It was a tough weekend by all accounts if you’re a Galwegian.
It started with the small ball on Saturday as the Galway camogie side got their Championship campaign underway with a tough two-point loss to Kilkenny followed later that evening by Dublin’s heroic victory over Micheál Donoghue’s hurling side that ultimately lead to their unusually early exit from the Championship.
On Sunday it was the turn of the footballers who were left stunned by Roscommon in a Connacht final on their home turf after leading by five points at half-time.
Galway legend, Padraic Joyce, was at Pearse Stadium on Sunday and expressed his disappointment following a difficult weekend for Galway GAA.
“It was disappointing for Galway, yeah. Disappointing weekend overall as a Galway supporter with the two of them losing. In fairness, the poor hurlers are on the go a long, long time so they’re probably tired. But the footballers were poor. They seemed to have the game won at half-time and just didn’t perform in the second half at all. They seemed to let it go away.
“Just after half-time, as manager you’d be telling a team if I was five points up to go six points, seven points up and kill the game. We conceded 1-1 straight away and the lead was wiped out in six minutes. We didn’t push on them. I wouldn’t mind we had the breeze as well. It’s hard to put your finger on it. Sometimes if the tide turns against you it’s very hard to turn it around but we still had enough players to stand up, take account of it and manufacture a few scores or frees to steady the tide.
Galway face a tough road back now. They may only have to win one game to get into the Super 8s but Joyce admits it will be hard for them to turn it around after shipping such a defeat coupled with the fact you are coming up against someone in the qualifiers who may have a few wins in a row under their belts.
“Very difficult because at least if you win the provincial final you’re guaranteed the first home game, you know where you’re playing. Whereas now they’ve to go and wait three weeks.
“It’ll be two weeks before they find out who they’re playing and the team they’re playing will have won three games in the backdoor so they’re going to be coming sky-high full of confidence and success under their belt, whereas you’ve to try and regroup and hit them head-on.”
However, it’s not all doom and gloom in Galway at present as their current U20 side is managed by Joyce. A legend within GAA, there are surely not many better men tasked with developing the future of Galway football and preparing these young men for life as an inter-county senior footballer.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 EirGrid GAA Football U20 All-Ireland Championship, Joyce says the players are shaping up well for a crack at All-Ireland glory having already competed against some of the country’s best sides in their recent league campaign.
“Yeah, we seem to be shaping okay, we’ve had the four matches. They were great matches with Kerry, Cork, Dublin, and Kildare, four great games and we learned a lot each day about the players we have.
“Unfortunately, we had 10 lads doing the Leaving Cert so we didn’t see a whole pile of them. It was definitely a great competition for the GAA to have it, I wouldn’t see glorified challenge matches, but proper matches with referees and stuff. We learned a lot from it and it was great preparation for our Championship match on July 3.”
The role is Joyce’s first real job in management and he admits to it being difficult striking the balance between the enjoyment of training and the not-so-enjoyable logistical side of things and dealing with county boards.
It’s a new area for the Galway legend, whose primary concern a decade ago was making sure his performance was at its optimal level. The two-time All-Ireland winner is adamant that Padraic Joyce the player is different from Padraic Joyce the manager.
“They are both different.
“When you are just playing you can be selfish and just worry about yourself. When you are managing you have to make sure the 30 guys in the dressing room are all okay, that they understand the message you are trying to get across.
“The big thing is the style of play and how you want lads to play, how you try to develop fellas in this group, turn them from boys to men. They have a lot going on with college and exams, that craic, even social media and phones.
“You’d find that they are bad communicators and bad talkers to each other. They’d have no problem texting one another, but they mightn’t say something as clear side by side to a fella. They are developing as time goes on. So far, so good.”
It’s funny to think that Padraic Joyce the player is someone that most of these u20s have no recollection of whatsoever. Joyce collected his first Sam Maguire title over 20 years ago now and the former Irish international rules captain is adamant that his achievements on the field has no bearing whatsoever on any of these young men.
It’s all about respect. Respect for your management team, respect for your players and respect for each other, no matter how big or small others may perceive you to be.
“You must realise when I was winning All Irelands with Galway these lads weren’t even born. They wouldn’t know who Padraic Joyce is or what he has done, it isn’t a big issue.
“The big thing for us whether you have a big name or a small name is you have to have respect for the management. We will only get off them provided we have everything done professionally and done right, which I feel that we have. They don’t hang off every word either. We try to involve the players to why they play so that they can break it down and know what is going on.”
Whether the players know it or not, there can be no disputing that the future of Galway football is in safe hands as long as Padraic Joyce is involved.