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Inside Track

Burke has ‘fighting chance’ of taking GAA’s highest position

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GAA Presidential candidate Frank Burke is pictured presenting the Connacht intermediate football cup to St James' captain Mark Kelly in November of 2010.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT will be a crowded battlefield when Galway’s Frank Burke bids to become the next President of the GAA at the Association’s annual Congress in February – the former County Board Chairman will be one of five candidates seeking to succeed Aogán Ó Fearghaill.

In that sense, Burke’s timing could have been better. Three years ago, Ó Fearghaill was only opposed by Wexford’s Seamus Howlin and Kerry’s Sean Walsh when he won the approval of county delegates; his predecessor Liam O’Neill was actually elected without a contest; while in 2009 it was a three-runner race when O’Neill and Tipperary’s Sean Fogarty lost out to Cork’s Christy Cooney.

Joining Burke on the canvass trail over the coming months will be Walsh again, Longford’s Martin Skelly, Clare’s Robert Frost, and the perceived front-runner, John Horan, who is coming to the end of his term as Leinster Council Chairman.

Attempting to become the first Galway GAA President since the late Joe McDonagh in 2007, Burke has given long and distinguished service to the Association at county, provincial and national level. The Ardrahan native is currently Chairman of the National Coaching and Games Development Committee, and was also one of the driving forces in the redevelopment and financing of Pearse Stadium. The former school principal has also served as Chairman of the Connacht Council and on a host of GAA Committees in Croke Park.

Carrying out an admittedly unscientific straw poll of some other counties’ perspective on the merits of Burke’s candidature, feedback ranged from being ‘able, astute, experienced, respected’ to ‘lacking a big personality’. In fact, none of the contenders were, unsurprisingly, all things to all people, even if there was a kind of consensus that Burke was the biggest threat to Horan and had a ‘fighting chance’.

One thing for sure, Burke (63) will not be found wanting on is the campaign trail. He knows how the system works and what buttons to press. An excellent orator who has served a protracted apprenticeship, he is well entitled to have a crack at the big job. Burke could pick up ‘sympathy support’ over the treatment of Galway hurling teams by the Leinster Council but, ironically, could also lose out on votes over the same issue as the likes of Offaly and Wexford, for instance, are hardly enamoured by the Tribesmen’s continued bellyaching.

The fact that Connacht haven’t had a GAA President since McDonagh won’t do Burke’s election prospects any harm, but he has to positon himself as a forward-thinking individual and also needs to rally strong support from the Ulster counties who don’t have a candidate to support from their own province. It won’t be easy to stand out from the pack, but Burke can’t afford to play safe either in the weeks ahead.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Turlough’s thumping of title holders opens up the hurling championship

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St Thomas’ v Turloughmore Senior Hurling Championship game at Kenny Park, Athenry. Dara Whelan, Turloughmore and Victor Manso, St Thomas’

Inside Track with John McIntyre

TURLOUGHMORE blew the Galway senior hurling championship wide open with an unexpected thumping of title holders St Thomas’ at Kenny Park on Saturday. With questions to answer after fading badly in an earlier group tie against Clarinbridge, Franny Forde’s charges achieved a statement victory which must have sent shock waves throughout the county.

Having come up narrowly short in the 2020 decider against St Thomas’ in front of empty terraces in Athenry, Turlough looked like a team primed to exploit significant under-age success, but they had a blow-out in last year’s preliminary quarter-final when surrendering a 10-point lead to rank outsiders Kilnadeema/Leitrim.

That left the team with questions to answer heading into 2022, and that disappointing 0-24 to 0-17 loss to Clarinbridge in August appeared to confirm that Turloughmore were missing the level of substance and belief in their ranks which potential champions require. But all bets are off after last Saturday’s demolition job of St Thomas’.

Carrying the day by a scarcely believable 2-23 to 0-14 against an admittedly out-of-sorts champions must do wonders for the squad’s confidence, and with Seán Loftus continuing to hurl up a storm in the group stages – seven points of his 1-12 total came from play – Turloughmore are now serious contenders for title glory.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

McStay getting Mayo post means Galway must be wary about 2023

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Mountbellew-Moylough's Leo Donnellan and Mikey Culhane of Salthill Knocknacarra battling for possession during Sunday's Senior Football Champiomship tie at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Those of us who were thinking that a protracted period of dominance in the province lay ahead of the Galway footballers are probably revising that opinion in the light of Kevin McStay taking over the unluckiest team of all-time. When it comes to bad breaks, Mayo are in a league of their own.

Losing six All-Ireland finals – including the 2016 replay against Dublin – over the past decade has been gut wrenching for both players and supporters. There is only so much big-day misery a county can take, but Mayo remain the eternal optimists; their spirits unbroken. Football is their lifeblood, the pulse of everyday life up there.

Yet, even their most optimistic fans must have thought that the All-Ireland dream is finally over for Leer Keegan, Rob Hennelly, the O’Connors, Kevin McLaughlin and Aidan O’Shea after a tame quarter-final exit to Kerry this summer. Coming on the back of last year’s demoralising final defeat to Tyrone, the general presumption was that Mayo faced a significant period of transition.

It was no surprise when James Horan stood down as manager in the wake of the Kerry loss, with four candidates interested in filling the vacancy – McStay being joined in the race by Ray Dempsey, Mike Solan and Declan Shaw who all put together strong backroom teams with the likes of Armagh’s Oisín McConville and Sligo’s Eamon O’Hara seemingly willing to throw in their lot with Mayo.

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

Donoghue and Kelly join the list of outsiders hoping to work the oracle

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Ardrahan team manager Syl Dolan supported by his grandchildren Jack, Shay, Leo and PJ against Portumna in the county hurling championship in Gort last Saturday.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Why is it that a majority of hurling counties regularly shun homegrown local managerial talent in favour of high-profile outsiders? Sure, such a scenario remains an anathema to the traditional powers of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary, but most of the rest regularly have their heads turned by non-natives.

The reality is that no county in nearly 25 years has lifted the McCarthy Cup with someone from beyond their borders in charge. Of course, Offaly are the one team which has benefited from having an outside influence, with Diarmuid Healy, Eamon Cregan and Galway’s own Michael Bond between them leading the Midlanders to All-Ireland glory on four different occasions.

But still the fad persists. Look at what’s ahead of us in 2023. A Galway man (Micheál Donoghue) taking over Dublin; another Galway man (Johnny Kelly) about to be installed as Offaly boss; a Tipperary man (Darragh Egan) in charge of Wexford; another Tipperary man (Darren Gleeson) still occupying the Antrim role; a Clare man (Davy Fitzgerald) back with Waterford, and the prospect of a Waterford man (Derek McGrath) filling the vacancy in Laois.

It has caught most Galway hurling observers by surprise that Donoghue is throwing in his lot with Dublin for a three-year term, especially as it’s only the Autumn of 2019 that he pulled the plug on his management of Galway, citing family reasons and a difficult working relationship with some local GAA officials.

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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