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Forget About Joe Brolly's 'Surfer Dudes, Modern Trad Lovers', Galway Football Has Changed

Forget About Joe Brolly's 'Surfer Dudes, Modern Trad Lovers', Galway Football Has Changed
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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"Galway, you get the impression from them over the last few years, you know, surfer dudes, modern trad lovers. Not taking their football terribly seriously," Joe Brolly said on RTÉ ahead of the 2015 Connacht semi-final between the Tribesmen and Mayo.

It was a cutting line from Brolly, one of his most memorable. A year earlier - following an All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kerry - he had compared the Galway footballers to a Rose of Tralee contestant saying that she wanted to bring about world peace. He had the impression that as with the Rose, Galway's heart wasn't really in it.

Brolly did admit back in 2015 that prospects were beginning to change for Galway under Kevin Walsh. Their defence was less porous. Walsh has since installed a watertight membrane.

Galway's backline was one of the toughest to breach in this year's Allianz Football League. They conceded three points fewer per game in this year's league than they did last. That is despite stepping up the league ladder and facing the far more potent attacks of Division One. Only Monaghan earlier this month managed to raise the green flag against Walsh's side.

That has followed a sense that football is being taken far more seriously by the group. A desire to improve and a culture which facilitates it have both developed. They might not bring about world peace but there could be a ceasefire on barbs from Brolly.

"Players now, we'd never look to the management to motivate us. If you're looking for that, you're chasing a dead end," Galway's Shane Walsh told Balls ahead of this weekend's Allianz Football League Division One final against Dublin on Sunday.

"It's all about what's inside the group. They can only do so much but once we cross the white line, it's the players that are going on the pitch - the 26, the 33 - especially with the panel we have at the moment, it's really trying to push the boat out in terms of what we can get.


"There's a really good culture there at the moment, everyone's buying into what we're doing, everyone's trying to feed into it, get as much out of ourselves.

"There's no better thing than players challenging each other [rather] than having a manager trying to challenge you. If you're looking for a manager [to motivate you], straight away something goes wrong on the day, you're looking to the sideline. Really, we're controlling what's going on out on the pitch.

"I think that shows you that we're learning that side of things as well; lads are adapting to that kind of style - if something happens on the day, if we concede a couple of scores on the trot, [we're thinking] what's our next move.


"That's probably the biggest thing: players are motivating each other."


The centre-forward says that structure has been put in place by his manager. Young players coming through from the under-21s like Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh, Peter Cooke and Sean Kelly have all bought into it. "You'd say Sean Andy Kelly has been full-back for years. It's great to have that in place that players are coming in and they're able to adapt. It puts that bit more solid approach to things."

This year's further improvements in defence have been attributed by many to the addition of Paddy Tally to the backroom team.


Tally was previously involved with the Tyrone footballers - he was their trainer in 2003 when the county won its first senior All-Ireland title. Tally has since been part of the Down set-up which reached the 2010 All-Ireland final and also managed the St. Mary's Belfast side which caused an upset against UCD in last year's Sigerson Cup final.

"To be honest, it's a funny one because you do hear that a bit - they're all asked about,'Who is this Tally lad?'" said Shane Walsh of the Tyrone man.

Paddy is a sound fella, really and truly, he's adding a different voice in the dressing room. It's as much about trying to understand the Northern accent as anything else.

Paddy just brings that other aspect, his own individual aspect to our set up. He's not from around Galway so you couldn't say he's a traditionalist in the way he sets up. He brings his own approach to things. He brings his own knowledge. He's a lecturer, so he's a smart man too.

Walsh doesn't count Tally as being the only reason for Galway's progress. Their strength and conditioning programme has also helped. "Keith and Ronan, they've done just as much good work as Paddy has in getting up prepared for these games. Obviously, you need to be physically prepared as well as psychologically in our set-up. "

Paddy Tally


In the drawn game against Dublin earlier this month, Padraic Joyce - who was on commentary for Radio One - expressed his annoyance with some cynical play after Dublin took the lead late in the game. Galway players were dragged down by their opponents as they awaited a kick-out.


Walsh says that moment didn't faze him or his teammates - another sign of growing maturity and willingness to take responsibility for their circumstances.

"When Dublin got in front, we were just straight away hoping to try and get another chance to get a score - that's all we can control.

"We created the opportunity, a bit of quick thinking. In fairness to Johnny [Heaney], he kicked it against a gale - which is always going in Pearse Stadium.

"That was the big thing for us as a group, we can only control what we do. We can't control whatever Dublin want to do. It's the same with Dublin's performance, we can't control how Dublin are going to perform the next day, we can only control our own performances."

The 2018 Allianz Football League Division 1 Final takes place at Croke Park this Sunday April 1st. In attendance at a photocall ahead of the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final is Shane Walsh of Galway, left, and John Small of Dublin, at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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