Dara Bradley in Tullamore
THE writing was on the wall for Kildare early enough. It was only 30 seconds into the second half of the Cadbury’s All-Ireland U21 semi-final, and the raging hot favourites started where they’d left off in the first half – they hit another wide, this time from the boot of midfielder Thomas Moolick.
The disease had been diagnosed long before they’d reached the sanctuary of the midway dressing room, but Kildare had no cure for wayward shooting and damn awful shot-selection.
True, Kildare cut the deficit to two soon after that, and there was some concern when Galway lost two defenders to injury, Daithi Burke and David Cunnane, halfway through the second half, but really the shooting of Kieran McGeeney’s men was so haphazard they never got any scoring momentum going to put pressure on the scoreboard.
The Lilywhites added eight more wides in the remainder of the half, and when added to their ten wides in the first half, brought their total tally to 19 for the hour, a wide every three minutes on average.
It was calamitous; and had they been given 19 more shots at the posts we’d venture Kildare still wouldn’t have converted enough of them to win. Indeed, the two teams could still be playing today at O’Connor Park and Kildare wouldn’t have won it such was their shooting ineptitude, which was, in fairness, partly due to Galway’s mostly sturdy and dependable defence.
Galway’s attack wasn’t near as wasteful, registering just five wides, and one of them, a free from Shane Walsh that was signalled wide, actually looked like a score but thankfully it wasn’t significant.
The Kildare lads were as wasteful as drunken sailors on shore leave whereas Galway showed thriftiness in the forwards and an economical use of possession when within scoring range that would have impressed even the country’s miserly paymasters, the Troika.
In Shane Walsh (19) the county has unearthed a real gem, who scored more (six) than Kildare’s total points tally. Fleet footed, his class scoring abilities essentially was the difference between the teams, as the Kilkerrin/Clonberne teenager with his lightning fast pace tormented Kildare whenever he touched the ball.
Centre-forward Seán Moran, the official man of the match, is another natural talent that caused a buzz every time he got on the ball, and he took the game to Kildare from the 40. The likes of Ian Burke, a constant threat, lively Cathal Mulryan and Adrian Varley, though he didn’t score was involved time and again in Galway attacks, had too much footballing ability up front compared with their counterparts.
When a wide is registered, there’s a tendency to blame the kicker rather than the defender that stuck a shoulder in before the trigger was pulled; or the defenders who crowded round to tighten the shooting angle; or the defender who put pressure on and had enough of a presence to force the forward into rushing the shot.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Corofin hit the goal trail again in crushing Monivea/Abbey
WHILE it goes without saying that everyone is hugely thankful that sporting action has resumed and we still appear on course to complete a season, it is such a pity for the time being that only a handful of supporters are allowed the privilege to watch a team of Corofin’s class in full flight as they look destined to create history on their march to an eighth senior title in a row.
On a glorious day for football last Sunday, Corofin dismantled Monivea/Abbey in emphatic fashion, playing an electric brand of football that repeatedly cut holes in their opponent’s defensive alignment. Seven goals last time out against Oughterard, there could have been more again in Tuam Stadium but for some uncharacteristically sloppy finishing to rapier-like first half moves that left Brian Mulry’s side exposed.
It didn’t help that Cillian McDaid, Monivea/Abbey’s star turn, was an absentee, or that St. Bernard’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter final was scheduled for the same time, but Monivea/Abbey should still take a small shred of comfort from the fact that they competed well at times, created 19 scoring chances, and never dropped their heads despite the lost cause.
With no Connacht or All-Ireland club championship to have to try and peak for later in the year, Corofin look poised to lay down a serious marker on how far ahead of the pack they really are. New faces like Matthew Cooley and replacement Colin Kelly, who confidently netted two second-half goals on his debut, are being given their chance, while Ronan Steede, Martin Farragher, Bernard Power, and Daithí Burke were not required on this occasion.
