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EXCLUSIVE: "I'd be absolutely delighted for them but a slight bit jealous too I'm sure,” former Galway star David Collins on his emotions if Galway claim All-Ireland SHC title

 

 

WALKING away from the game you love is never easy and David Collins doesn't hide his struggles as Galway bid to break their 29-year wait for an All-Ireland SHC title without him against Waterford on Sunday.

 

For 13 years he soldiered with the Tribesmen as they flirted with Liam MacCarthy success but when you're time is up, there's no turning back and the former senior skipper has no regrets about his time in maroon and white.

 

It was his "lifelong dream" to climb the Hogan Stand steps on the first Sunday in September but with that ambition extinguished, the 33-year-old will put his full weight behind supporting the current crop, many of which he stays in regular contact with.

 

It's just over a year since his last Galway appearance, a late cameo as they fell narrowly to eventual champions Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final, and it's a strange position to be an outsider looking in as the county stands on the cusp of just their fifth All-Ireland crown.

 

"I do miss it," Collins says candidly. "I miss the intensity, I miss the competitiveness, the structure that it gives you. You lose a lot of discipline in terms of where you're going, what you're doing. When you're involved, you're so engrossed in hurling and that's one of the biggest issues at the moment that I see. 

 

"Everything revolves around it, you forget about your life, your family, your career and when you leave like I did you can be left with a hole or a void to fill, luckily I have the club and my job, which I lined up properly over the past two years because I knew my time was coming to an end.

 

"That's so important for players to realise that once it finishes, and it could finish at any time, it's crucial to have that there. It's not an easy transition period but you look back with fond memories and that's the one thing I'll always have."

 

 

The Liam Mellows clubman, who is

01 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (764)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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Ken McGrath breaks down the Galway and Waterford sides and gives his expert verdict on the All-Ireland SHC final

GOALKEEPER:

They are two very good keepers and Stephen O'Keeffe has been brilliant since coming on the scene. He stopped three bullets against Cork the first day and is probably underestimated but he never puts a foot wrong and is so cool under pressure.

Galway's Colm Callanan is an experienced keeper. He's brave and made up for an earlier mistake when he stopped Seamus Callanan at point-blank range in the semi-final and I see very little between this pair.

Advantage: No advantage

 

DEFENCE:

Darragh Fives was brilliant as sweeper the last day but Tadhg de Búrca will come back into the Waterford team with Darragh most likely picking up Joe Canning. Darragh is a serious player and has the potential to be as good as any player in the country if he can stay injury free.

Waterford's defence is hard to break down and they never waste a ball when they are playing it out from the back as they utilise the midfield a lot with short ball. They are trying the system the last three years and they now have it down to a tee.

Noel Connors is playing superb stuff and will probably be designated to pick up Conor Whelan but Conor Gleeson is a massive loss. He has done a marvellous job on every top forward in the country so far this year and it's hard not to feel sorry for him.

Gearóid McInerney is having a great season at centre-back for Galway holding the defence together with his ability in the air but Waterford might look to challenge his mobility by putting Austin Gleeson in directly on him centre-forward to move him around. 

Daithí Burke has been a revelation at full-back but with Aidan Harte playing sweeper, I'm not sure if Burke will stay at the edge of the square. Daithí might go marking and possibly pick up Pauric Mahony because Micheál Donoghue will be well aware that he cannot be left loose. 

While Galway have been playing with a sweeper a couple of times in this year's championship, Waterford are the best teammin the country at playing with seven defenders and playing that system so they have a small advantage in defence.

Advantage: Waterford

 

 

MIDFIELD:

Kevin Moran started a bit slow this year but he has gradually got his bearings right and delivered two huge performances in the last two games while Jamie Barron is the best midfielder in the country at the moment.

He took the Cork game by the scruff of the neck when it was still in the melting pot while he turned the tide against Kilkenny and set Waterford on to a famous win o

31 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (984)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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25 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (482)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: No rating
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This is the game, this Mayo team have beaten Dublin and Tyrone before but they've never been able to get over Kerry in the championship," former Mayo star Pat Fallon on Kerry vs Mayo

 

Twenty years have passed since Mayo's All-Ireland SFC final defeat to Kerry and Sam Maguire hasn't made the journey back to the west in the mean time but that still hasn't burned the flame lighting inside Pat Fallon and the former Mayo star sees a glorious opportunity knocking as they renew acquaintances with the Kingdom in Sunday's semi-final.

