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Friday 20 September 2019

Galway's major priority is to produce a solid performance

Tim Rabbitt
Tim Rabbitt
Tracey Leonard

Tim Rabbitt is a fan of the Dubs. He's the Galway Ladies Football manager.

He says the salmon in the Corrib are dancing this week. After seeing the O'Duffy Cup pass by.

But Tim says this is a different day now. A whole new ball-game.

"It was brilliant to see what the Galway camogie side did last week. A lot of our guys went up to support them.

"There's a great buzz in the county. We'll feed off it a little bit, but it's not really a factor for us now.

"Our aim is to put in a performance that we are proud of. Dublin are such a great side. We know we face a huge challenge. But all we can do is to concentrate on our own performance."

Last year, Dublin beat Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. "The lesson we took from that day was that we can't concede four or five goals and hope to win the All-Ireland.

"Dublin can hit you with hammer blows at different times. We will have to have a strong defensive structure in place. And then to attack when we get the opportunity."

Tim was coaching the team last year. "It's so enjoyable working with the players and the management group.

"We came back last November. And nearly all of the players were there. That said a lot to me.

"Here they were again prepared to give it another crack. Prepared to commit for another season. It's easy to do that when you win, but not so easy when you have lost.

"We have made progress. Last year we reached the League and the Championship semi-finals. This season we made the League final. Unfortunately, we didn't win it.

"And now we are in the All-Ireland final. We are delighted to be there. To be part of the biggest day in the sport.

"We are not here to try and stop the Dubs or anything like that. For us, it's all about working hard and having football smartness."

Playing the semi-final in Croke Park last month was a help. "It was the first time any of our players have played there. The Croke Park factor is a big thing.

"Hopefully playing there will stand to the girls, although we face a different scenario now. There's likely to be three or four times as many people at the game and that's another challenge for us."

Tracey Leonard, agrees. She is a nurse. In the Galway Regional. In 2016, she was on the treatment table herself.

The dreaded cruciate. Out for 11 months. "It makes you realise how lucky you are to be out playing," she reflects.

Tracey is the skipper of the Galway Fleet. But she says the crew have many captains.

"It's a huge honour to be captain of Galway. As a kid, it's something you'd never think would happen, although, deep down, it's something you dream about.

"But I only have a small part to play. I'm not a big speaker. There's lots of girls in the dressing-room that can speak when something needs to be said.

"There's many captains in this group. I just feel privileged to be among them."

The long road back from injury can be a lonely one. Little did Tracey realise that within three years Galway would be in the All-Ireland final. "These are the days you dream about."

It's 2004 since the Brendan Martin Cup last went to Galway. Last Sunday, the O'Duffy Cup returned for the first time since 2013.

"It's a great achievement for them. We'll draw inspiration from that. That will help to drive us on. They didn't go in as favourites, and we are under no illusions.

"For us, it's a great opportunity to play the best. We'll view it as another game, and we'll try to improve from our last game."

That was the semi-final win over Mayo. "We showed great determination. It underlined the character of the players.

"There will be a big crowd, but we'll just zone in on the 60 minutes.

"Dublin are the favourites, but if you go in with the right work-rate and attitude, anything can happen.

"If we produce a performance, the rest will look after itself."

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