Padraic Joyce’s first year in charge has been a strange one, entailing many twists and turns.
Galway’s pre-Covid form had many tipping them for a tilt at Sam Maguire, but it did not turn out that way.
When football returned, Galway had lost that momentum and could not rediscover that early spring form.
Joyce and his backroom team of John Divilly, John Concannon and Michael Ó’Domhnaill will have learned much from their first year as a management team at intercounty level. And hopefully that experience will help develop them next season and produce a more successful year in 2021.
Despite the season having ended on a low note, there were a number of positives to take into next season.
Introduction of new players
Joyce gave time to a number of new players throughout the league and championship campaign.
Paul Kelly, Séan Mulkerrin and Dessie Conneely made their championship debuts versus Mayo. In the league, a handful of young players, who are sure to feature more in the years to come for Galway, all made appearances. James Foley, John Maher, Liam Costello, Matthew Tierney, Conor Campbell, Darragh Silke and Maitias Barrett all gathered minutes and experience during the league.
The younger players, coupled with the introduction of a few more experienced heads, such as Connor Gleeson and Ronan Steede, saw Galway use plenty of new players in this year's squad.
There is sure to be another fresh injection of youth given the talent coming through from U20 this year, which will further freshen up the panel. Good healthy competition within the squad can only be a good thing for Galway football.
Style of Football
In the early part of the league, Galway were playing some swashbuckling football and were the best team to watch in the country. Their direct running from deep and early kick-passing into space was a joy to behold and reaped plenty of positive results.
The skill levels of some players was displayed in brilliant performances, such as the hammering given to Tyrone in Tuam and the loss to Kerry in Tralee, when there were some superb attacking moves put together.
Central to Galway’s forward play was Shane Walsh, who showed the country that when he is on form, he is one of, if not the best player in Ireland.
Despite a difficult end to the Mayo game, Walsh is crucial to Galway’s potential to be successful going forward as there is no player in the game like him.
Galway’s Number One
The goalkeeper position has evolved and become the most important position in the game of Gaelic football. The balance of a game is now decided on who can win the kick-out battle. Much of the onus to retain kick-outs falls at the feet of the goalkeeper.
Connor Gleeson produced some strong performances early in the league for Galway, but was usurped for the championship by Corofin’s Bernard Power who was heroic in the Mayo game.
Power made two one-on-one saves which kept Galway in the game, and his kickouts were impeccable throughout, allowing Galway to gain a foothold at midfield.
Galway have been chopping and changing goalkeeper for years, but Power now looks to have nailed the number one jersey for next season at least.
Hot on his heels will be Claregalway’s Conor Flaherty and his own clubmate Oran Burke, both having impressed throughout the underage ranks.