Former Young Hurler of the Year and Galway hurling captain David Collins says that all involved in the county know the importance of building on last year’s All-Ireland success.
Collins, who retired after the 2016 season after a 12 year inter-county career, thinks this team have developed a mental toughness rarely seen in any of the county’s hurling squads of the past.
There's also a sense in Galway that with excellent minor and under-21 teams coming through, all coaches and managers involved know how crucial it is to build on their success.
We have three teams taking part in the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge too and those players are all looking for a place on the Galway minor team.
That keeps the door open for them and leaves them hurling at a high level too.
It’s important for us now that we build on the success that we are after enjoying. There was a huge crowd at Pearse Stadium for the Kilkenny game last Sunday and you could see Salthill and the city come alive.
But we have to do the hard work ourselves. My own club, Liam Mellows, has huge numbers at underage level and we have taken on a full-time Games Development Officer, a role which we fund ourselves, to ensure that all the kids are being coached in their schools and when they come down to us at the weekends.
Galway City is a spot that needs to be constantly looked at. But there is a feeling now that the hard work is only starting – across all levels and grades in the county.
Collins feels the senior team are seriously intent on retain their provincial and All-Ireland senior hurling titles, and says that while teams of the past could be distracted at times, he cannot see Micheal Donoghue’s men relenting this season.
They are ultra-focused. There is a hard mental edge there.
Some of the teams I was on myself, well we had up days and down days, and maybe sometimes we got distracted. But I just can’t see the concentration levels of the current lads slipping. They are all fierce humble fellas, they are intent on winning.
I got the sense on Sunday in Pearse Stadium that they beat Kilkenny very mindful of all the hammerings Kilkenny dished out to us over the years.
They won’t lack for motivation and they won’t get soft with people slapping them on the back.
They will want to stay winning and from what I can see their conditioning has gone up a notch from last year.
Collins won a Galway senior hurling title with his club last Christmas but says it was hard to miss out on the county’s 2017 All-Ireland win.
It was very emotional
You’d be delighted for the lads, absolutely delighted, but having served for so long a part of you would have loved to have been there with them.
Not just me – the likes of Fergal Moore, Andy Smith and Iarla Tannian – I would loved to have seen them get a medal too.
But we have the bit between our teeth now. We have all the systems in place and Galway hurling is in a really good place. These lads, I expect they will drive on, and they will just look to stay winning game to game. They won’t look much further than that.