Mighty Moore determined to make most of second chance
GAELIC GAMES:Galway went up to Dublin to claim the Liam MacCarthy Cup and will not be satisfied until they bring it home. But their captain knows Kilkenny will not hand the trophy over easily, writes KEITH DUGGAN
IT WAS the last place they expected to find themselves on the Sunday night of the All-Ireland final – heading down the motorway to Galway, half asleep and happy. For Galway captain Fergal Moore, the hours after the riveting drawn hurling final took them to a strange place.
“The feeling was hunger, first of all,” the Turloughmore man laughed at the last Galway press briefing of the year when asked about what his feeling was that evening. Moore was talking on a wintry Ballinasloe evening and the baleful weather emphasised just how long this All-Ireland hurling championship is stretching.
“We didn’t sit down until ten o’clock. But we were relieved to get home, first of all. And everyone was just delighted to get home and sleep in their own bed.
“So after the match we had a lovely meal in the Regency and mingled with the fans for a while and then got back home.
“There is a lot of goodwill for this team in Galway this year and we appreciate that. But we went up to win the All-Ireland. We drew it and we bought ourselves another chance to win it now.”
Moore is the perfect choice as Galway captain. It isn’t just because of the excellent sweeping play with which he settled into
the frantic opening period of the drawn game; it is the calmness with which he reinforces the Galway message.
Anthony Cunningham has been pragmatic and cool throughout Galway’s impressive summer run and Moore has much the same temperament, talking through the importance of methodology and routine in Galway’s preparation.
For instance, they chose to travel to Dublin on the morning of the final as that had been their habit all summer. Moore sat beside Niall Healy and they chatted and listened to music.
They knew exactly what they would face in terms of the pre-match ceremonies and had timed their warm-up accordingly. And when the whistle went, it was the All-Ireland final novices who settled faster. But even when things were swinging for Galway, Moore expected a big response from Kilkenny at some stage.
“As a team we hit the ground running. Eleven of our team had never played in an All-Ireland final before. You are playing the All-Ireland champions on the biggest day of the year – I think they have been in 13 of the last 15 All-Ireland finals and have won eight – so you know they will have a purple patch in the match. It is how you deal with that and recover from it that makes your mark on the team.
“So you are focusing on the next ball and hoping your forwards will get on the ball and tap over a score. We got a big goal from Niall Burke and then got the free at the end. It was my first All-Ireland so it is hard to compare but I was very tired and we were relieved to get the draw.
“I think we were just excited to be looking forward to an All-Ireland final replay was the overriding emotion on the Monday afterwards.”
Moore was one of the players on the Galway goal line when Henry Shefflin lined up to strike his penalty and maintains a strictly neutral view on whether the Kilkenny captain might have gone low with the strike rather than opting for the point.
“I don’t know. I was just focusing on the ball. A lot has been said and written since about whether he should have gone for one or the other and the fact is he took the point, it was a draw and we have another game. Myself and Tony Óg were on the line. But it is in the past now.”
He is equally uninterested in the fact this Galway team has managed to do something that has eluded all maroon teams since 1988 – go to an All-Ireland final and not lose.
“The squad that is hurling now is the Galway hurling squad 2012. Anything that any team has done before it or any the team of 2013 will do has no relevance. This year, we made a pact that we would fight for every ball until the final whistle and that was the most encouraging thing – nobody gave up and thankfully we got the free late on and all credit to Joe (Canning), he nailed it.”
And with that equaliser by Canning, Galway were back at square one – on the bus heading towards midnight and thinking about an All-Ireland final yet to be played.
“After any game you are sore and tired. We were well able to sleep. We had been on the go since seven or eight in the morning when we left Galway. We had a day or two booked off and you need that to get the body recovered. I work as a physiotherapist in the regional hospital and was back to work on the Wednesday.
Since then Galway have analysed the strengths and weaknesses of their performance. They spent the first week in recovery and the second week in full training.
This week, they are back in preparatory mode.
“I think it will be more of the same,” Moore predicts of the replay. “There is a huge prize at stake and what the draw brought us was another chance at an All-Ireland final.
“We are still playing the All-Ireland champions; it is still a 50-50 game. We are still up against it – they are odds-on favourites so it is all on the day, who gets the best performance out of themselves. So it will be hell for leather on the 30th and whoever plays the best will win.”