Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Inside Track

Coen and Keary hold key to Loughrea title hopes

Published

on

Inside Track with John McIntyre

We have been here before. Four times previously, in fact, since 2002. So there is no shortage of history – or bad blood for that matter – between the clubs.

Portumna and Loughrea last met in local hurling’s showpiece event in 2009 and the general assumption over the following seasons was that a fifth big day collision involving the teams was hardly imminent.

Having contested seven consecutive finals and winning five of them, Portumna were the undoubted heavyweights of club hurling – a fact also underlined by three All-Ireland triumphs – during this time and though the breaks haven’t always been on their side since their last Galway success in 2009, there was also an increasing school of thought that the glory days might be behind them.

Four years ago, they trounced their old foes by 19 points in that county final and we all rushed to the conclusion that Loughrea were finished, but they have never lacked resilience and Sunday will be their third Galway decider to contest since then. It will be their seventh in total over the past 11 years and the club’s latest chance to improve on an appalling big day record at Pearse Stadium where they have lost five of their six previous final appearances.

That desperate record would test the resolve of even the most battle-hardened group of players, but Loughrea have never raised the white flag or subjected themselves to long periods of self-pity. Each new campaign brought fresh impetus and hope, but when they fell to St. Thomas’ in the county final 12 months ago, the morale of their longer serving soldiers probably hit an all-time low. Portumna were no longer the tormentors, but they had now been passed out by a new group of young, talented stickmen from St. Thomas’.

It was no wonder that their preparations for 2013 were slow to kick into gear; Enda McDonnell became a reluctant manager; and there was precious little evidence in an unremarkable but significantly unbeaten group campaign to suggest that Loughrea were much worse or better than in recent seasons. Consistency has been their forte, but those extra touches of class which separate the challengers from the champions appeared to be still beyond them.

Yet, I remember thinking during the opening 20 minutes of their group tie with Castlegar (I was involved with the city club this year), that there appeared to be an extra dimension to them in the current championship . . . more pace, more movement, especially in a youthful half forward line. Subsequently, they almost ran aground against Pearses in the quarter-finals, but the Ballymacward men can be notoriously obdurate opponents and, perhaps, Loughrea were also led astray by reports of Pearses’ poor form in challenge matches.

They may have staggered over the line, but Loughrea heeded the warning and cut a far more vigorous unit against Beagh in the semi-finals. There was a vibrancy and quality to their play which the outsiders couldn’t match with Neil Keary putting in another big performance up front, and Brian Mahony and young Sean Sweeney leading the way in defence. All through the field, there was a bounce in Loughrea’s play and there was no obvious sense that they remain haunted by past failures.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Cool the jets – let’s give Galway sideline supremos a fair hearing

Published

on

Mayo's Aidan O'Shea feels the strain against Galway's Cathal Sweeney and Seán Mulkerrin during Sunday's Connacht Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus /Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IN all my years (more like decades) involved in hurling, I have never seen a team play the game at a faster pace than what Waterford did for 55 minutes in Thurles last Saturday. They were like Olympic sprinters and Galway simply couldn’t keep up with them in the open expanses of Semple Stadium.

Galway hurlers have often plumbed the depths when least expected, but trailing by 16 points after three quarters of Saturday’s knock-out clash was a total shock to the system. We know the Tribesmen have a terrible record against Waterford, but this was embarrassing and unacceptable for a team which had been touted as Limerick’s chief threat.

Though Galway are understandably getting some credit for their grandstand finish, it’s only papering over the cracks and, let’s be honest, there would probably have been no comeback at all only for Waterford being reduced to 14 players for the entire second-half. And then having whittled the deficit down from 16 points to three and all the momentum behind them with over six minutes still left to be played, they were found wanting again.

After substitute Jason Flynn’s first goal, there were five more scores and Waterford got four of them. That alone tells you that Liam Cahill’s men had more of what it takes to succeed at this level. Waterford were in disarray but somehow were able to find the inspiration to get over the line.

