Gareth Bradshaw still enjoying Galway adventure
By Cian O'Connell
More than ever, Gareth Bradshaw instantly replies when asked about how much enjoyment is derived from wearing the maroon and white jersey.
Bradshaw has given a decade service to the Galway cause and is aware that these are particularly encouraging times.
A third Connacht Final in a row against Roscommon is exactly the type of arena Galway want to operate in, but Bradshaw, acknowledges the role Kevin Walsh has occupied in the Corribsiders development.
Kevin is a good man manager, we train hard, we work hard under him, Bradshaw says. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, it is a challenging environment.
That makes you a better player and it makes it more enjoyable. Kevin has changed his backroom team a little this year bringing in Paddy Tally and Keith Carr, they have all added to the set-up.
Reasons for optimism exist in Galway with Bradshaw highlighting the value of consistency and culture within the panel. I think when Kevin came in he definitely wanted to work on consistency in our performance, Bradshaw admits.
Even last year and two years ago, I know we didn't come out of Division Two, but we were quite a consistent team. This year we've come into Division One, game on game we have looked at our performances, analysed it, move on to be better for the next game. That is where we are at.
Between competition for places in the squad and playing consistently it has left us where we want to be coming into the summer. A couple of key points Kevin tried to nail when he came in and culture was one of them. He wanted the standards up and we have seen to our detriment in the years before that they weren't where they needed to be.
In the last four years any lad coming in is going to be learning right from the get go. It is a good environment to be successful and to make themselves a better player.
Changes have happened during Bradshaws career with the increased emphasis on tactics the most noticeable difference according to the Galway half back.
Eight to 10 years isn't too long a time, but the game has evolved, Bradshaw accepts. Tactically wise you have to be well set-up, you have to know your system inside out whether that is a Plan A or B or C.
The experienced Gareth Bradshaw is an important player for Galway.
You have to be really in tune with that, it isn't a matter of going out playing end to end football having shootouts with teams. That day is gone now, it is more a tactical approach, being competitive, and seeing where you are at then.
Progressive steps have been taken under Walshs stewardship. In 2016 Galway claimed Connacht glory, last year promotion was secured to Division One of the Allianz Football League where the Tribesmen contested a decider against Dublin in April.
The depth of the panel has increased significantly according to Bradshaw with Galway making five changes due to injury between the Mayo and Sligo Championship encounters.
There was no eye batted in our camp even though the likes of Paul Conroy, Ciaran Duggan, Eoghan Kerin when they weren't starting the last day, Bradshaw states.
You have players well equipped to come in, to do the job which they did the last day and it is going to make the selection of 26 never mind 15 very hard for Kevin the next day.
You can talk about consistency of performance, but when you have a lad breathing down your neck looking for your jersey it is going to egg you on that bit more, to perform that bit better. If you don't you know you aren't going to be playing the next day. That definitely has helped matters.
Bradshaw, such a capable performer in his underage days for Maigh Cuillinn, was always destined to graduate into the senior inter-county game, but has been joined by club colleagues David Wynne, Sean Kelly, and Peter Cooke recently.
Dessie Conneely, the Galway Under 20 corner forward, is another highly regarded prospect and Bradshaw acknowledges it is an exciting stint. I was training them lads back in summer camps when I was 20 so it is great to have them coming in, it really is, Bradshaw comments.
They are full of enthusiasm, full of legs, full of running which I may not be at 31 so it is great to have them younger lads.
"They are coming into a really good set-up from successful minor and Under 21 teams, but the structures are there now with Kevin's backroom team. There is definitely a platform for a successful couple of years for Galway.
Bradshaws guile and experience has assisted in that process. Next Sunday at Dr Hyde Park brings another challenge.