levels a small bit. We were a bit sleepy or something in the first-half, whatever it was.

“Joe Mooney got the goal and he's only a new lad on the panel. Jack Coyne came on as well and it was kind of the fringe players who stepped up a small bit, especially when Joe got sent off, which was very pleasing to see in terms of going forward.

“Happy enough for a finish, but it took us a while to get going.”

Galway’s starting XV has been very settled for the last few years and if they’re to raise their level in 2019 they realistically need those fringe players putting their hands up more emphatically for selection.

“Absolutely, yeah,” said Killeen. “You see Kilkenny, they were down a few but you saw the performance they put on in the first half with lesser known players than they've had for the last few years and that's something probably that we need to look at going forward too, everyone just pushing, pushing, pushing.

“We've had a settled team which is fine, it's good, but if you can get 24 guys that can just slip in and out it's very positive going forward. We got a bit of that today which is good for the future. Hopefully we can bring that with us.”

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