Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Inside Track

A sporting season riddled with some highs and lows

John McIntyre

Published

on

Galway hurler Cathal Mannion who had a memorable season in the maroon jersey in 2015.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHAT was the sporting year of 2015 like for you? On a personal level, there were some highs and lows, while the same could be said in a Galway context. Here are some events I will look back fondly on and others which I’d prefer to forget.

Among the positives were the emergence of Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn as hurling forwards of the highest quality, with Conor Whelan also taking up that mantle later in the season. If Mannion had maintained his blistering scoring bursts in the Leinster and All-Ireland finals, the Ahascragh/Fohenagh clubman would have been a serious contender for Player of the Year.

Remember, it was Mannion’s early three-goal burst which had ignited Galway’s season in the Leinster championship replay against Dublin, while he was also a constant torment to Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final. Mannion covers ground much quicker than his languid style suggests and his form will be critical to the county team’s fortunes next year.

The somewhat more experienced Flynn landed many quality scores during the course of the championship, including an early second-half goal against Kilkenny in the Leinster decider, but none will top his wonder point at Croke Park last September when he brilliantly trapped Colm Callanan’s puck out under the Hogan Stand before rifling the sliotar through the Kilkenny posts.

Like Mannion, Flynn subsequently cut a fatigued figure in the local county championships, but the Tommy Larkins player was one of the unlucky ones not to have won an All Star this year. Whelan, only a minor in 2014, was thrown in at the deep end against Cork in Thurles, but he bagged a goal near the finish in that rout of the Rebels and his confidence soared to such an extent that he was the only Galway forward to really carry the fight to Kilkenny in the second-half of the All-Ireland final.

Flynn, Mannion and Whelan took some of the scoring pressure off Joe Canning during the championship, with their individual and collective fortunes set to have a major influence on Galway’s fate in 2016. And in spite of all the controversy over the heave against Anthony Cunningham, one expects the hurlers to be very competitive next year, especially if their young attacking guns are firing on all cylinders.

On the local hurling front, Sarsfields player/manager Cathal Murray mightn’t have thought it, but there was nothing in their formbook until the quarter-final against Pearses which suggested they had the scope and quality to claim the club’s first county title since 1997. They did come from nowhere but subsequently taking out champions Gort showed their achievement was no fluke. Sarsfields wouldn’t have won the replay without Joseph Cooney, but the team is back in the big time now and looking at some of their talented reserves in Pearse Stadium, they will hardly be one year hit wonders either.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

A key year ahead for O’Neill and Galway as action finally resumes

John McIntyre

Published

on

Galway hurling manager Shane O’Neill congratulates Conor Whelan after their victory over Tipperary in last year's All-Ireland championship quarter-final. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

When Shane O’Neill signed up for the Galway senior hurling manager’s post in November of 2019, he couldn’t have imagined – or could any of us – such a disruptive first season in charge. Between empty stadiums and playing championship games in the depths of winter, it was a GAA year like none other.

There was also the long break in competitive action from early March when sport became one of the many casualties of Covid-19 until inter-county fixtures were cleared to go ahead again the following October. Even for experienced managers it was an unprecedented test of their organising skills. Never mind their patience!

For rookie managers, the challenges were even greater, especially for those coming from an outside county. O’Neill was barely four months in the job when the rug was pulled from under GAA fixtures. The former Limerick hurler was only getting to know his players before enduring nearly a half year of no physical contact with his squad in a group setting.

It was a tough and unexpected baptism of fire, especially as Galway were just building up momentum in the league with home wins over Tipperary and Cork, only to be followed by months of inactivity. O’Neill had to be frustrated by that turn of events, but the Tribesmen belied a far from ideal preparation when stepping out in Croke Park in late October for their 2020 championship debut.

In the opposition corner was a Wexford team which could (maybe should) have beaten Tipperary in the previous year’s All-Ireland semi-final, and though Galway were favourites to win that Leinster semi-final, nobody could have imagined that there would be 13 points (1-27 to 0-17) between the teams at the finish.

