‘I said it from day one, it is about winning the All-Ireland’ – Padraic Joyce relishing Galway’s final clash

Padraic Joyce has never hid his ambition. From the moment he was appointed Galway manager, he said he wanted to guide them to an All-Ireland title.

ow they are one win away from securing the Sam Maguire for the first time since 2001 when he was the on-field general.

“I said it from day one when I got the job, it is about winning the All-Ireland. It has taken us three years to get here. We’re here now so we are definitely going to make the most of it,” said Joyce.

The Galway boss has found a worthy on-field successor in Damien Comer, whose two second-half goals ultimately decided a game which won’t live long in the memories of the neutral fans.

The Hawkeye scoring detection system competed with Comer to grab the headlines. It malfunctioned at the end of the first half when signalling that a 45 from Shane Walsh was wide even though the TV footage proved the ball went between the posts.

The score was restored at half time and the system wasn’t used in the second half. Ultimately it made no difference as the Connacht champions dominated the second half.

The GAA later announced that the Hawkeye will not be used for the second semi-final between Dublin and Kerry.

Joyce described Comer’s second goal, when he availed of Odhran Lynch’s wandering to score from distance, as ‘a great finish’

“People might say he hadn’t much to do, but Derry are obviously pushing trying to get a score and we caught them on the counter.

“Damien finished it well from 35, 40 yards. But all through, he was very, very good for us. That’s what you want; in big games, your leaders like Damien (Comer), Shane (Walsh) and Paul (Conroy) and Sean Kelly to stand up. They were excellent.”

He admitted that Galway were perceived as having what he described as a ‘soft belly’

“Until we go actually and win these big games in Croke Park that tag is going to follow you around. So, after winning against Armagh, and the way we won it, being six up, letting them back into it, and the row, normally we might have folded a bit. But we took a lot of solace from that.

“We have to become a team that performs in Croke Park day in day out, and I think we have done it to a degree this year, so if we keep doing that all the time, people might start talking a bit more freely about us.”

Joyce suggested that maybe technology is human as well after the controversy over the Walsh score.

“At the time the kick was taken, I thought it was over the bar. I couldn’t believe it. They came in and rectified it. Technology is human too, maybe.”

Walsh’s three second half frees were crucial kicks according to the manager

“They were very important. When you go in at half-time level, you want to get the first score because the first score of the second half is a two-point swing, you either go one up or one behind.

“In fairness to Shane, they were difficult frees on his left foot, but he struck them really, really well. He hasn’t missed a free for us all year, believe it or not. They were pressure kicks. We got the goal then which I thought was the key turning point in it.”

“We were beaten by a better team, no doubt about that,” acknowledged Derry boss Rory Gallagher.

“I thought we were very good early on and controlled a lot of the first twenty minutes. We would like to have been more ahead than we were. And we were probably very disappointed to be level at half time, albeit Galway had turned the direction of the game and were starting to get the measure of us.

“We are disappointed I suppose at the fact that we left a few chances behind us under not that much pressure and also with the amount of ball we had in the first half that we didn’t put up more of a score.

“It was a massive jump and the prize at stake is phenomenal. No doubt about that. It is probably easy to say it was just the stage but ultimately, we didn’t do it whatever the reason. It is very hard to pin it on it,” said Gallagher who said the Derry players felt that Walsh 45 had gone over the bar.

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