Fallon was a colossus throughout the 1997 campaign, earning an All-Star at midfield, but a Maurice Fitzgerald-inspired Kerry side proved too hot to handle in the final as they fell by three points, with the Cahirciveen forward clocking nine points in their 0-13 to 1-7 defeat.

The year previous Mayo recorded a rare semi-final victory over Kerry (before falling to Meath in an ill-tempered All-Ireland final replay) but amazingly, 21 years has elapsed without another championship win over the Kingdom.

That amounts to a lot of heartbreak but Fallon insists no amount of defeats can kill off Mayo's spirit and he's not one bit surprised that the current crop have made it all the way back to the last four, despite encountering much turbulence along the way.

"Nothing knocks the stuffing out of us and the lads have shown that as well, this team has a had a lot of knocks but we're fierce passionate about football and once the New Year starts, it's a new championship again and we don't linger too long on defeats," Fallon tells gaelicplayers.com.

"The lads that are playing now are competing on massive days and when you get to that and see the support that the Mayo fans have, the crowds that met us in Castlebar in '96 and '97, it just gives you great resolve to go and do it the next year, and the next year. 

"I don't think anyone that puts on a Mayo shirt ever looks back, maybe they'll look back with regret when they stop but while they're playing they're looking forward and seeing how they can get a little bit better, that's the driving force behind most footballers.

"Only one team every finishes the year on a high so if you're a county footballer in a team that's not winning a Connacht final regularly, how do you go back every year? If you're playing with Mayo and rated as one of the best in the country, you're only inches away and that's a great driver.

“The best sportspeople park what has happened and move onto the future. Roy Keane always said he remembers his disappointments more than his successes and the disappointment can drive you on further, it has definitely driven this Mayo squad further."

It's been a rocky road back to the semi-finals but Stephen Rochford's side are exactly where they planned to be at the start of the year and Balla clubman Fallon believes victory at the weekend could signal something special.

It's 66 years since Mayo last lifted All-Ireland SFC honours and Fallon feels their time time is now. "This is the game, if they can get over this they'll have huge belief going into an All-Ireland final," he says. 

"They've beaten Dublin and Tyrone before but this group hasn't beaten Kerry in the championship.

17 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (798)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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EXCLUSIVE: Former Armagh captain Ciarán McKeever opens up on Kieran McGeeney, his hopes for Armagh’s future and what's next for him

 

After idolising Kieran McGeeney growing up and later becoming good friends with the Armagh legend, it was only fitting that 'Geezer' was the man at the helm when Ciarán McKeever brought the curtain down on his 14-year Orchard football career.

 

McKeever describes the "surreal" experience of joining the Armagh squad for the first time in 2003, just months after their first, and only, All-Ireland SFC title win with greats like McGeeney, Steven McDonnell and Paul McGrane steering the ship.

 

They say you should never meet your heroes but McKeever begs to differ. His footballing idols shaped his education and a familiar face would be the first to welcome him to the fold when he commenced training with the newly crowned Sam Maguire winners.

 

"Being a defender, Kieran McGeeney was always one of the players I looked up to and admired. When I first went in he was one of the first players to come over and introduce himself to me," McKeever tells gaelicplayers.com when reflecting on the start of his inter-county career. 

 

"I was probably one of the players that followed him around and wanted to learn off him, we generated a great bond and a great friendship from there on. He took me underneath his wing and I learned an awful lot from him.

 

"He helped to develop what it meant to play for Armagh and there was no better man to learn that from, everything he does is for the betterment of Armagh football. Even when he was with Kildare, I would've picked his brain a lot.

 

"He'd help me with my own game and how to develop things, he never once shied away from it. He always wanted to help things for the better and I'm glad my inter-county career has ended under his watch. I started my career with him and I finished it with him too." 

 

There was always an aura about McGeeney, who famously spent €30 on fruit every second as he sought an edge as a player, but during one of many stays with the 2002 All-Ireland-winning captain in his Dublin base, McKeever saw a different side of him.

 

16 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (2292)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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