Moore says Galway are still ‘a little behind’ but looking forward to challenge of Kilkenny
Cornerback admits massive contrast to where they were a year ago
Galway's Fergal Moore (right) with Eoin Larkin of Kilkenny. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Given where they ended up this time 12 months ago it seems a little contradictory for Fergal Moore to claim Galway are “still a bit behind last year”, although, either way, it may still be too soon to tell.
What the Galway captain is clear about is the importance of making the semi-finals of the Allianz Hurling League: Galway have three weeks to prepare for their latest showdown against Kilkenny – the sixth meeting between the teams in the last 12 months – and Moore is bang on when suggesting that’s a game to look forward to.
Yet rewind to April 1st, 2012, and the record shows Galway at the receiving end of one of their biggest league defeats ever. On a more tasty spring day in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny hit them with 3-12 to 0-6 – in the first 35 minutes – and finished up 25-point winners. With that Galway went into the relegation play-off against Dublin, which, against all expectations, proved the springboard for their fine season.
Now, they’re still in the hunt for the hurling league title, and perhaps more importantly, afforded another high-quality game which Galway badly needed, as proved by their all-out effort to beat Waterford in Walsh Park on Sunday. Galway aren’t out in the Leinster championship until the semi-finals, on June 16th, and won’t face any truly stern test until the Leinster final, on July 7th, where they’re likely to face Kilkenny again.
“That really is why it was so important for us to make the semi-finals,” says Moore. “But also to get back into the winning habit. I wouldn’t say we’ve been happy with our form in the league, but certainly delighted to get the last two points against Waterford on Sunday. It’s a sign too of how very competitive the league has been.”
It would appear Galway are well ahead of this time last year, and yet Moore still suggests otherwise: “Yes, this time last year we were headed for that relegation play-off, and always felt this season it was important for us to progress again, take that next step, get to the semi-finals.
“In one sense we shouldn’t have been in that position, but the positive thing is we were still able to come through. So I think we are developing. But we’ve a long way to go, yet. This is the time of the season when all the focus switches to the hurling, that all the hard training is done. And I’d say we’re still a bit behind last year, so we’re just focused on where we need to be.”
Whatever about the exact nature of Galway’s progress, they might well have preferred a less familiar test than Kilkenny, even though they did beat them in the first round of the league, 3-11 to 0-17, back on February 23rd.
“Not at all,” says Moore. “We always knew whoever we met in the semi-finals was going to be a huge challenge, and we’re just looking forward to the game now. For us it was all about getting into those semi-finals. It’s another game, a big knockout. They’ll be a huge challenge, always are.”