THE ATMOSPHERE is at fever pitch in Galway, but for captain Fergal Moore the hype won’t take the Tribesmen’s eyes off the prize.
“It’s different for us to have this, but you’d expect nothing less when a team is in an All-Ireland final,” he said. “As players your job is to play.
“The most pressure to perform is from ourselves not from outside,” he added. “Our focus has to be on the 70 minutes on September 9; everything else is immaterial to that.”
Focus is one thing Galway have had in spades this year. They have set out to do a job - win the All-Ireland - which has carried them to Croker.
“We’ve had great focus and drive, but that’s only brought us so far in the championship - it won’t do us for the next day,” he warned.
“Kilkenny have a huge pedigree when it comes to All-Ireland finals and their experience there will be of great benefit. Any of the games that went before won’t have any influence on the outcome of the final. We have to be ready to play one hell of a 70-minute encounter, where only the best team will come out on top.”
Galway made people sit up and take notice with their performance against Kilkenny in the Leinster final. It might have surprised many, but not Moore.
“Not at all,” he said. “Looking back on the game we hurled very, very well in the first half. Kilkenny were missing a few players and underperformed on the day, while a couple of balls broke our way - ones that usually don’t - and helped us grab a few goals to pull away.
“We were well aware that we had more to do if we wanted to win an All-Ireland,” he reviewed. “Even from the day after that game we knew we weren’t the finished article. We lost the second half of the Leinster final, something we were hugely disappointed with - we didn’t drive on and finish the game.”
It’s that talk which highlights Galway’s will to win, something they retained even after winning the Leinster title.
“We celebrated after the Leinster final - it was an historic occasion to win the Leinster title - but everybody got back down to work the following day,” the captain said. “We stepped up training on the Tuesday night because we had to. The championship wasn’t over; the Liam McCarthy Cup wasn’t handed out that day.
“With the greatest respect to the competition, nobody trains just to win the Bob O’Keeffe Cup,” he added. “The Liam McCarthy is the target. That’s the one we want. That’s what we’re focussed on.”
Playing in Leinster over the last few years has been a boost, he admitted. Days of Galway coming in cold have been replaced by the heat of battle at an earlier stage.
“It’s been hugely beneficial to us,” he said of the move into the province. “All that the Galway players wanted was to be on a level pegging with other teams and start the championship at the same time.
“It was very difficult with the old system,” continued Moore. “You might come into the championship in July against teams who have a couple of games under their belt while you’re coming in trying to get up to championship intensity and it’s your first day out. Often we were beaten at half-time, or by the stage we got to the pitch of the game’s tempo it was too late.
“The new system gets us big matches in the big stadia earlier in the year,” the captain said. “That can only be beneficial for the team.”