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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

Joyce is right – Galway better off to target league glory than muddle on

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Galway’s Matthew Tierney on the ball against Mayo’s Conor Loftus during Saturday's National Football League tie at MacHale Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

YOU could sympathise with Padraic Joyce’s frustration after Saturday evening’s rip-roaring National Football League clash at MacHale Park. Better game management in the closing minutes would have seen Galway over the line and dealt an early season blow to the new Kevin McStay led Mayo management.

In shades of their league tie against Monaghan in June of 2021 when Galway ended up being relegated after holding a winning hand, they were almost home, albeit clinging to a slender one-point advantage. Mayo were pressing desperately in trying to salvage a draw, but their hopes appeared dashed when Ryan O’Donoghue’s free from the left sideline dropped short.

Referee Joe McQuillan was about to blow the final whistle as Cathal Sweeney emerged with the ball only for the Salthill/Knocknacarra man to cough up possession by attempting a risky kick pass to a teammate. The delivery was over-hit, and the lively Donoghue pounced to bravely drive over the equaliser to send the Mayo fans in the big crowd of almost 14,000 into raptures.

Mayo’s second last point was also avoidable. Again, Galway had possession with Peter Cooke, who had just landed a mighty long-range free. Instead, however, of trying to force his way up the field, the Maigh Cuilinn player turned back towards his own posts, came under pressure, and ended up giving the ball away cheaply.  Galway players should remember that when under the cosh, the sideline is your friend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway under a little pressure to stop Mayo’s early-season gallop

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Hall of Fame award winner Tommy Joe Gilmore with his daughter Olivia, his son Brian and daughter in-law Karen Monks at the Metronic Galway Sports Stars banquet in the Galway Bay Hotel on Friday night. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

We won’t even have reached the end of January and the paths of Connacht’s great footballing rivals will have already crossed twice, with the prospect of more clashes between Galway and Mayo before the end of the inter-county season in late July.

The early 2023 bragging rights have gone to Mayo manager Kevin McStay after their defeat of the Tribesmen in the semi-final of the FBD League – a competition they went on to win last weekend with a comfortable 0-13 to 0-9 victory over Roscommon in the Connacht Air Dome.

Though both teams were in understandably experimental mode, Mayo managed to secure this pre-season competition for the first time in a decade with late points from Cillian O’Connor and Conor Loftus sealing the deal. In the overall scheme of things, the FBD league doesn’t count for much but delivering some silverware so early into his tenure won’t do McStay’s management any harm.

Naturally, Mayo will be anxious to keep the momentum going in Saturday evening’s televised National League clash at MacHale Park, especially given that they narrowly failed to Galway in last year’s provincial championship. A first-half Johnny Heaney goal and some quality free-taking from Shane Walsh just about saw the Tribesmen through in the face of a late siege by the home team.

Galway boss Padraic Joyce kept a sense of perspective after that early season loss to Mayo a couple of weeks ago, but he was blunt enough in assessing the merits or otherwise of some of the players being trialled. Joyce is experienced in the post now and knows what he is looking for. And having led Galway to league promotion, the Connacht title and the All-Ireland final last year, he has earned that leverage to call it as he sees it.

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

Early reality check might prove a good thing for Galway footballers

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Galway’s Johnny Heaney secures possession against Mayo’s Jack Coyne during Saturday's Connacht FBD League semi-final in Bekan. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IF the Galway footballers and team management needed any reminding that their substantial progress in 2022 offers no guarantees for the season ahead, they would have got in spades in Bekan on Saturday evening. Losing a FBD League semi-final to arch-rivals Mayo is no big deal in itself, but does underline the reality that the Tribesmen can’t take for granted building on last year’s achievements. And that may be no bad thing in the long run.

Naturally, Padraic Joyce would have preferred if Galway had got over the line at the weekend, especially in the context of preventing Mayo building up early season momentum under new manager Kevin McStay. In the end, he was probably grateful his team were only three points adrift after a difficult second quarter.

When Mayo went 2-10 to 0-5 ahead early in the second-half, it appeared Galway might suffer a hiding. Their goals came from Jordan Carr and Paul Towey, with Matthew Ruane and Jordan Flynn dominant around midfield. Mayo were also performing with the greater energy.

Gradually, however, Galway got to the pitch of the battle, thanks in no small way to the telling contribution of substitute Tomo Culhane, a player who didn’t make the match-day squad for last year’s All-Ireland final. The Salthill/Knocknacarra clubman scored 2-2 after coming on to revive the Tribesmen’s challenge

With Matthew Tierney also finding the opposition net, Galway were belatedly building up a head off steam. Mayo, however, just did enough to hold on with Towey, Aiden Orme and Bryan Walsh picking off some invaluable points, although it took Rory Byrne’s late save from Nathan Grainger to keep their noses in front.

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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