Galway’s goal came from Brian Concannon, who really came of age as a county hurler last year, and given the overall vibrant nature of their display, the men in maroon were then expected to overcome what was perceived to be a fading Kilkenny in the provincial final. Though failing to find the net, they were in control – five points ahead – heading into the final quarter.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

GAA needs to grasp the nettle in relation to return of crowds

John McIntyre

Published

on

Galway hurlers Padraic Mannion and Conor Whelan with Galway footballers Shane Walsh and Sean Kelly wearing the new Galway GAA kits for 2021 at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Diarmuid Greene

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IF the GAA wants crowds coming through their turnstiles at some stage of the summer, they must take the bull by the horns and seize the initiative. Waiting around for our risk-adverse and ultra-cautious Government to open sporting venues to supporters will only lead to empty terraces for way longer than is necessary.

A few weeks ago, Leinster Rugby made a proposal to Government about hosting one of their matches in May in front of a 2,000 attendance. It remains to be seen whether that objective gets official blessing from Dáil Éireann, but at least a ball has been hopped. Now, it’s time for the GAA to follow suit.

Proposing to host a National League hurling or football game next month before a limited attendance would at least force our politicians to focus on the issue. If such a fixture got the green light, it would surely hasten a more general return of fans to GAA venues up and down the country.

The GAA has been beyond reproach in its handling of the pandemic – the organisation was not to blame for post-match county final celebrations which led to the plug being pulled on the club championship programme last winter. Every Government stipulation or restriction has been met. Like other sporting bodies, the GAA saw the bigger picture out there.

But it’s now past time to change the rules of engagement. Last month, there was a hysterical reaction to the Dublin and Monaghan footballers coming together for modified training sessions. I wasn’t upset or offended; just surprised over the timing given that inter-county teams had already been cleared to officially return to the training ground a couple of weeks later.

Ultimately, all they were doing were pursuing healthy outdoors activity, but you’d swear the Monaghan and Dublin players had carried out some heinous crime. Like the rest of us mad into sport, they are just fed up of the inconsistent restrictions which is leading to growing public frustration and despair out there.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Responsibility on Galway to tidy up club hurling championships

John McIntyre

Published

on

Western Motors are sponsoring a Kit Van for the Galway footballers in 2021 and pictured at the presentation are player Robert Finnerty, kit-man Shane Rhatigan, James McCormack, Managing Director of Western Motors, and Galway Football Manager Padraic Joyce.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

No county escaped the ravages of Covid-19 on their GAA fixtures calendar last year, but Galway club hurling suffered the most of all, with not a single championship completed bar the senior title race which saw St Thomas’ complete a notable hat-trick by overcoming Turloughmore at Kenny Park.

Even allowing for the serious impact of the pandemic, the optics of that reality don’t look good for Galway and with an overhang of so many competitions from 2020, local hurling officials face a massive challenge in trying to get everything concluded this year, especially as the main club action may not even start until early September.

Of course, an early Galway elimination from the Liam McCarthy Cup would ease some of that pressure, but that scenario represents a double-edged sword. In any event, based on last year’s form, the Tribesmen remain serious title contenders and have realistic prospects of reaching the All-Ireland final on the second last weekend of August.

Complicating the task of ‘catching up’ on last year’s unfinished business and running off the 2021 county championships is that Galway are still involved in the 2020 minor and U20 inter-county title races, with each team facing the prospect of two matches if things go well. It’s hard to credit that Brian Hanley guided Galway minors to All-Ireland glory in August of 2019, beating Kilkenny 3-14 to 0-12, and they haven’t played a championship match since.

Hanley, like U20 manager Jeffrey Lynskey, is currently in the unenviable position of trying to prepare understandably enlarged squads for two different championships. That is a difficult proposition by any standards, particularly as we still don’t have any scheduling for the completion of these championships from last year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending