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Inside Track

Cunningham in line of fire after latest capitulation

John McIntyre

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The GCH U17 4x200m relay team which were gold medal winners at the All-Ireland Juvenile Indoor Championships in Athlone IT. Left to right: Sean Kilmartin, Claregalway, Jack Dempsey, Moylough, Luke Shaughnessey, Caherlistrane, and Kacper Poniatowski, Headford.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT wouldn’t be Kilkenny’s way of doing things, but you could partially condone Galway’s feeble second-half display against Dublin last Sunday week – after all, they already through to the National Hurling League quarter-finals – but the excuses are very thin on the ground for their weekend wreakage in Waterford which has piled the pressure on manager Anthony Cunningham ahead of the championship.

I can’t remember the last time Galway hurlers lost four of their last five league matches, but that run of bad results is only the tip of the iceberg. There is little semblance of a settled team; star player Joe Canning still has no fixed abode; the central defensive positions remain up for grabs; while the lack of both energy and purpose against Waterford last Sunday was alarming.

If the league is regularly used by counties to put a shape on their championship selections, then Galway have failed that test miserably in 2015. I appreciate injuries have hampered the team management in this regard in the current campaign, but the Tribesmen were again shockingly disjointed in Walsh Park where they were one more easily tactically outmanoeuvred by their youthful hosts.

Facing their bogey team away from home, Galway needed to hit the ground running but, inexplicably, decided to face the elements after winning the toss. It came back to haunt them as Waterford sauntered to a 0-14 to 0-5 interval advantage with Pauric Mahony punishing a series of undisciplined tackles by the opposition. With wing forward Kevin Moran playing deep and Waterford flooding the midfield sector, Galway just didn’t seem to possess the nous to counteract that hardly surprising strategy.

With the hard working Andy Smith their only scorer from play in the opening half, Galway had plenty of catching up to do, but when they have cut the deficit to four within ten minutes of the resumption, they had given themselves a realistic platform of a successful and morale boosting revival. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the men in maroon as they then went 21 minutes without a score and could only manage two more points before the finish.

Frankly, it was an embarrassing capitulation and must leave the fragile confidence of the squad in pieces after a campaign which began promisingly enough only to gradually disintegrate. Perhaps, Galway don’t have the necessary depth of quality talent at their disposal anymore, but supporters are entitled to expect better than this. I was shocked, for instance, to see the inexperienced Padraig Mannion, a neat tidy corner back, start as defensive anchor. Surely Greg Lally was worth another run at centre back?

There are other instances of players being moved around the place, notably Joseph Cooney, but more worrying is the fact that Galway’s team-work and link up play is so far behind the top teams. Since the All-Ireland final replay of 2012, the squad have lost their way completely and the lack of leadership in their ranks when things start going wrong remains disturbing. They were made to look second raters last Sunday by a young Waterford outfit who at least knew what the game plan was and how to implement it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Inconsistent Covid restrictions just driving people up the walls

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Lynsey McKey in action against Paula Doran of Bohemians during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

OUR patience with Ireland’s ongoing battle against Covid-19 is running out. We are tired of the constant negative narrative, the scaremongering and regular qualification of any good news. The Government and NPHET continue to kill the morale of their own people with inconsistent coronavirus restrictions.

We can be in the middle of one wave of the virus and the prophets of doom are already warning about the next one. Caution has been taken to extremes and it’s only driving a large proportion of the population up the walls, especially those involved with sport. Some of the restrictions are now doing more harm than good.

The danger of sticking your head above the parapet is that you are immediately accused of not respecting or ignoring a public health emergency; that you are in some way complicit in keeping the virus on these shores longer than necessary; that you are indifferent to the suffering of thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

I get that, but I am none of the above. I belong to a large cohort of people who are applying logic and common sense to what is going on. For instance, there is no earthly good reason why golf courses and tennis courts have to remain out of bounds until near the end of the month, or why team sport – at all levels – played outdoors isn’t also back up and running, at least in terms of training.

