Galway hurlers jet off to New York and Mexico before the hard work begins again

December 26, 2017

Galway players celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

by Daragh Small

Galway hurlers head off on their team holiday today (TUES, St Stephen's Day) to New York and Mexico and while they reflect on their best season ever, selector Franny Forde says that their attention at this stage is on retaining their All-Ireland crown.

The squad will spend the next three days in New York before jetting to the sunshine in Cancun but after that it will be a case of knuckling down and working hard to retain their league, Leinster and All-Ireland crowns.

And Forde the once in a lifetime opportunity to retain the Liam MacCarthy Cup will help drive the Tribesmen to become a more potent outfit in 2018.

Galway won their first All-Ireland in 29 years when they defeated Waterford 0-26 to 2-17 at Croke Park on September 3.

It was a magnificent year where they also claimed the league title and the Leinster championship before claiming what is only their fifth Liam MacCarthy Cup success.

Their only back-to-back All-Irelands came in 1987 and '88 and emulating that team is now the driving force.

"There is always a danger that you go out and your performance is a little flat. But from a coaching point of view, this was always a once in a lifetime thing," said Forde.

"If you go into a situation where you are going to coach or manage your county you are probably going to do it once in your lifetime so you are going to give it your best shot.

"Winning an All-Ireland was the objective but we are here now and we have the opportunity to improve that performance. We won't get this opportunity ever again.

"We have the ambition to make the most of that but that involves getting better. Anything we do, be it trying to get the best facilities and structures in place for the lads. Our job as management is to remove all obstacles to performance.

"We want the players to perform. If that means that we are constantly going to the board looking for better facilities, that's our job. Our job is to put down structures and have the game-plans that allow the players perform.

"Remove all the obstacles and then they have no excuse," said the Turloughmore clubman.

Galway lost six All-Ireland finals since 1988 before Micheal Donoghue took over in December 2015 with Forde and Noel Larkin joining him.

Forde says he was humbled by the impact winning an All-Ireland has had at home.

"It has been much more than we could have imagined. When you see older people wanting to get their hands on the cup, there is more emotion, thinking back to bygone days. It means a lot to people and being in a position to have brought that joy means an awful lot to us," said Forde.

"We are hoping the players will get a lift from that and want to go back and repeat that. The nature of sports people is we are looking ahead and setting our sights on the next challenge."

And Forde insists that the Galway management won't look to make wholesale changes but will require a marked improvement, once the squad returns from their team holiday after the first week of January.

"We found something last year in terms of our preparation and the way we approach games. We found structures within the group that everyone was happy with, in terms of leadership and how we went about our business," said Forde.

"There are a few things there that we would be very happy with. But at the same we need to improve because if we stand still other teams would pass you out.

"That has to be the objective. We are looking at every area of our preparation and seeing where we can improve."

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