Young Tribesmen show plenty of resolution to edge out wasteful Mayo in hard fought semi-final battle
Dara Bradley at Tuam Stadium
GALWAY qualified for the Cadbury’s Connacht U21 football final – and dumped Mayo out of the championship – with a hard fought and merited two points win over their rival neighbours at Tuam Stadium on Saturday evening.
Mayo had enough possession to win it; they had enough shots at the posts to win it, but ultimately they were wasteful and relied too heavily on senior county player, Cillian O’Connor.
At half time, Galway were up by just a point and facing the prospect of playing against a bizarre, stiff and bitterly cold wind that swept cross-field and towards the town end goal.
Added to that, Mayo had weathered an early Galway storm, looked to have the measure of the midfield sector; and when the Tribesmen had gone almost 20 minutes of the first half leading up to half-time without registering a score, the omens didn’t look too good for the home side.
After the interval, Alan Flynn’s charges showed immense character, however, with a defiant display that proved they have the bottle and temperament to withstand the pressure in tight squeezes such as this.
Twice early in the second half Mayo drew level but almost instantly – and stubbornly – Galway responded and nudged in front again, which was a psychological blow to the visitors, stifling their efforts to build momentum and had an even greater impact on the confidence levels of the home team.
Had the sides been on parity for long, or had Mayo gone one up, who knows, doubts could have seeped into Galway’s heads but the Tribesmen reacted positively each time the Green and Red threw down the gauntlet in the third quarter.
Following the exhilarating attacking display against Sligo five days previous, in which Galway won by 16 points, it was the team’scollective defensive effort that took the plaudits on Saturday; the defence and gifted corner-forward Shane Walsh, who really did turn on the style scoring six of his side’s nine points with a man-of-the-match display.
True, the backs conceded far too many cheap frees as they fouled far too freely in the first half – they were lucky free-takers O’Connor and Evan Regan didn’t quite have the measure of the tricky wind – but, probably following a rollicking by Flynn and Co at the break, the Galway defence tightened up after the interval and cut out the unnecessary fouling.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Ó Fatharta lauds minor squad for response to Mayo reversal
GALWAY minor football manager Dónal Ó Fátharta has praised his young charges for the manner in which they responded to their Connacht final defeat to Mayo.
Ó Fátharta’s squad turned on the style when taking down Leinster champions Kildare in their All-Ireland quarter-final at Pearse Park, Longford last weekend to set up a semi-final meeting against a Kerry outfit chasing an incredible six-in-a-row of titles at this grade.
However, the Galway manager admitted he was concerned initially as to how his players would respond to the provincial final loss to Mayo. “After the Connacht final, the guys were down. We gave them a week off, which we were going to do anyways. When they came back in for our meeting and the usual stuff, I was worried, but, after that meeting, I wasn’t worried. I was hopeful.
“For the last two weeks, they have worked hard. We played Dublin in a challenge and it was one of those games of 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. We were very sharp that night. That reinforced it for me that there was a performance in these guys. The next challenge is a game in Croke Park, which is another step up, but I am delighted that they are there and they have that opportunity.”
Indeed, Ó Fátharta described his players’ display against Kildare as “a complete performance”, noting: “Structurally, I think we were very good. I think we took our chances, and we did everything that we talk about doing every day. They took their chances when they had to; they worked hard; they put in shifts, and all that sort of stuff. So, we are delighted with the performance.”
See full report and reaction in Connacht Tribune Sport.
Cooney and McInerney pass on winning mentality to sons
When Galway last won back-to-back All-Ireland senior hurling titles in 1987 and 1988, Joe Cooney and Gerry McInerney and their team-mates were giants living in a world of ordinary men. There was no social media, yet they were iconic figures known the width and breadth of the country.
As former masters of the game, they still enjoy cult status. That will never change although both were more than happy to pass on the torch when the Tribesmen ended the 29-year famine for the Liam McCarthy Cup last September.
What made it even more enjoyable was that both had sons involved in that historic success – Joseph Cooney and Gearoid McInerney – as they will have again today. As they recounted earlier this week, it was, in some small way, like getting to relive those glory days again.
GMc: Ah, it was. It was mighty. There was a bit of ‘been there, done that’ and it was good to be able to give them that bit of advice. If they ask your advice, at least you might know. So, it was good.
JC: You would enjoy it a bit more when you are looking in at it rather than being caught up in it. It was even nicer because you could take it all in. And you would have relived some of the memories from our own time as well. So, we got to be both sides of the fence. It was a relief really though (last year). When we won it, I also remember it was a pure relief. You would never think at any time that you might get to tog out in an All-Ireland final at Croke Park – and win one. We were able to do that and we were awful lucky that way. That we were there ourselves and then to have the lads involved last year was great. It really was something else. Unbelievable.
SG: Times have changed since those All-Ireland victories in the 1980s – no more so than in hurling. Are you blown away with the amount of sports science going into a team’s preparation now?
JC: To a certain point, it has changed completely but, at the same time, when you hit the pitch and the ball is thrown in, it is the same. It is about the ball. You have to go and win your area, win the ball, get your scores and stop scores. It all comes down to those 70 minutes. That is the way it is. So, it hasn’t changed that way.
