All-Ireland winner with Galway Kieran Fitzgerald has backed his former teammate Pádraic Joyce to be successful in his new role as their senior football manager.
Joyce guided the county’s U20 side to the All-Ireland semi-final in his first taste of inter-county management before being handed the reigns of the senior side following the departure of Kevin Walsh.
The two-time All-Ireland winner is a popular choice within Galway and Fitzgerald has described him as a “shrewd operator”.
“I’m looking forward to it now. He’s a shrewd operator, he knows his football. I’ve played with him, in the dressing room, on the pitch, he knows his stuff. He knows the type of football he wants to play. He has said he wants to play a more expansive game.
“He’s a huge figure in Galway. He’s one of the best footballers that Galway has ever produced. Very popular, he’ll bring the crowds in. You want to see a bit of go-forward ball, and people are looking forward to it.
“Expectation-wise, I don’t know what will happen. People are looking forward to it, and I think he’s going to be good.”
Joyce has made no secret of his desire for success with the Tribesmen. In his first interview as Galway boss, he outlined how anything less than an All-Ireland title is an underachievement with the side.
Having played alongside him, Fitzgerald is no stranger to his confidence and believes he has the ability to bring Galway to the top.
“We haven’t won an All-Ireland since 2001. But Galway are traditionally one of the top counties. The talent is there to be really competitive. I don’t know, Dublin and Kerry just seem to be a good bit ahead of what’s there at the minute, but if Padraic Joyce says we’re going to win an All-Ireland, who are we to say not?
“It’s going to be exciting. Probably marry a bit of the previous styles of defence with a little bit more attack, that will be the way to go.
“He’s a confident man. He knows what he wants. He’s been very successful on and off the pitch. Whether he can do it and win an All-Ireland in 10 months, I hope he can! But I think Galway will go places with him.”
If Joyce is hoping to implement an attacking and expansive brand of football in Galway, he need look further than Fitzgerald’s Corofin for inspiration.
That style of play has earned the club back-to-back All-Ireland titles as well as many admirers among the game’s supporters.
The 38-year-old has credited their approach for their ability to retain younger players as well as for prolonging his own club career as the side go on the hunt for another Connacht title.
“Training is enjoyable, to be honest with you, and it’s not overly technical. Some of the drills that we’re doing right now are drills that I was doing when I was U14.
“We’re kicking the ball as much as possible, playing as many games as possible. Sevens football is a big part of our club, we play it regularly at training, we always send a team to the Kilmacud 7s.
“You could play a 15-a-side game and get five touches, you could play a 7-a-side game and get 30/40 touches over the course of seven minutes.
“We’re not alone in doing that but it helps if you’re going training that you know you’re going to be playing ball because that’s what you want to do rather than being flogged.
“Some nights aren’t that nice going training, you’re looking at the wind and rain across the floodlights and at least you know you’re going to play a bit of ball. And it’s short and snappy, an hour and ten, no longer than that.
“It makes a difference when you’re doing it a long time rather than two or three-hour sessions and meetings and stuff. So it has worked.”
Corofin and former Galway footballer Kieran Fitzgerald is pictured ahead of the AIB Connacht Senior Football Club Championship Final where they face Padraig Pearses on Sunday, November 24th at Tuam Stadium.
AIB is in its 29th year sponsoring the GAA Club Championship and is delighted to continue to support the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Championships across football, hurling and camogie.