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Inside Track

All-Ireland Club Champs can have no complaints

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Inside Track with John McIntyre

In the space of 24 hours last weekend, the reigning Galway senior hurling and football champions fell by the wayside, but in vastly contrasting fashion.

St. Thomas’ eclipse was the big if hardly surprising news to emerge from the local GAA fields, although Salthill Knocknacarra footballers getting beating out the gate in Tuam Stadium possibly set even more tongues wagging.

In terms of national interest, the fall of the All-Ireland Club hurling champions at Kenny Park last Saturday would have led to widespread murmurs outside the county’s borders. St. Thomas’ had been lucky to survive their drawn semi-final encounter against Portumna the weekend previously, but the expectation was that they had the scope to step up on that uneven performance for the replay.

In fact, St. Thomas’ struggled even more. The early lost of defender Cathal Burke admittedly didn’t help them nor did the fact that Richie Murray still wasn’t fit enough to start, but the expected bounce and vibrancy in their ranks was again largely absent and only for two converted 21 yard frees by centre forward Conor Cooney, the title holders wouldn’t have remained in contention for so long.

With Sean Skehill a long term injury victim, St. Thomas’ resources were being stretched to the limit and, ultimately, they didn’t possess sufficient cover. Certainly, David Burke and company never gave up and it took a mighty catch from long serving full back Eugene McEntee in the dying moments to get Portumna over the line and, in the process, set up another final collision with old foes Loughrea.

A big crowd assembled in Athenry last Saturday in the expectation that there would be a greater edge to the exchanges than was the case in the drawn semi-final, but they were sorely disappointed. With referee Leonard Fay clearly intent on pulling for everything, the replay was largely a stop-start affair which never really ignited. When you contrast some of the tackling and heavy hits which went unpunished in the Tipperary final the following day, you’d be inclined to wonder are officials in Galway trying to sanitise hurling too much?

Regardless of how the match unfolded or was refereed, the over-riding impression was that Portumna were again the superior force. Sure, they struggled to put St. Thomas’ put away, didn’t raise a green flag for the third consecutive game and are no longer able to produce the sustained scoring bursts which typified to the team’s hey-day, but they remain a solid yardstick and any team which has Damien Hayes and Joe Canning leading the charge is always to take some beating.

Canning again lined out in midfield in perhaps a managerial indulgence that Portumna couldn’t afford. He was man-marked this time by Bernard Burke, who has been struggling to reach last year’s heights, and found it difficult to make a sustained influence. Canning moved to the edge of the square for the second-half and though he didn’t score from play, the former All Star caused panic in the St. Thomas’ defensive ranks while his haul of ten points from frees was critical to their win.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Lyng taking over from Cody leads to an outbreak of relief in Galway

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Galway's Ciara Donohue breaking out of defence against Lauren Homan of Cork during Sunday's All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was surely a collective sigh of relief in Galway’s hurling strongholds when former midfielder Derek Lyng was appointed to succeed Brian Cody as the new Kilkenny manager last week – the first time since the winter of 1998 that a new senior supremo has been unveiled down Noreside way.

After Cody somewhat surprisingly ended his long tenure as Kilkenny manager in the wake of last month’s battling All-Ireland Final defeat to Limerick, it was only natural that current Galway team manager Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny’s most decorated player of all-time, would be linked with the vacancy.

“Don’t do it Henry” was a common refrain on social media as Galway supporters understandably feared the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman would find the prospect of talking over his native county impossible to resist. Lyng, Martin Fogarty and ex-Laois boss Eddie Brennan were also touted as being in the running.

A similar precedent had been set this summer when Liam Cahill abruptly departed Waterford to return to Tipperary after the local County Board hardly covered itself in glory in the manner it ended the tenure of former player Colm Bonnar after just one year in charge. Admittedly, it had been a tough championship for Tipperary, losing all four games in Munster, but there were extenuating circumstances.

For starters, Brendan Maher and Padraic Maher retired – the latter was forced to hang up the boots due to a neck injury – while other heroes of past All-Ireland triumphs, Bubbles O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan, were also notable absentees. It meant Bonnar took over a Tipperary team in transition.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Lots of positivity around but Galway will now have target on their backs

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Owner Annette Mee with Monday’s Galway Festival bumper winner,This Songisforyou. Also included are Emmet Mullins, trainer, Laura Keir, and jockey Derek O'Connor. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALL around Ballybrit last week, the post All-Ireland football final verdict was virtually unanimous: Galway were unlucky against Kerry but had done the county proud. Naturally, the big focus was on the harsh free awarded against John Daly as he attempted to break out of defence late in the match.

Of all the varying opinions on the controversy doing the rounds at the races and in the media at large, former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness probably put it the most succinctly of all in Saturday’s edition of the Irish Times. He said anyone just focusing on the first part of the incident would award a free out to Daly, but those only seeing Killian Spillane’s arm being pulled in by the Galway number six would have sided with referee Seán Hurson’s call.

And that’s in a nutshell. The first foul was committed on Daly and that should have led to a crucial free out for Galway just seconds after Damien Comer had forced a terrific turnover. In that moment, however, Kerry got a break they weren’t entitled to, and the Munster champions weren’t slow in taking advantage.

Galway were that close to ending 21-years in the All-Ireland wastelands, but Padraic Joyce and his players don’t need any reminding that it’s a long way back to next year’s final. Sure, they have made huge progress over the past few months and their camp will now be stacked with belief, but there are no guarantees that they will enjoy another protracted run in 2023.

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.

 

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Nothing certain in 2023 but at least Galway won’t start from base camp

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Galway manager Pádraic Joyce and defender Kieran Molloy look on during the presentation of the Sam Maguire Cup to Kerry after Sunday's All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE sense of anti-climax will be overwhelming for everybody associated with the Galway footballers this week. Homecomings are an understandable necessity of the All-Ireland final experience, but they can be a testing environment for deflated players and management. Within hours you’re going from great expectations to utter despair.

The fact that Galway could have ended a 21-year All-Ireland drought will only compound the disappointment, and though the Tribesmen have laid a great foundation for the seasons ahead, there is absolutely no guarantee that this group will even get back to Croke Park on finals day again.

First of all, Galway’s cover is well and truly blown which means the accompany rise in expectations is something of a double-edged sword. There will be extra pressure as well compared to 2021 when there was a ‘bonus feel’ to the team’s major progress in the championship. They kind of came in under the radar, but won’t have that luxury next year.

The other big issue is outside their control. Now that Kerry are finally back on top of the football tree and the accompanying weight lifted off their shoulders after an eight-year wait, it’s probable that the new champions will be even better in the foreseeable future. You couldn’t say that they were lucky to win on Sunday, but you’d know from their early profligacy especially that these Kerry players were feeling the pressure.

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.

 

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