GMc: I suppose, whatever was going on at the time, you were going to do it. And it was different times when we were playing. You had to go with the flow. That was the way it was. It was a man’s game – and still is too. You still have to stand up for yourself and if you don’t you will be walked over. No matter what you are at now, be it hurling or life, you have to stand up for yourself every day.
SG: From your own experiences in ‘87 and ‘88, how difficult is it to put titles back-to-back?
JC: To keep yourself right for the two years was the thing. Probably, you might think you were going better than you were and you might take the foot off for a small bit but you can’t afford to do that now. I don’t think these lads are doing it now. They have been fairly consistent and they are hard to beat.
I suppose, it is hard to keep it right when you are after winning it; every team is trying to beat you and pick holes in you. So, you have to be able to stand up to that and that is the difference when you are up there. Everyone wants to knock you and it gets harder and harder and harder.
For me, though, there is a great mix in this team and you need that when you are playing. We had a good mix of players and these guys seem to be the same as well. Also, when you are after winning one, you will get it into your head too that you are harder to beat. That is the way these lads are now and we were probably the same.
SG: Do you ever feel disappointed that the three-in-a-row didn’t materialise, particularly given much of it was down to circumstances – such as the referee – outside your control?
GMc: We probably took our eye off the ball as well. We could have beaten them (Tipperary, 1989 All-Ireland semi-final) – referee and all.
JC: There was not a whole pile in that game . . .
GMc: No Joe, there was not. 1989, the refereeing was putrid but you could say the refereeing in 1990 was no better. He gave frees for nothing. But we took our eyes off the ball in 1990.
SG: You had an unbelievable first half against Cork in the 1990 All-Ireland final Joe, so for you it must have been even more disappointing?
JC: That was just how the game went. We didn’t get as many opportunities in the second half. But they were definitely two matches and two years that we left it behind us.
GMc: But this team is far more focused. They have it upstairs. They have that mental strength. There is no messing and it is tunnel vision. If we were minded like that we would have gone on and won as many titles as Kilkenny. I mean, you have to pull in the reins an odd time but, in fairness to these lads, it is very professional and very well run.
SG: Why you think you might have lost focus? Was it a West of Ireland thing?
GMc: We were always confident going up. Weren’t we Joe, in fairness? It wasn’t upstairs.
JC: No, but you have to take your chances when you are there. It doesn’t come around that often. You will get a few years and that is it. You have to do it. The last one we won was in ’88 and we were still young enough but we didn’t win one again until last year. We thought, surely to God, we would get another one before we finished. So, when you are there, you have to make the best of it.
Galway Ladies’ management lodge complaint over Connacht Final referee
Management of the Galway Senior Ladies’ Football team have made a formal complaint about the decision to appoint former Mayo ladies’ manager Gerry Carmody as match referee for this weekend’s Connacht Final clash with Mayo.
Team Manager Stephen Glennon issued the following statement this morning: “The Galway senior ladies football management expresses its dismay and disappointment and that the appointment by Connacht LGFA of former Mayo minor ladies football manager Gerry Carmody as referee for their Connacht senior final with Mayo at MacHale Park, Castlebar this Sunday stands as is.
“The decision by Connacht LGFA to dismiss Galway’s objection, we believe, calls not only the integrity of this year’s Connacht final into question but also that of an administration which has shown a blatant disregard for Galway ladies football with this appointment and, indeed, the spirit of the game of ladies’ football.
“We would consequently call on LGFA and Croke Park to investigate this matter thoroughly, determining as to how such an appointment could be made, and take swift and appropriate action.
“This is the fifth consecutive year Galway must travel to MacHale Park for the provincial decider and the appointment of Mr. Carmody, who has mentored a number of the current Mayo senior players as Mayo minor boss between 2012 – 2013, is a gross error of judgement by Connacht LGFA.
“We recognise Mr. Carmody, who changed his inter-county designation from Mayo to Roscommon, is not to blame for this current predicament but, by the same token, it would be remiss of Galway senior ladies management, on behalf of our set-up, not to object to the appointment of someone who has represented Mayo as both a ladies’ football inter-county manager and as one of their designated referees over a number of years.
“Galway Ladies Board has informed us this morning that the appointment stands on two grounds – both of which we would dispute. The first is that Mr. Carmody changed his designation two years ago – which is irrelevant given his close association to Mayo. However, it is also untrue as the LGFA national website featured Mr. Carmody in a profile as ‘Mayo Referee’ in September 2016, which is less than two years ago.
“Secondly, Connacht LGFA assert that Mr. Carmody is the most qualified referee in Connacht. This may be the case but, in light of his previous history with Mayo, this doesn’t align with the spirit of the game.
“Indeed, we, as a management, would question why a referee with no affiliation to either of the competing counties could not have been selected for Sunday’s game by Connacht LGFA.
“This is a regrettable situation. We had endeavoured to deal with this in a quieter manner by bringing our appeal to Connacht Council this week but the failure of this administration to satisfactorily address our concerns has forced us to take this issue into the public arena.
“We are disappointed that we have to do so and that we have to deal with this disruption in the week leading into the Connacht final. However, we would hope that by bringing this matter to light in the public domain that this decision would be reversed.”