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Inside Track

Disjointed hurlers all over the shop in Semple Stadium

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IT was around this time last year that the Galway hurlers’ season took off in the league relegation play-off replay thumping of Dublin, but supporters travelling to Thurles last Sunday hoping that they would similarly ignite in the 2013 semi-final of the competition against Kilkenny were left bitterly disappointed after a poor and disorganised effort.

By the end of the match, Galway were, quite frankly, shapeless and many of the players appeared confused about their exact roles after a myriad of personal and positional switches – highlighted by the two starting midfielders, Joseph Cooney and Iarla Tannian, finishing in the half back line – clearly impacted on the fluency of the team and caused some understandable disruption in their ranks.

In mitigation, Galway had lost team captain Fergal Moore just ten minutes into the semi-final when he had to be stretchered off following a thunderous collision with Walter Walsh and, undoubtedly, the long hold up didn’t do his colleagues any favours. The departure of the Turloughmore player led to the introduction of Andy Smith at wing back, but before the restructured rearguard had even time to settle, the management bafflingly called Niall Donohue ashore, with young Paul Killeen coming into the last line of defence.

Donohue had admittedly fluffed one clearance and Galway did appear to be under some pressure down their left flank, but to make a change so quickly (about seven minutes) after Moore’s departure appeared a panic move and was hardly justified. Furthermore, Smith was only left stationed on the wing for a few minutes which begs the question why Tony Og Regan, a recognised half-back, wasn’t the first port of call for the mentors?

To be honest, there was also a strong case for having a look at Shane Kavanagh, who rejoined the panel in the Spring but has had no involvement in the league. Kevin Hynes was under serious pressure at full back last Sunday and, yet, despite all the tinkering the management did in Thurles, the one change which was obvious didn’t happen. In fairness to the combative Sarsfields player, the quality of ball put in front of Richie Hogan in the second-half was exceptional.

That immediately, of course, confirms suspicions that the Kilkenny outfield players were not being put under the kind of pressure you’d expect at this level. Between them, midfielders Michael Rice and Lester Ryan, landed five points from play and, occasionally, the Kilkenny men had so much room and time on the ball, you’d wonder were Galway short-staffed. Certainly, the team’s overall work-rate was a long way behind last Summer and the extent of Kilkenny’s dominance was reflected by people departing Semple Stadium less than ten minutes into the second-half.

The ‘where to play’ Joe Canning conundrum has also to be grasped. Having floated around on the wing, he was only moved to full forward when the game was over. Canning did thread some wonderfully precise passes to his inside men, but his failure to register a single score from play tells its own story. He must be restored to the edge of the square for the championship. In that attack, both Damien Hayes and Conor Cooney were taken off, while David Burke finished up at midfield, still arguably his most effective position.

No matter how you attempt to dress it up, this was a bad day at the office for Galway and the result won’t have done their confidence levels any good ahead of the Leinster championship. In retrospect, the convincing loss to Kilkenny shouldn’t really come as a surprise as the team hadn’t really sparked in the group campaign and could just as easily have ended up in relegation trouble as making the league semi-finals.

Few Galway players escaped the Thurles wreckage, but Colm Callanan, who made two brilliant reflex saves from Richie Power; Aidan Harte and Cyril Donnellan were notable exceptions. All three made major contributions, with Cooney very impressive in the opening 25 minutes and Moore typically hurtling into everything before paying the price for his own bravery. Now the management’s big job is to get the rest of the squad up to their level.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

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

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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.

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Connacht Tribune

Fearsome Limerick hit new high by tearing Tipperary rivals apart

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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.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Epic Portlaoise battle highlights what minor level is now missing

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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.

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