Meeting Galway supporters before the game, we shared the same concerns about the men in maroon jerseys. Eyebrows were raised by the team chosen and some of the positions players were picked in. Having failed to raise much of a gallop against Dublin, Galway should have been straining at the leash to achieve some redemption. Instead, they were worse; swept aside by a ravenous Waterford team which had everything their opponents didn’t

Though leaving Daithí Burke at centre-back didn’t cost Galway the game, it was still stubborn of the team management to stick to their guns when his zealous patrolling of the square continued to be so blatantly missed. Keeping faith with the unrelated Cooneys’, Joseph and Conor, also attracted criticism.

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.

 

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Fearsome Limerick hit new high by tearing Tipperary rivals apart

Published

on

Galway’s Carrie Dolan breaking away from Laura Doherty of Westmeath during Saturday's All-Ireland camogie championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

In the aftermath of a wonderful sporting achievement, it’s easy to get carried away and, perhaps, overrate what we have just seen at the expense of great deeds from the past. But even against that background, what Limerick hurlers achieved in the second-half of Sunday’s Munster Final was extraordinary.

They looked a beaten docket at half-time. Trailing by ten points to a Jason Forde inspired and a fiercely committed Tipperary, the All-Ireland champions were in serious trouble. They had conceded two goals directly from opposition puck-outs to Jake Morris and Bubbles O’Dwyer, and so many of their marquee players were off the pace.

In fact, Tipperary could have been ahead by more. With Dan McCormack playing deep to free up Brendan Maher as their sweeper, they created a world of chances with Forde – the most under-rated forward in the game – rifling over a series of points from all angles and distances. Limerick were all at sea and only Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey were having a significant impact on the action.

But nobody could have envisaged the sensational turnaround in the third quarter. Within 18 minutes, a resurgent Limerick had gone a point ahead as reserves Aaron Gillane and Dan Morrissey added fresh vigour to their challenge at opposite ends of the field. It was like watching two different matches as Tipp were simply overwhelmed.

Their older generation really sagged in the unforgiving temperatures and by the time their management made changes, Limerick had already taking control. On the scoreboard, Tipp were still in it, but their players must have been in a state of shock over how a big lead had been so quickly and so ruthlessly wiped out. Limerick’s younger legs and sheer physical power were now dictating the terms of engagement.

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.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Epic Portlaoise battle highlights what minor level is now missing

Published

on

Galway midfielder Kieran Hanrahan breaking away from Kilkenny’s Harry Shine during the 2020 All-Ireland Minor hurling final at O'Moore Park on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHAT unfolded at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise last Saturday evening again puts a negative slant on the GAA’s decision at the 2016 Congress to reduce the age limit for minor competition from U18 to U17 and the U21 grade to U20.
Sure, there were issues with Leaving Cert exams and hold-ups in fixtures at senior level due to the previous under-age structures, but the competitiveness of the minor grade has been drastically impacted by restricting it to U17s, while the former U21 competition carried more prestige than the current U20 championship.
These were hardly intractable problems in the first place, but it is another example of the GAA’s continuous meddling with their competitions and the rule book. On the other hand, you sometimes wonder do Congress delegates sleepwalk their way through proceedings by not anticipating the impact of certain decisions at ground level until it’s too late.
Back to O’Moore Park. Due to Covid 19, the 2020 All-Ireland minor hurling championship was run off about a year behind schedule and the upshot was that many players had reached 18 by the time it came to enter combat. In effect, it was the way things used to be and the resulting increase in intensity and physicality was welcome.
Galway and Kilkenny locked horns in a gripping battle on Saturday evening and there was no holding back to the exchanges. You just don’t have that at U17 level because the players are not nearly as well physically developed. The minor grade is currently a pale imitation of its former glory.
That reality was confirmed in the delayed 2020 championship with the All-Ireland final serving up a compelling struggle for supremacy. Early on, it seemed Galway were about to overwhelm Kilkenny as they established a seven-point lead but, by the end of the game, they needed a brilliantly created goal from Liam Collins to carry the day.

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending