GALWAY HURLING BOSS Anthony Cunningham admits the Tribesmen are reaping the reward for rethinking their approach to the game.
The Leinster champions face Cork at Croke Park on Sunday in an intriguing All-Ireland SHC semi-final.
And a new development squad — which is run by Portumna boss Johnny Kelly — is something that’s helped elevate them to the next level this year, Cunningham explains.
“It’s something we pushed for last year and this year with the hurling delegates and Board to use that. We have a big number of under 21s currently in both panels and that has been good. Sometimes players would be with us who might not be going that well and we’d leave them back with the development squad. We train at times together or we’d play them. Sometimes it would be the under 21s versus the development.
“Tipperary have been very good at that and Limerick in the last few years, definitely. Galway needed to tap into that structure. It’s good to see that now. That would be one big plus for Galway and the other would be the club championship had extra rounds and was very competitive in Galway this year. The format was changed slightly but we allowed a lot of games to go on because there were matches at the end of April and May and even matches a week before the Offaly match. There has been a full round since. That’s a great way to ground players too because after the Kilkenny match they were back with their clubs the following weekend and it was knock out so they’re down now to the quarter finals.
“That’s something we endorsed as well. I think across the board I see that not happening in other counties, either in football or hurling. Some clubs don’t have a match until August. I think Croke Park should push that there is a championship round in every month from May right through because it’s all about clubs really. For us there are probably younger fellas playing with clubs who we will be looking at for next year already that maybe didn’t make the Galway panel this year. But the more summer hurling they get this year helps them for maybe a league campaign next March.
With Jimmy Barry Murphy and his backroom side lying in wait this weekend, Cunningham too admits delegation to a management team is key; and Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert brings something different to the training ground.
“Mattie’s coaching abilities are second to none,” Cunningham says. “Within the county he has been many, many years coaching and has a fantastic insight into the game and has a great knowledge and has put in huge work. The game plan that you see and a lot of the performances that you have seen is down his performance the last day.
“Tom’s ability, he had focused a lot on the mental side and the preparation. There has been some frailties in that in Galway over the years but he has done outstanding work, particularly on mental and one to one preparations with players.
“They were two areas where we sat down at the start of the year and addressed. We didn’t have consistency, that area was taken by Tom but the coaching area was taken was Mattie’s. We’re all involved in it on a nightly basis, we all have input into sessions. We all know what we have to do, we take different parts of sessions. The big thing would be we would be quite close in how we think is the way it should be played. That helps enormously.”