All-Ireland semi-final brings a further test of Galbally progress says Rafferty
THREE years of development and experience have made all the difference to a Galbally team moving steadily towards peak performance, according to Liam Rafferty.
Defeat in the 2019 Ulster Club IFC final represented a painful leg of the journey, but they made no mistake with a second opportunity, and last month's provincial triumph broke new ground for a progressive club.
Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final against Galway's Dunmore McHale's brings another test of the progress made by the Pearses.
“We were a good talented team in 2019, but we were very young back then, and we did well to get to that stage,” said centre forward Rafferty.
“Now with that couple of years of senior football and a good run in the championship this year, I feel that we're getting better with every game.
“We have more experience, we're keeping the ball well, we're learning how to break down teams.”
A group of talented footballers have come through the underage ranks together, and with the core of the team now in their mid-20s, the potential is immense.
“We have a serious squad there. The 15 lads who start are excellent, quality players, and then you have five lads to bring in.
“There's great competitiveness within the squad, and training has been of a really high standard, and that has really helped.
“We have had a good injection of youth as well, which has brought lads on as well.”
Manager Paddy Crozier and his assistant Joe McMahon have brought the best out of a well balanced team, tailoring each performance to target the strengths, weaknesses and strategy of every individual opponent.
“The work those men do behind the scenes is unbelievable, and they feed that back to us.”
The attention to detail was never more evident than in the Ulster final, when Galbally were able to break Corduff's defensive resistance, thanks to the plan set in place by the management.
“That's what we had been planning for, that's what we saw them doing against other teams, and we trained for that.
“We knew what they were going to bring, and I thought we dealt with that very well, we kept our discipline.
“In all their previous games, they have had a man in the other team sent off, so if we were able to keep our 15 men on the field, that was going to be a big bonus for us.
“Our preparation was unbelievable going into that game. We knew absolutely everything about Corduff, about their players, about what they were going to bring.
“We trained for the way we expected them to play, and luckily it worked out well for us.
“We were very well prepared going into that game, and it's a credit to the management.
“We knew what Corduff were going to throw at us, and we dealt with it very well.”
A first Ulster title marked a major breakthrough for the club, but Rafferty senses that the supporters are hungry for more, and he's confident that the ambition of the players will drive them to new heights.
“Of course you don't want to stop. The next trophy is an All-Ireland, and it would be lovely to say that you're an All-Ireland champion. That's the stuff of dreams, to do that playing for your club.”