It may have taken Kevin Walsh a couple of years to put his native county on the football map since he took over as manager, but the former All Star and double All-Ireland winner had every reason to celebrate when Galway shocked Mayo in Castlebar in the Connacht semi-final.
The fact that most people disrespected Galway in the build-up to that semi-final was a huge motivating factor in their win. Now there is a change of direction as Roscommon are now the focus, and when I spoke to Kevin recently it was obvious that the win against Mayo has given this Galway team a huge boost in the run-up to the Connacht final.
“Look, the mood in our camp is very upbeat since beating Mayo and there is no point in saying anything else. It was a great win but it was a game that was a target for our preparations for a long time beforehand and it all came right on the day, thank God.
“We went with a game plan and we pulled off the win on the day. I was just delighted for the players that put in such an effort for the cause that we carried the day. The fact that we were given no chance in the build-up is well documented now and it was great motivation for us, but that game is now over and we have a new challenge ahead of us now.
“On the injuries front we are going along nicely and we will have a full panel for the final, which is great.”
Kevin says that while his side did well to beat Mayo, they have loads to work on before the final against Roscommon. “We can improve, for sure. The fact that some of our better-known players were not the stars on the day against Mayo means that other lads on the team stepped up to the mark. Our teamwork was excellent and we will need that again on Sunday. Expectations will be higher now – after beating Mayo. That comes with the territory and we have to just live with that.”
Kevin says that Roscommon are a top class team and he is expecting a fierce challenge from them.
“Roscommon are a progressing team with plenty of very good footballers. It’s only a few years ago they were in Division Four of the league and now they are established in Division One. For them to have secured their status in Division One so easily is a measure of how good they are and we know that unless we are at the top of our game we will be in trouble against them.
“Roscommon have a very strong panel too and the players coming off the bench are just as strong as the ones on the field. But this is another big challenge for us and we have to be ready for it.”
Even though Roscommon have a poor record at Pearse Stadium over the years, Kevin says the venue won’t make one bit of difference on Sunday.
“Pearse Stadium is just another pitch and if you perform poorly it doesn’t matter where you play. I just hope that the Galway supporters come out in force to support the team. We know that there will be plenty of Roscommon people there and we want to match that. There was a small crowd from Galway in Castlebar at the Mayo game and hopefully the fact we won will get the Galway supporters out in force again.”
Kevin Walsh concluded by saying that the win against Mayo has heightened expectations in Galway, which is only natural.
“The win against Mayo has given everyone a boost, but this is a new game now and a new challenge. We will go into the game with a definite game plan and if we follow that and play well then we are in with a great chance – but there won’t be much in it,” he concluded.