Gary O’Donnell Looks Ahead To 2019 All-Ireland Football Championship

Tuam Stars And Galway Footballer Gary O'Donnell

Tuam Stars and Galway Footballer Gary O’Donnell was present at today’s AIB launch of the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Gary also took the time to answer a few questions about Galway’s Chances this year…

Q: You’re already up and running in the championship. Beating London was the start you wanted, if not the performance?

A: Going over to London, everyone knows they’ve been building over the last few summers and we knew going over it was going to be a big challenge for us. We probably didn’t perform as well as we wanted on the day. 
But credit to London, they played well, created a lot of chances and stayed in the game as long as they could and there’s plenty for us to work on ahead of the Sligo game.

Q: Was that the game you wanted actually, to blow off the cobwebs and get rid of any complacency?

A: The nature of the Championship in May is like that so it’s probably no harm for some of us, especially when we have so many new faces, to have a small bit of a reality check. But at the same time we know where we are at the moment.
We were happy enough with our league campaign considering we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to. At the same time we’ve a lot of players coming back and bringing competition for places. We know we’ve a fair bit of work to do.

Q: You’ve had a few good summers and got Galway back in contention. What’s been the most encouraging aspect?

A: The big positive is where we came from.
We weren’t competing in Connacht but then won a couple in the last three years and were in another final too. We reached an All-Ireland semi-final and a national league final so that’s big targets met there. But at the same time we feel there’s plenty left in the tank yet. The age profile of the panel is ideal at the moment so we’re heading in the right direction.

Q: What exactly do you feel is still in the tank?

A: We could get our scoring a bit higher. We’ve worked a lot on our defence which has been evident in recent years when we were difficult to beat. That’s credit to the management in fairness, they’ve come in and set us up well. It mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea at times, but you cut your cloth to measure at times. We feel defensively and offensively we can still improve and definitely we could increase our scoring on an average day.

Q: Is the criticism of Galway as overly defensive a bit unfair?

A: I think it is.
There’s a lot of teams that came before us that played a certain style of football and there wasn’t as much criticism. I remember years back we were playing a brilliant style of football but getting pasted by a couple of teams and getting the exact same criticism so sometimes you just can’t win. In all sports and in all teams, it’s all about winning so you learn to take that on the chin and do whatever it takes to get over the line.

Q: Galway certainly appear to have the players and talent to become more dangerous in attack. Is the balance coming?

A: The proof will come this summer. We’re hoping to make the latter stages of the championship and hopefully, up against the big teams and even along the way, we’ll see how we measure up.
We really won’t know until then but we’re doing a lot of work in training. A lot of time and preparation has gone into it and you don’t really know until you get into the thick of the championship.

Q: You reached an All-Ireland semi-final last year v Dublin? What do recall and learn from that?

A: I recall getting a goal early on and going a couple of points up and then immediately after we intercepted a kick-out one-on-one, missed it and then missed a penalty. The first half was there for us. We went in two points down after all that and were very disappointed at that stage. 

The first 15 minutes of the second half was the same. We were well in the game but just didn’t capitalise on it. I don’t think we scored for 17 or 20 minutes and you’re not going to win games at that level, especially against Dublin, like that. So we know exactly what went wrong and know what we have to work on it.

Q: Sligo up next. They mightn’t have had a great league but their scoring was decent and they can always lift it for championship?

A: Absolutely. We’re well used to Sligo. Kevin was there for a couple of years and they put one over on us before when he was in charge of them. They’re very stiff opposition up in Markievicz. Anytime you play them up there it’s never easy. We saw the results over last weekend – a lot of underdogs came out on top. So we’re forewarned. It was the same against London. 
I know it’s a cliché at times but you’re going over there to do a job and you can never prepare yourself enough for the team who is up for you, especially at this time of the year. We need to be really, really prepared for this.
Markievicz is a really compact ground and a difficult place to play, especially if there’s a big crowd at it. We actually haven’t played up there much in the last few years. Regardless of where you play though you have to just adapt to the conditions.

Pictured is Tuam Stars and Galway footballer Gary O’Donnell at AIB’s launch of the 2019 Senior Football Championship. Entering into their fifth season sponsoring the county championship and now in their 28th year sponsoring the club championships, AIB champion the belief that ‘Club Fuels County’.
For the second year, AIB are bringing back their retro style video game, The Toughest Journey, that brings this belief to life by taking the player from Club to County, embarking on the journey to the All-Ireland Final.
For exclusive content and to see why AIB is backing Club and County follow us @AIB_GAA on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and and to play the game visit