‘We are the stronger in the collective’ - Donoghue

‘Work rate is paramount to us,’
says Donoghue

‘Work rate is paramount to us,’ says Donoghue

"You are the prisoners of circumstance, of coincidence, and chance […] if you believe in such thing,"15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh are told, as they are caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists, Nicholas Flamel and John Dee, over the possession of an ancient and powerful book holding the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life in Michael Scott's fantasy novel The Alchemyst: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

Micheál Donoghue may feel like a prisoner of circumstance during his reign. The Clarinbridge man has led the Tribesmen to a record unbeaten 13 championship matches, 11 wins and two draws.

But under the championship structure that was in place in the 1980s, he would have secured five consecutive All-Ireland titles and would be facing into a sixth final on Sunday. However, circumstances and life have changed since those heady days of Galway hurling and Donoghue only has the one Liam MacCarthy to his CV. But he contends the extra matches have made this season all the more enjoyable.

"It has been a massive learning for us but I think the new structure has been brilliant. When it is all over there may be a need for a few tweaks. We are going into our ninth game this year, when you play that many games you are just rolling from one to the other and looking forward to the next one, and that has been our mantra the whole time that the next one is the most important.

"It is great to show a level of consistency [of 13 matches unbeaten]. It is another thing for which you are striving. It was something that went against the team a few years ago but the boys now are showing massive consistency. I think you have to do that to keep competing at the top. It has been a big positive and all the credit goes to the players. Their attitude and application has been top notch and their sheer desire to be successful as they can be now. We are exactly where we want to be. Obviously we know it is going to be very formidable [challenge] against Limerick but you have to be in it to win it."

'Everyone understands their responsibility with being involved'

The route taken by Galway to reach the decider has been the most difficult any side from the county has ever faced, and the manager highlighted the importance of a panel of 37 hardworking players and valuable experience garnered over the past seasons as being crucial in overcoming every challenge that has been laid down in front of them since their campaign commenced in Tullamore back in May.

Work rate is No 1

"I have said it many times and this is the message that is not lost on anyone involved, we are stronger in the collective. It is always about the 36, 37, involved and everyone understands their responsibility with being involved. This was really evident in the drawn game against Clare when we lost so many players to injuries and everybody that came on made a massive contribution. There were also other lads [capable of stepping up] if they were given the opportunity. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have made a massive contribution and that is huge for us.

"I think we are more experienced and we have drawn on that experience. You draw on the good and bad and you go from game to game and you take the learnings from each one. I think even against Clare we learned from the drawn game and implemented it in the second game. That experience will stand to you.

"Physicality is big but there are more aspects to this team such as work rate and skill. I think ultimately they are natural ingredients and if you talk to any team they will always say work rate is number one. I have said many times these boys understand the responsibility of wearing that jersey. Work rate is paramount for us, but it is about hurling and what you do with the sliotar. There has been a lot said about the physicality of Galway and Limerick but ultimately they are all serious hurlers as well."

It is clear the state of the senior team is in a healthy place. But Donoghue is quick to point to the hard work being done at underage level to create a culture where every player and member of management is singing from the same hymn sheet.

"We want to create an environment where we can be as competitive as we can and be at the business end of every Championship. There is a massive connectivity with the U21s and down to the minors, and trying to create that culture where everyone is going in the same direction, and if we all pull in that direction we will be knocking at the business end.

"[We have a] Great structure in place with Frannie [Francis Forde], in terms of continuity you need it. The way it has gone, it is so professional. For an 18 or 19-year-old to go straight on to the senior team, it will be few and far between. The strength and conditioning side is one part of it but it is a massive part of it. We are fortunate to have Lukasz [Kirszenstein], he is overseeing it with the U21s and he is in constant contact with Jeff [Jeffrey Lynskey] so it is about trying to have everyone on the same programme so that when they come through they are a long way down the road which is very important for us.

"That is why we have worked really hard over the last few years in particular with the U21s, and that is why Frannie is involved and Lukasz is overseeing strength and conditioning and Fergal Healy is involved. It is great for the hurlers involved with both teams. We bring lads in intermittently over the course of the year so by the time they come in [to the team permanently] it is nothing new for them."

Looking ahead to Sunday, Donoghue says the team's focus is firmly on producing a performance and if that is achieved, then the result and history books will take care of themselves.

"We do not really talk about winning or losing. It is just about the performance and taking the learnings from each game and bring them onto the next one. That is what we are focusing now, trying to get a good performance. That is what you learn from [last year]. Limerick have had a great year as well and they are going to try to bring their game and we are going to try to bring ours."

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