Eoghan Kerin and Galway not taking anything for granted
Tribesmen hopeful of a good year but defender unwilling to look beyond Sligo clash
Galway’s Eoghan Kerin celebrates with team-mates after the Connacht quarter-final victory over Mayo at McHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
One down, one to go.
“I know it’s the cliché and you’ll probably hate hearing this but it is game-on-game,” says Eoghan Kerin, the Galway defender politely declining to talk about anything beyond Sunday’s Connacht semi-final against Sligo. Except maybe for the Super-8s.
“We probably do see ourselves as a top-eight team and we would be very disappointed if we don’t get to the Super-8s. Obviously, we’re not looking past the Sligo game but you’d like to think you can compete in the top four, and we proved that during the league. But you’d like to see yourselves going onto bigger and better things past the Super 8s.”
Kerin’s tempered confidence is well founded. The 24-year-old from Annaghdown, in his third season on the Galway team, has become one of the cornerstones of Galway’s strong defence this season, but there’s also the reminder of what happened last summer. After taking out Mayo in the Connacht semi-final, Roscommon handed them a bit of a lesson in the final.
“Any time that you get over Mayo is a sweet one,” he says.
“And we are lucky, fortunate enough in the last three occasions, to get over them. When we looked back on the game ourselves, we realised that we didn’t play overly well. We were actually disappointed with our performance.
“I suppose it was one of those days when you are playing the local rivals, and you are just trying to get over the line in any way you can. And it was tit-for-tat until Johnny Heaney got us over the line in the last couple of minutes.
“So even if you take last year as an example, we got a good win against Mayo in the Connacht championship but then we were dumped out by Roscommon in the Connacht final and similarly against Kerry.
“And then you see Mayo go on to bigger and better things, pushing the Dubs to within a kick of the ball in the All-Ireland final; it is not really about the one-off game against the local rivals. In the broader scheme of things, they have gone on to nearly win an All-Ireland title and we have been dumped out in the quarter-final.
“So really, it is nearly an anti-climax after the last game. For a few minutes, you savour it but then you realise that it is really back to the drawing board again. To put it into perspective, it is a Connacht quarter-final at the end of the day and you are no closer to winning an All-Ireland.”
Kerin made his championship debut against Mayo in 2016, unheralded, by his own admission: “We were coming in for a trial, just because we were on the Galway U-21s the year before but there wasn’t a lot expected of us. We were just brought in, to see if we could make the step up. Myself and Johnny Heaney were in the same position.
“And believe it or not, I started off as a forward. Started in the forwards. The only line that I haven’t played in now is goals but I think Ruairí Lavelle has that tied down for the minute, so I will leave it to him.
“Funnily enough, I was kind of bigger when I was under-12 and under-14, don’t think I have grown since, so I was moved back the lines. It was actually my first year in college when I started playing corner-back, so I was only 18 or 19. I think at the time it was because someone was fast and I was told that I had to run after him, so that is where it stemmed from.”
His Annaghdown club mate, Damien Comer, was actually smaller when they began playing together, seemingly better suited for the defence.
“Yeah, he was the smaller lad, throwing his head in everywhere. The tables are turned now. Damien would have been playing wing-back and wing-forward growing up, because he was of a smaller stature. You would know looking at him, he was always a smaller lad who had no fear. And now, he is a much bigger guy and he still has no fear.”
There were 20 places between the counties in the league, Galway beat Sligo in 2014, although Sligo won two and drew one of the three championship clashes with Galway in 2010 (draw and replay) and 2012.