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It’s do or die for Galway hurlers facing Tipperary

Stephen Glennon

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Galway's top player Conor Cooney leaves Kilkenny's JJ Delaney trailing in his wake during last Saturday evening's Leinster hurling semi-final in Tullamore. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

GALWAY supporters will be hoping that there will be a kick in the county’s hurlers when they face Tipperary in the All-Ireland qualifiers in the Premier County’s own back yard of Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday (7pm).

In the wake of the Leinster SHC semi-final replay defeat to Kilkenny last weekend, the Galway set-up – and in particular, captain Joe Canning – has come for heavy criticism in some quarters and, consequently, you would expect the Tribesmen to mount a defence of some sorts.

To be fair to Canning, who didn’t the influence on the replay as he had on the drawn game, it beggars belief that a player of amateur status should be singled out and come in for the same volume of criticism that a highly paid Premiership player in England would.

In that respect, a headline in a national newspaper this week suggesting the talented Portumna sharpshooter was only capable of the “odd circus trick” was an insult to the player and, no doubt, hurtful to his family, to his club and to Galway hurling.

That Canning should be targeted in such a fashion and that the column was the work of former Galway manager Ger Loughnane simply rubs salt into the wounds. It warrants a response from the player himself, his Galway team-mates and, indeed, the county’s supporters.

Consequently, Saturday’s clash is not only about championship survival but it is also a test of the Galway squad’s unity – of their values and principles – and if ever there was a time to circle the wagons, then this is certainly it.

With no injuries to report, Cunningham says, despite Saturday’s defeat, the players are “raring to go” and he stresses there is still a great deal of positivity among the set-up. “It’s about hurling at that same level as we have done the last two days and giving that same level of performance,” he says.

“There was very little in it [against Kilkenny] in the two games – there was just a puck of the ball in it at one stage of the second half – and people have to know that.

“So, there is still huge positivity in the squad and we have played very good hurling both days. Of course, though, we are still looking for an improvement every day we go out,” adds the Galway manager.

That said, it remains to be seen what direction Cunningham and selectors Eugene Cloonan and Damien Curley will take the team when they announce the starting fifteen on Saturday. Overall, the defensive unit hurled quite well against the Cats given the quality of ball supplied to the Kilkenny forwards.

In that respect, there may be some surgery to the midfield and offensive lines, especially given only two forwards – Conor Cooney and Jason Flynn – found the target from play against Kilkenny.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Sporting stars and coaches offer ideas on how to make it

Stephen Glennon

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Carnmore's Paul Kilgannon who interviewed successful coaches and sports stars for his latest book: Be The Best You Can Be In Sport: A Book for Irish Youth.

WITH contributions from 50 sports stars and coaches, Paul Kilgannon’s second book, ‘Be The Best You Can Be In Sport: A Book for Irish Youth’ offers a succinct blueprint for any youth looking to excel in their chosen sport – and, indeed, for those coaching aspiring athletes.

In recent years, Kilgannon’s reputation has grown, particularly since he released his first book, ‘The CARVER Framework’, which focused on the development of the child and young player through a coaching model which the Carnmore native formulated.

While that book was a great success, his latest offering, released just before the Christmas, looks set to surpass it given the amounts of plaudits it has received locally and nationally, with the likes of The Irish Examiner and The Irish Times referencing it among their sports books of 2020.

Then again, one only has to look at those who contributed to the book to see why. They include Henry Shefflin and Eamonn O’Shea (hurling), Kieran Donaghy and Johnny Cooper (Gaelic football), Stuart Lancaster and Andy Friend (rugby) and Mick McCarthy and Kevin Doyle (soccer).

There are also contributions from a number of Galway coaches and sports stars, among them Corofin footballers Gary Sice and Liam Silke, sports psychologist Tony Óg Regan, physio David Hanly and expert game analyst Dave Morris.

One area Kilgannon was also conscious to promote was young females in sport and some of the role models who lent their experience are ladies footballers Rena Buckley and Valerie Mulcahy (Cork) and Sinead Aherne (Dublin), former Republic of Ireland international Claire Scanlan, Ireland rugby player Lindsay Peat and athletics star Nadia Power.

“That (having the female perspective) was something that was really important,” says Kilgannon. “I tied in early with the 20×20 group and they got me a few (interviewees). I struggled with female coaches, though. I didn’t get one or two of them over the line, and there is not a huge body of them there or, at least, that I’m aware of.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Daithí Burke who is likely to be Galway’s only All Star between hurling and football in 2020.

John McIntyre

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Daithí Burke who is likely to be Galway's only All Star between hurling and football in 2020.

NINE Galway players between hurling and football are in line for All-Stars awards in 2020, but the county may have to settle for just one honour.
Aidan Harte, Daithí Burke and Padraic Mannion are all nominated in defence for the hurling team, with Joe Canning, Conor Whelan, Brian Concannon and Cathal Mannion shortlisted for recognition up front.
Galway’s two nominations for the football team – which is set to be dominated by six-in-a-row champions Dublin – are team captain Shane Walsh and the long-serving Paul Conroy.
The anticipation is that only Daithí Burke will make the final cut – a scenario which would see the Turloughmore man win a fifth All-Star award, emulating the feat of Galway greats Joe Cooney, Pete Finnerty and Joe Canning.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht aiming to close the deal this time in refixed clash

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Connacht’s Alex Wootton breaking the tackle of Munster’s Chris Farrell at the Sportsground in their previous outing. The Westerners host the Ospreys in a re-arranged PRO14 tie on Sunday.

RUGBY returns to the Sportsground on Sunday as Connacht take on the Ospreys in a re-arranged PRO14 clash that will kick off at 3pm. Two rounds of European action have been postponed, the Six Nations is on the horizon and players are just keen to be playing rugby, so rarely has a simple league clash against a Welsh region brought so much enthusiasm within the competing squads.

Connacht will be looking to maintain their position among the top three in their conference over the next couple of months. A place in the March 27 final seems beyond them after the narrow defeat to Munster last time out, but securing their place in the Champions Cup for a third successive season would be a major achievement. Head coach Andy Friend underlined the mood in the camp this week.

“We were disappointed to see the European games postponed but I’m pleased we have a fixture to slot in here. This is good for us. It was also good to have one week away from the Sportsground. There’s always a lot going on but just not to have to come in to the office for a few days was good for everyone. People bounced back in this morning and there’s a spring in their step.”

This tie fell by the wayside in November and once the European competitions were postponed two weeks ago, both parties jumped at the chance of bringing the fixture forward to keep momentum going with the Ospreys having won five of their last six games in all competitions and Connacht coming off some high octane if ultimately disappointing run of results during the same period – the one exception being the famous win in the RDS against Leinster.

The main feature in Connacht’s defeats has been indecision and critical errors in the closing minutes of games. Against Racing 92, Bristol, Ulster and Munster, Connacht had late chances to either win games or at least secure some much needed bonus points and on each occasion, the westerners failed to keep their composure and execute. Friend spoke about the impact of those mistakes this week.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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