We are constantly told that being outdoors reduces the risk of virus transmissions significantly; that it is a much safer environment compared to indoor settings. Yet, the Government and NPHET are not helping us practice what they preach. There are thousands of young sports people all over the country who are being driven close to insanity; cooked up with little to do.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Boss Kenny can’t buy a break as dream job turns into a nightmare

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Therese Kinnevey and Shauna Brennan leading this charge against Cork City WFC during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

STEPHEN Kenny looked a tormented soul after the Republic of Ireland’s shock World Cup qualifying loss to the minnows of Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. The Dubliner is only a few months in charge of the team, but everything that could go wrong has gone wrong since he took over from Mick McCarthy.

After the reasonable promise of Ireland’s away defeat to Serbia the previous Wednesday, the visit of Luxembourg to Dublin was understandably tagged as a match Seamus Coleman and company simply had to win and, in the process, finally give some overdue momentum to Kenny’s tenure.

Unfortunately, Ireland just didn’t perform or deliver against the 98th rated team in the world. Instead, the match appeared to be trundling to a nil-all draw conclusion when Luxembourg stunned their hosts with a well-taken 85th winner from Gerson Rodrigues. Suddenly, a bad night had turned into a disastrous one.

With injuries again hitting Kenny’s selection plans – Galway’s Aaron Connolly was among the absentees – there was another youthful appeal to his line up, including a debut for 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who did well in challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, the rest of the team were found wanting.

The reality now is that Ireland’s World Cup ambitions are already over after just two matches, a scenario which has cranked up the pressure on the team’s beleaguered boss. Kenny just can’t buy a break in the job. Between Covid, absentees and injuries, his time at the helm has been spent trying to cobble together teams to represent Ireland. He is constantly dealing with a compromised hand.

In those circumstances, any manager would struggle and though Kenny has a strong winning pedigree in League of Ireland football, this is a different world altogether and already, you get a sense that the vultures are circling, notwithstanding the FAI’s public vote of confidence expressed by Chairperson Ray Barrett in the wake of the Luxembourg defeat.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Brilliant duo Blackmore and De Bromhead rewrite record books

John McIntyre

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Galway amateur jockey Eoin Mahon and Beating The Odds (on right) clearing the last on their way to victory over Difficult Decision in the Leugh Handicap Hurdle at Thurles on Saturday. Photo: Caroline Norris.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HEADING into last week’s Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, even the dogs on the street knew that the Irish raiders were in for a bonanza, but few anticipated such an unprecedented wipe out of the home challenge. It was getting embarrassing by the end of the fourth day as Irish horse after Irish horse stormed up the hill – often in glorious isolation.

Ultimately, the UK had to be content with a mere five winners over the 28-race programme with not a solitary success registered over hurdles – a truly astonishing scenario. Time and again, some of their supposedly big guns were found wanting in the Cotswolds, with only Nicky Henderson’s pair, the brilliant Shishkin and Chantry Horse, recording Grade One successes.

For Ireland to land 23 races at the Olympics of the sport underlines how much the balance of power has switched at Cheltenham in modern times. Only staying hurdler Galmoy had prevented an Irish whitewash in 1987 and ’88, while the raiding party returned empty-handed from the meeting in 1989.

Of course, Cheltenham was only a three-day festival back then, but the Irish dominance over the past few years is still remarkable. Sure, we have exceptional trainers in Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott, and some wealthy individuals are splashing out on the best of thoroughbreds coming up for sale, but British National Hunt racing is on its knees in terms of quality after last week’s drubbing.

The poor prizemoney on offer in the UK is clearly a big factor in British based owners – like Cheverly Park – sending their horses across the Irish Sea to be trained, while some cross-channel trainers have already publicly questioned their own racing programme in the context of too many handicaps and not enough races at the top end level.

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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