It's not until you actually sit back and look at the history of Galway GAA that you realise how much of an impact Cyril Farrell has had on their hurling success.
Pick any All-Ireland winning Galway team within the last 100 years, at senior, minor or U21 level, and there's a good chance Cyril Farrell was managing that team. Three All-Ireland senior championships in the '80s and two national leagues. In the middle of winning these he took some time out to go and win two u21 All-Ireland titles and another one at minor level. If Galway did deity like the Greeks, there is no doubt that Farrell would be the God of Hurling.
He is not just a master but also a prophet. This time last year he was claiming Galway were favourites in his eyes for the All-Ireland. Some scoffed at him but who was proved right? Speaking to us on the second episode of our Champions podcast, brought to you by Subaru, Farrell explained when he had no qualms about making such lofty claims coming into last year's championship:
People were saying "Why are you saying we're favourites?..." "Oh God look at the pressure." That's no pressure. We're favourites because we're the best team in it and we have the potential to win it. That doesn't mean we're going to win it but if we get our act together we have the pieces. Like a jigsaw, just put them together.
Farrell spoke about how his first mission when he took over the Galway seniors in 1980 was to instil that attitude in the players. It's also something he firmly stands by in all walks of life: 'You have to do that and I think it's a thing in life as well. Again, you know, a lot of counties west of the Shannon, we're a bit slow to do that. I'm not saying about being arrogant but I am saying about having belief in what we're capable of doing.'
This year he believes Galway's destiny is in their own hands. 'Some of the team would be saying "Aww don't be putting pressure on me." That's no pressure lads. If you're good enough, you're good enough and you are good enough. Don't be trying to dodge the bullet.'
Their All-Ireland win last September was the first they've won without Farrell at the helm since 1923. For the first occasion in his lifetime he was able to sit back and enjoy an All-Ireland as a fan:
Winning was, would you believe, a feeling of relief. And even the night in the Citywest, the minors were jumping around the place but with the seniors it was just relief.
The feeling since that has been unbelievable. There's a great feeling of good will in the county. And not alone in the hurling; when you win the All-Ireland if gives a lift to every kind of person, the young and the old.
More than anything, he's proud of the behaviour of the players and what they've done since:
They've all stepped up to the plate and they've behaved the way you want them to behave, as leaders, not sticking their heads up their backsides but as real leaders and ambassadors for the young fellas to look up to and treating people properly.
They've done a lot of great work off the field and I think it's matured them and they realise now that it's ok, while people say "All-Ireland's don't chnage your life," it does. It changes your inner belief and you can give so much satisifaction to other people. The satisfaction you get yourself is that you win your medal and maybe you might put it up on the wall or you might only put it under the bed, it's just the thing of winning it but I think they only realise when it's won how much it's mean to every kind of young and old in Galway and around the diaspora.
The ghost of the 1980s have been finally set to rest, 'We're gone, these are the new heroes. And if they're around for a few more years or win one more maybe someone else will come. That's really what your hoping, that the legacy will drive on the next generation.'
Listen to the full podcast below: