‘We lost one game by a point and all of a sudden people are saying we need to change our whole panel’

GALWAY DEFENDER PÁDRAIC Mannion has challenged the theory that a lack of player rotation may have contributed to Galway losing their All-Ireland crown this year.

The Tribesmen relinquished their title to Limerick earlier this year on the back of a championship campaign where Galway seemed to make a habit of stuttering over the line.

They needed a replay to retain their Leinster SHC title against Kilkenny, while their All-Ireland semi-final against Clare went to extra-time and a replay before Galway progressed to the final.

There was very little change in the Galway teams that started the 2017 and 2018 All-Ireland finals, but Mannion dismisses the suggestion that this was a factor in their struggles.

“I don’t think so, there was a good few changes on the panel.

“It wasn’t the exact same panel from last year, so we had added young fresh blood into the panel, it just worked out that the majority of the team was the same.

There was nobody complaining about that when we won 13 or 14 games in-a-row. We lost one game by a point, and then all of a sudden, people are saying we need to change our whole panel.

“An awful lot of the season, an awful lot of our performances were very, very good, so I don’t think we need to go revamping everything that we’re doing.”

Remarking on the fatigue-factor, he added:

Pádraic Mannion in action for Galway in the 2018 All-Ireland final against Limerick.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We felt we were ready for the final and that we had prepared fairly well.

“Looking back, who knows? If we didn’t have a replay in the semi-final and had three weeks in, Limerick might have still beat us.

I’m not going to sit here making excuses and take it away from Limerick, they deserved to win it and fair play to them.”

On a personal level, 2018 was an exceptional season for Mannion. He was instrumental throughout the year from defence and even slotted into the sweeper role at times where he also excelled.

His performances have yielded another All-Star nomination as well as a spot in the short-list for the Hurler of the Year award.

He’s up against the reigning holder Joe Canning and Limerick’s midfield star Cian Lynch, but understandably, winning the gong would do very little to alleviate the pain of losing the All-Ireland final.

It’s a personal accolade but the All-Ireland final is different. We all play for medals really. It’s not something you aim for at the start of the year to get Player of the Year.
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“I don’t think there’s too many players that do that but it’d be something you look back on and be very proud of when you’ve hung up the boots and something you could tell the grandkids about.

Mannion in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Clare.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“There were some games where I’d be happy with my performance and some games you wouldn’t be. Even though you would be getting recognition and you think, ‘Jesus I actually made a lot of mistakes in that game.’

“But I suppose I’d be my own worst critic really so I suppose there’s no harm to have that either to keep your feet on the ground.”

Mannion returned to the club circuit with Ahascragh-Fohenagh following that All-Ireland disappointment and has also spent some time playing football with Caltra before the inter-county game comes calling again.

He stresses that Galway had no issue summoning the hunger to defend their All-Ireland crown this year, and they’ll be equally determined to reclaim the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2019.

“I suppose, with winning, we were nearly even hungrier the following year.

“A lot of lads had lost before between 2012 and 2015 and we’d come back very hungry the following years, so, I think it’s in our nature to be really competitive and every year you go out to go as far as you can in the championship.

I’m sure 2019 will be no different, not just for us but the eight or nine teams capable of winning it.”

Pádraic Mannion was speaking at the the Australian Embassy in Dublin to mark the departure of the Kilkenny and Galway teams, who fly to Australia to take part in a match for the Wild Geese Trophy as part of the Sydney Irish Fest on 10/11 November.

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