News

 
By Cian O’Connell
 
Padraic Mannion initially missed the roar and hum from the Croke Park crowd, but once the Leinster SHC semi-final got under way it was business as usual.

That splendid success over Wexford illustrated Mannion’s versatility and value to the Galway cause, but the Ahascragh-Fohenagh clubman delivered another effective display.

Shane O’Neill’s first match in charge of Galway culminated in a fine victory to set up an intriguing provincial decider against Kilkenny at GAA headquarters on Saturday evening.

Mannion acknowledges that it took a little time to adjust at the Jones Road venue. “I think when we ran out onto the pitch and maybe a little bit in the warm-up, it was a bit different alright,” Mannion says.

“You are just used to having the noise in the background but once the game is thrown-in it, it was fine and like any other game really.”

In the centrefield exchanges Mannion excelled, but he stressed the importance of always remaining vigilant when Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford are involved.

“It’s like any game you play against Wexford, it’s very tough and they just challenge you in so many different ways that you just have to be really sharp and really on it,” Mannion responds.

“I think early on, even myself, I was a little bit off it early on and we nearly got caught for a goal. Thankfully we grew into the game and got on top eventually.

“When you play a team like Wexford there’s a certain element of focusing on yourself, but if they have runners from deep forwards have to track. So it’s very different.

 

Padraic Mannion is captaining the Galway senior hurlers in 2020.
Padraic Mannion is captaining the Galway senior hurlers in 2020.

 

“You can have whatever system you want, but you still have to be able to counteract their system. I think that was a lot of it, we were just tracking them a lot and you could end up anywhere really.

“That’s the kind of game it was. We saw a few of our half forwards back, just had to track their men back deep at times, but that’s just the way the game was.”

A familiar foe now awaits at the weekend with the black and amber striped team from Kilkenny bringing the next challenge.

“Different in some ways, but very similar in some ways too,” Mannion remarks about the Kilkenny task compared to the previous outing with Wexford.

“Obviously the fact that they don’t play the he sweeper, they’d be known for playing a more orthodox 15 on 15 as they call it. They’re still an unbelievable team and you never, never have an easy game against them. So I’m sure it’s not going to be any different.”

Galway’s early Championship exit in 2019 and the pandemic this year ensured there was a real sense of relief to return to high stakes action.

“The first game I found myself probably a bit more nervous than I would have been before just because it’s been so long and I had an injury or two myself, so I hadn’t an awful lot done,” Mannion states. “You’d be a bit anxious alright but once you get out it’s great to be out there and you enjoy it.”

The loss to Dublin hurt Galway to the core highlighting the narrow margins of Championship hurling. “We didn’t speak about it as a group,” Mannion remarks. “Maybe individually, for lads it’s might have been at the back of their minds.

“That seems so long ago now. Even the League earlier on seems like a different season altogether now. A long break but with all the club games we feel like we’ve a lot of hurling done in some ways. It was great to get back into the Championship mode again.”

By Cian O'Connell

Galway manager Shane O'Neill is hopeful Fintan Burke will be available for the upcoming Leinster SHC Final at Croke Park against Kilkenny on November 14.

Burke suffered a shoulder injury in the closing stages of last weekend's win over Wexford at GAA headquarters.

O'Neill admitted the problem isn't as bad as initially feared. "We don’t think so, no," O'Neill remarked. "So hopefully he will be okay."

Daithi Burke is continuing his comeback and hasn't been ruled out either.

"We don’t know yet, he is still in his rehab so we’re just going to see how it goes over the next week really," O'Neill commented.

"We’ve got a couple of lads coming back now, so we won’t know - we’ve only had the session on Tuesday afterwards, which was light enough.

 

Galway senior hurling manager Shane O'Neill.
Galway senior hurling manager Shane O'Neill.

 "We’ll probably have a better indication at the weekend or next Tuesday as to exactly where we’re at."

Having steered his home Limerick's Na Piarsaigh to All Ireland glory, O'Neill believes the benefits of a split season are significant.

"It was nearly a 15-month season for us with the club, which was very difficult at that particular time," O'Neill says.

"I think it’s probably the way to go.

"You could see the energy in the clubs - the fact that they had all the county boys with them.

"I think it’s probably looking like the best system at the moment. The fact they had the forced dry run as well shows that it was a success. So I would think that it’s probably the way to go, yeah."

Galway Senior Hurling Team to face Wexford in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final:

1. Éanna Murphy (Tommy Larkins)

2. Seán Loftus (Turloughmore)

3. Fintan Burke (St. Thomas')

4. Aidan Harte (Gort)

5. Padraic Mannion, Capt. (Ahascragh Fohenagh)

6. Gearóid McInerney (Oranmore Maree)

7. Shane Cooney (St. Thomas')

8. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh Fohenagh)

9. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)

10. Conor Cooney (St. Thomas')

11. Joe Canning (Portumna)

12. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)

13. Brian Concannon (Killimordaly)

14. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)

15. Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkins)

Padraic Mannion enjoying return to action

By Cian O'Connell

Padraic Mannion just tried to stay cool and calm.

In the strange and worrying days when competitive sport wasn't permitted for four months, Mannion wondered what would happen.

Now that a Championship is motoring the Galway captain is simply delighted that the agenda features inter-county action.

"The uncertainty was probably the toughest bit, not knowing was there going to be Championship or not, that’s probably at the start of the lockdown," Mannion says.

"Then as you go further into it you probably realise that I’m getting to spend time with my family that I didn’t get to spend before, maybe have a different outlook on things.

"Personally, I’m just really looking forward to going back playing."

A deep appreciation exists for sport. "I probably have a bit more enjoyment for it now, not feeling the pressure as much," Mannion adds.

"It was tough, the uncertainty, but it was the same for everybody. There’s a lot more serious things going on than us wondering about when we’re going to be playing a match or training so that’s only a minor thing compared to what some people are going through."

Hurling, though, continues to provide joy, and that is one of the lessons Mannion learned.

 

Padraic Mannion in Allianz Hurling League action for Galway against Limerick last February.
Padraic Mannion in Allianz Hurling League action for Galway against Limerick last February.

 

"You can get caught up sometimes with the pressure of it all if you’ve big games coming up," Mannion admits. 

"Obviously there’s something wrong if you don’t have a bit of nerves coming up to big games, but just a fraction less maybe, trying to get more enjoyment out of it. 

"Anyone I’ve been talking to since the announcement, everyone is just delighted. The people at home that can watch the games I think it’s going to be massive for GAA people that the games are going ahead, not just the players, I think everybody in general. 

"It gives you something to talk about like, I didn’t realise how much time you spend talking about sport until it was gone.

"So I think it’s going to be massive for the country, apart from the players at all, just the people that can sit down and watch games and talk about it."

As a post primary school teacher Mannion has adapted to radically changed ways in the workplace also.

"It was different going back at the start with the masks and that, but in fairness all the students have been very good and have made it easy on us teachers," Mannion remarks. 

"It’s different, but once you get used to it, it’s obviously not the same as what it was but different years have their own zones for lunchtime and stuff, but they’ve been very good with it and in fairness our principal and vice-principal have made it easy on all the staff as well. 

"The teachers are just doing the best they can and hopefully we can stay open as long as possible, it’s looking that way that they’re going to keep them open so it’s great to be back."

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