Friday 22 March 2019

Mannion happy with response to Galway lulls

TEAK TOUGH: Mannion in action against the Banner. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
TEAK TOUGH: Mannion in action against the Banner. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It was either a sign of strength or a portent of All-Ireland final vulnerability against Limerick.

Galway hurlers accelerate straight from the starting gun and build up leads that vary between healthy and huge. Then Galway surrender the initiative and most, if not all, of their lead.

Then Galway's survival instincts kick in and they carry on to the next round.

Of course none of this is planned, but it's hard to ignore the trend. The Tribesmen led Waterford by 0-9 to 1-2 after 14 minutes of last year's All-Ireland final, yet trailed by a point three times in the third quarter.

Albeit already qualified, they led Dublin by seven points at half-time in the Leinster round-robin series back in June, then briefly found themselves behind.


Against Kilkenny in the Leinster final replay, they led by 1-9 to 0-1 after a 19-minute onslaught, only for their lead to shrink to a point after 54 minutes.

Now, twice against Clare, they have raced nine clear. It was 1-7 to 0-1 after 16 minutes of the drawn semi-final, only to be dragged to extra-time where they briefly trailed.

Then in Sunday's replay it was 1-9 to 0-3 after 21 minutes and but for the width of a post and Aron Shanagher's late goal miss they might have lost instead of winning by one.

However, Pádraic Mannion prefers to accentuate the positives in this trend; namely that, each time, Galway have hung tough in adversity.

"They (Clare) don't lie down and just hand it over - no team does at this stage," says the Galway No 5 and Hurler of the Year contender.

"Look, we had a good start to the game. You don't purposely go out and say we're going to play well in the first 10 minutes and then not play well after.

"Clare are a serious, serious outfit. They were always going to come back. We responded again and then at half-time we felt we had played well.

"In the second-half then, just conceding the two goals, as a defender it's a bit of a killer. But the lads up front responded again and got a few scores at vital times."

Mannion reiterates that Galway's lull periods are not a source of concern.

"When you're playing teams of that quality, they're not going to lie down for a full 70 minutes," he says. "If you have a good 10-minute spell, you can be guaranteed that they're going to come back strong as well. You have to be ready and try and ride your luck if they've a purple patch. Keep tipping away. Thankfully we did that."


Galway have until Sunday week to sort out the "bangs and bruises" after two savage battles with the Banner. But, given all their tight scrapes, is it a case of last year's winning experience standing to them?

"I'm not sure is it because of last year," Mannion demurs. "It's just that the players have matured as well. Every team knows that it can come down to the last two or three minutes at this stage, and you just have to keep going and keep going."

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