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Inside Track

All-Star snub for Galway Ladies leaves sour taste

Stephen Glennon

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In happier times: Team captain Marie O'Connell and team mates celebrate with their Manager, Con Moynihan, on their arrival in Ballinasloe following their All-Ireland victory in the Junior Ladies Football final at Croke Park in 2002.

Inside Track with Stephen Glennon

It beggars belief each and every year that when the Ladies Gaelic Football All-Stars are announced that Galway gets continually snubbed when it comes to the gongs. It happened again last weekend when no Galway player was feted and this, not surprisingly, has left many in the county fuming.

All-Stars, by their nature, tend to generate debate and it is no different when the hurling, camogie and football teams are named annually. There are cases for and against. However, there does seem to be a trend in recent years that Galway ladies have to go that extra yard to secure some recognition.

This year, Galway were seen as the biggest threat to Cork’s ambitions of landing a 10th All-Ireland title in 11 years – particularly earlier in the year when it required a replay and extra-time to separate the teams in the National League Division 1 final before Cork finally emerged victorious.

The Tribeswomen bounced back from their league defeat to win their fourth consecutive Connacht title over Cora Staunton’s Mayo, with All-Star nominee Patricia Gleeson kicking a dramatic late point to snatch the victory.

Sadly, when Galway and beaten Munster finalists Cork met in the All-Ireland quarter-final in August, the reigning All-Ireland champions snatched the victory on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-10. That two-point defeat was the same margin Dublin, who received a plethora of All-Stars, lost the All-Ireland decider.

If Galway and Cork had avoided each other for another round, until the All-Ireland semi-final, it may have strengthened their case in the eyes of the All-Star selection committee – yet, that said, would that have even mattered?

The All-Star nominations were released in October, with 45 players named on the shortlist. All-Ireland champions Cork understandably dominated with 11. They were followed by Dublin who received 10. Galway – for many regarded as the second best team in the country at present – received just five.

They were Sinead Burke, Áine Seoighe, Geraldine Conneally, Patricia Gleeson and Tracey Leonard, the latter of whom was one of the top forwards in the country in 2015 and absolutely terrorised Cork when she had the ball in her hands.

In the National League alone, Leonard tallied 8-35 – taking Dublin in the semi-final for eight points (seven from play) before going on to shoot another eight against Cork (six from play) in the drawn League final. She tallied three more (two from play) in their 0-14 to 1-10 loss to the Rebels in the replay.

In their own statement, the Ladies Association state “the players that are selected as being potential All Star nominees could be from either the winning or the losing sides regardless of the result” and that this criteria extends to all competitions, including the National League.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway won’t lack for motivation ahead of big Tralee assignment

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Fintan Burke breaking free from Westmeath’s Alan Cox during Saturday's National Hurling League tie at Cusack Park, Mullingar. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

PADRAIC Joyce will be keeping his fingers crossed that the Galway footballers can hit the ground running – just like last year – in the upcoming National League. In the spring of 2020, the Tribesmen won four of their opening five games in the competition, with their only defeat an unlucky away one to Kerry in Tralee.

Joyce, of course, was just starting his first season in charge and his popular appointment to the Galway manager’s post not alone seemed to galvanise the players, but also led to renewed hope among supporters. There was a feelgood factor about Galway football in those early months of 2020, only for Covid-19 to rear its ugly head.

All the momentum Galway had built-up from those wins over Monaghan, Meath, Donegal and their trouncing of Tyrone in Tuam was lost by forces outside of their control. The resulting lay-off for months and the accompanying uncertainty was a challenging environment for even the most experienced of team managements, never mind rookie set-ups.

It was misfortunate for Galway, in particular, for when they eventually returned to action in mid-October, it was like starting all over again. Things didn’t go well for them, losing to both Mayo and Dublin to end their hopes of the league title before they were denied the opportunity of a Connacht semi-final against Sligo due to a Covid outbreak in the opposition camp.

Being pitched straight into a provincial final against Mayo was far from ideal, especially as they had to plan without the services of injured defender John Daly, while Damien Comer only came on as a second-half substitute due to hamstring trouble. Trailing by five points in the third quarter, Galway were in serious difficulty but rallied bravely with Shane Walsh and Paul Conroy driving them on.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

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

John McIntyre

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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.

 

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Connacht Tribune

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

John McIntyre

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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.

 

 

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