Galway hurling coach and team selector Mattie Kenny does not talk about winning hurling matches too often, if at all. He does not talk about winning All-Irelands, or indeed All-Ireland semi-finals. Instead, he focuses almost exclusively on the potential and expected performance that the Galway hurlers can produce on any given day.
He is a true believer in the doctrine that if the performance is of a high enough quality, the result will take care of itself. That mantra was proven right in the team’s sensational 10 point victory over Kilkenny in the Leinster final and Kenny knows that the team will have to produce another top quality display this Sunday if Galway are to reach the county’s first All-Ireland final since 2005.
He has been around far too long to take any team for granted, and he speaks highly of their opposition this Sunday. “We saw Cork against Waterford in their quarter final win and they were very impressive. They were three points down and Waterford probably had a couple of chances to win the match, so you would have to be impressed with Cork’s composure to get the scores to win. They are young and pacey up front and players like Conor Leehane have been doing very well. Plus, a lot of their experienced players have all-Ireland medals and know what it takes to win at this level. They have a bit of momentum going now too, so we know that we are in for a really tough challenge.”
Galway setting their own targets
Despite the challenge Cork pose, Kenny is keen to focus on what Galway have to do rather than fretting about the opposition.
“We always set our own targets and set out what we expect from the panel as regards producing a performance on any given Sunday and next weekend will be no different. We have been training for the past few weeks with an eye on this All-Ireland semi-final. Our defence, our middle third, and forwards have a key role to play and then as a collective unit we have to work together. We will just be pushing the need for a high quality performance. Performance, performance, performance – that is where it is at. If our work rate, intensity, tackling, blocking and overall play, is to the level we want and need, the result will be the one we want.
“Most of the current Galway squad have not played in a senior All-Ireland semi-final before and it will be a new experience for them. But, it is not something we fear. It is a challenge to be relished and we just have to bring our style of hurling, our brand of hurling, the things that we have been working at in training for the past few months to Croke Park. We just have to concentrate on that and keep doing the simple things well.
“We had a good display the last day we were in Croke Park and we are confident that we can produce another this weekend again. That is what we are about. And that is what we need to do if we are to be back in Croke Park in September.”
A big Galway support would be fantastic
Kenny knows the impact that big support can have on most teams and he is hopeful that the Galway hurling supporters will come out in good numbers to cheer on the team this Sunday.
“There is a very good level of interest in this game and we are hopeful that there will be a good crowd from Galway there to give support to the lads. A big Galway support on Sunday would be a massive boost and in some games a loud and boisterous crowd on your side can feel like a sixteenth. We are hopeful that Galway supporters will travel in big numbers, and that we give them something to cheer about. If we perform to what we are capable of, we will.”