Galway young gun Cathal Mannion admits the county have failed to push on since reaching the 2012 All-Ireland final but he remains confident they can match anyone on their day.
The Tribesmen face Dublin in a Leinster SHC quarter-final at Croke Park on Sunday, with Mannion particularly keen to atone for last year’s qualifier exit to Tipperary.
“I think it hurt everyone,” he told RTÉ Sport. “We were six points up with a few minutes to go and we let it slip. It shouldn’t have happened, but hopefully it’ll improve us for this year.
“We should have slowed down the game and tried to tag on a score or two. They scored something like 1-06 without reply. They just pulled away from us and we were unable to stop them. Hopefully we won’t let that happen again.
“We know we’re not too far away from any team. Tipp and Kilkenny beat us last year and we definitely should have beaten Tipperary. We know we’re not too far away but it’s just small margins.”
Mannion, who made his debut against the Dubs in the Allianz Hurling league last year, believes regaining the Leinster crown Galway won for the first time in 2012 could be the springboard to an All-Ireland tilt.
“We know where we have to get to now. The mark is set there" - Cathal Mannion
“It [winning Leinster] would be massive. It would set you up for the year. But we have such a big game in the quarter-final. Ourselves and Dublin don’t want to be in the qualifiers so we can’t look past that.
“They’re very impressive. We saw during parts of the league this year... their first game against Tipp when they wiped them off the pitch. We’ll have to be ready for it.
“We’d be hoping to get to the heights of 2012 again. 2013 and 2014 were very disappointing. We were off the pace but everyone is training hard and everyone is looking forward to the Dublin game. Hopefully we can bring good intensity and get the right side of the result.”
Galway had a disappointing conclusion to the Allianz Hurling League, exiting meekly at the quarter-final stage to eventual champions Waterford, but U-21 forward Mannion believes they have progressed since that defeat.
“We’d prefer to have gotten further in the league, to get more competitive games,” he said. “But we went back training, trained hard and played a few rounds with the club. It’s going okay.
“We didn’t expect to go out the way we did. Waterford went on to win it and they were very impressive.
“We know where we have to get to now. The mark is set there. We were a long way off it on the day, but hopefully we can rectify it on Sunday.”