Galway selector Larkin says they have disproven ‘the goals win games theory’

GALWAY’S MARCH TOWARDS the 2017 All-Ireland crown was notable for the lack of goals they scored en route to the title.

They averaged almost 28 points per game in the championship but only hit the net in one game – the Leinster quarter-final against Dublin. Galway raised two green flags against Dublin in Tullamore but failed to bag another goal in the four games that followed.

Only two sides since 2004 have won an All-Ireland final despite failing to bag a three-pointer – Cork 14 years ago and the Tribesmen last September.

Galway opened up their Leinster campaign this year by putting five goals past Offaly and they’ve hit the net five more times in the seven games that followed. In total, they’ve bagged at least a goal in six of their eight championship games this season.

Galway’s goalscorers this summer
2 – Brian Concannon (both vs Offaly)
2 – Conor Whelan (vs Offaly, vs Wexford)
2 – Jonathan Glynn (vs Kilkenny replay, vs Clare replay)
1 – Jason Flynn (vs Offaly)
1 – Joe Canning (vs Offaly – penalty)
1 – Joseph Cooney (vs Offaly)
1 – Conor Cooney (vs Clare)

When Galway come up against a sweeper they’re happy to pop the scores over from distance, but on Sunday Limerick are likely to defend man-on-man which could provide goalscoring opportunities for Micheal Donoghue’s side.

Either way, the Tribe management have full confidence in their players to make the right decision on the field.

“Listen we trust the lads, if it opens up they play on instinct if there is a goal chance on then absolutely go for it,” says selector Noel Larkin.

“We are happy enough with where we are scoring goals and everyone wants to score more goals and I think we have knocked the goals win games theory. It’s down to the players if its on absolutely take it on.

Michael Donoghue celebrates with selector Noel Larkin after the replay win over Clare

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We didn’t go out to score five goals against Offaly that just the way it happened. On the flip side, we only scored 15 points so you could say you’re not happy scoring 15 points.

“You saw the Leinster final. 18 points got us a draw we’d have lost with that the last day so from game to game you see a lot of differences in the scores.

“1-30 in the drawn game, 1-17 the last day known there were 20 minutes of extra time so you get different scoring differences in games we’ll take a 0-5 to 0-4 win at this stage.”

Galway have played Sunday’s opponents Limerick once already this season, a Division 1B encounter back in March. The Tribesmen led by eight points at one stage but were reeled back in by the Shannonsiders who eventually prevailed by 2-18 to 1-19.

“We saw them first hand in the league in Pearse Stadium,” says Larkin. “It’s common knowledge we were (eight) points up that day and they came back and pipped us at the post at the end.

“Now we can put it down to training they were a bit ahead of us but the fact remains they have been earmarked from early in the year as one of the contenders and it is no surprise they are in the final.

“I won’t say it was a shock obviously you are disappointed any time you lose a seven or eight point lead at home. It was very disappointing, we always stress the importance of trying to get out of 1B and Limerick knocked that on the head. We seen them up close that day and they are a serious outfit.”

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A week later Galway went down to Wexford in the league quarter-final, only the second time during Micheal Donoghue’s reign they suffered back-to-back defeats.

Larkin says their late return to training at the start of the year meant they had no worries they would rediscover their winning touch.

“It’s common knowledge we were late back and had a bit of celebrating to do which I would gladly do this year again.

“We were always confident that we were behind and knew we’d get it right in the end. It was disappointing and at half-time in the Wexford game in Wexford Park with a great crowd we absolutely wanted to win it.

Tempers flare during the league meeting between Galway and Limerick

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Wexford were ahead and kicked on in the last five minutes and we lost Jack Coyne to a red card that day so we were down a man for the last 20. But we were happy we brought them to the last few minutes and lost by (three) in the end so we weren’t by any means panicking or anything.”

Much has been made of the Limerick bench that contributed 2-6 against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final, but Larkin believes the Galway subs pack a serious punch too.

“I think more depth is a great point. At extra-time in the drawn game in Croke Park I looked around and I think there was five All-Stars on the bench for whatever reasons, taken off, injury or emptied the tank.

“We have used 26 players this year in the championship we have great depth in the squad and against Clare in extra time our panel got us over the line. More depth is something we looked at and we are happy enough where we are going on that score.”

All that’s left now is to formulate a game plan to take down Limerick and enjoy the build-up.

“The fact (we only had) two weeks (to prepare means) we are not getting a lot of time to analyse them the way we would have on previous opposition.

“The structure of the championship this year you are playing different opposition every week or two weeks so there isn’t time which might not be a bad thing because the focus has to be on you and what you are trying to do so it might not be a bad thing in hindsight.

“The fact that we have the experience of last year definitely makes a massive difference. Two weeks is probably not enough time if it was a case where we hadn’t got last year’s experience so everything is nearly done now, so it’s just a matter of waiting on the game to come around now.

“Everyone wants to be involved in the biggest day of the year. The semi finals are for getting over the line and getting to the final and once you are there, it’s not that you take the foot off the gas but everything is done and its a matter of fine tuning and putting the plan in place for the opposition and hopefully roll it out on the day and it works. ”

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