Throw in the fact that Kevin O’Brien chose to keep Kieran Molloy and Gary Sice in reserve until deep into the second half and you start to seriously question whether any side in the county will be able to lay a glove on them this term. Ian Burke is motoring along nicely, Micheál Lundy appears revived back in a more attacking role, while veterans like Ciarán McGrath are haring around the pitch as if they have a point to prove.
Monivea/Abbey were lively all over the pitch early on and actually created one more scoring opportunity in the opening twelve minutes (5-4) but were unfortunately wasteful when it mattered and somehow found themselves trailing by 1-2 to 0-1.
Corofin’s movement and accuracy were already sublime, with Lundy, Burke, and Cooley lining up in an I formation down the middle of the attack and Darragh Silke offering himself as a highly effective link man in transition. Jason Leonard and Dylan Canney provided width when needed while the defensive Dylan’s, Wall and McHugh, tore forward when the chances arose.
Ian Burke’s sharp turn on eight minutes left Caelom Mulry in his wake, but when a goal looked likely Burke drove just over the bar. Three minutes later the dam broke when Lundy curled a pass into Cooley in space, and he picked out McHugh on the burst who slotted to the net at his ease.
A Brian Moran free registered Monivea/Abbey’s first score shortly after, but the die had already been cast. Jason Leonard drove over a ’45 after Burke had been denied by some last gasp defending before Canney clipped over a classy score where Lundy and Burke were involved again.
Extended report will appear in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway minor footballers stun Kerry in brilliant win
NOT many minor teams would have coped with the adversity and setbacks which stalked Galway’s championship summer, or much less end up looking forward to an All-Ireland final appearance in over a fortnight’s time.
Donal Ó Fatharta’s latest batch of minor footballers have had their mettle well and truly tested over the past couple of months, notably when falling twice in the provincial title race and also having to overcome a numerical disadvantage in a key match against a quality Sligo outfit.
The fact that Galway came through all those difficulties to contest last Sunday’s absorbing All-Ireland semi-final was a tribute to the squad’s character and resolve. Quite simply, this is a group of players wearing maroon jerseys who don’t know when to give up.
Having comfortably dispensed with Leinster champions Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final – Galway teams at all levels seem to have the Indian sign over the Lilywhites – they had clearly parked a heartbreaking extra-time loss to Mayo in the Connacht decider. It meant they headed to GAA headquarters in good fettle and no doubts about their bottle.
In the opposition corner, however, was a Kerry team trying to maintain the county’s push for an unprecedented sixth consecutive All-Ireland minor title. The Kingdom were also unbeaten in 34 matches at this level and were strong favourites to carry the day.
But the Galway players were both undaunted and ready for the challenge. They rose to the occasion in magnificent style and, pretty soon, it was evident that this was going to be no walk in the park for the highly-rated Kerry boys.
Galway thrived in the open spaces of Croke Park in producing their most accomplished display of the campaign.
Read full match coverage in Tribune Sport.
Corofin resume quest for seven-in-a-row
DUBLIN’S footballers may be going for the five-in-a-row, but Jim Gavin’s all-conquering charges would struggle to hold a candle to the team which continues to dominate Galway club football.
Corofin have had the odd close shave – notably last year’s drawn county final against Mountbellew/Moylough – but their shadow continues to tower over the Galway championship.
Kevin O’Brien’s troops are on the trail of a seventh county title on the trot in 2019 – a feat which would equal the achievements of St Grellan’s, Ballinasloe (1913 to ‘19) and Tuam Stars (1954 to ’60).
Corofin will also be aiming to stay on track for a record-breaking third consecutive All-Ireland title when resuming their championship campaign with a clash against Annaghdown at Tuam Stadium on Friday evening (7.30pm).
There are nine senior group ties down for this decision this weekend – two go ahead on Friday evening, with the rest taking place on Saturday, scheduling influenced by the Galway minors’ All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.
See full match previews in this week’s Connacht Tribune Sport.