Galway's Conor Cooney keen to learn from serial winner Donaghy
St Thomas’ star says Kerry great can offer useful insight to Galway hurlers given his new backroom role
Conor Cooney: “He has played inside in the full-forward line, a prolific Kerry full-forward line that was always very capable of getting scores. I’m sure he can provide insights there.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Cooney said he is keen to listen to the outside perspective that Donaghy will bring, and he is happy to swap notes on full-forward play with the three-time All Star and four-time All-Ireland winner.
Cooney (26) is focused on club duties in the short term though, and, speaking at the St Thomas’ base in Castledaly ahead of the All-Ireland club hurling final with Ballyhale Shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day, he said he has already been in to listen to Donaghy address the county team.
“He’s a guy who brings huge experience from fantastic years that they had in Kerry,” said Cooney, who will captain St Thomas’ in the club final.
“I suppose it’s a great outside perspective, he maybe might see things in a different way. Sometimes to look at things from a different angle might be of benefit to you.
“He has played inside in the full-forward line, a prolific Kerry full-forward line that was always very capable of getting scores. I’m sure he can provide insights there.
“I have only met him and have only been in there once when he was there. He’s a good guy, he seems like good craic. He’s good with a group too and that’s another aspect he’ll bring too. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Cooney was part of the Galway team that claimed their first All-Ireland for 29 years with victory over Waterford in 2017. Defending the Liam MacCarthy Cup didn’t go as planned for Galway and they lost to Limerick in last year’s final, but Cooney is eager to get back for another crack at glory.
What influence Donaghy has on a sport he is not specialised in remains to be seen, but Cooney thinks his basketball career could play as big a part as football in what he has to offer to Donoghue’s hurlers.
“He has played a lot of basketball as well which is very interesting. You see it coming more and more into football tactics and I think it will probably come more and more into hurling tactics the way the game is being played.
“The way they set up defensively in basketball is interesting. It’s just that kind of perspective you look for. You can take points from any sport really.
“I mean, if you look at the way statistics are working, a lot of that has come from American sports. You can draw from rugby or any sport and apply it to hurling. I think it’s all about an outside perspective, a different voice and a different opinion that will help.”
Cooney says he is fit and ready to lead his club into the Croke Park decider, but St Thomas’ have been dealt a blow by Kenneth Burke’s absence.
The eldest of the six Burke brothers who played in the 2013 All-Ireland, Kenneth Burke had forced his way back into the starting side this season, but sustained a serious hamstring injury in their All-Ireland semi-final win over Cushendall, which will rule him out for several months.