Date Published: 18-May-2011
IT was nearly the worst form of sporting penance. The All-Ireland Gaelic football championship may have finally kicked off on home soil last Sunday, but the first round Ulster clash between Donegal and Antrim in Ballybofey turned out to be a dreadful affair as the rival teams took negative tactics to the extreme. It was a forgettable match in every sense of the word.
The statistics back up that analysis. Neither team could manage a score from play in the opening 21 minutes until Donegal wing forward Ryan Bradley split the posts, while Antrim appeared even more clueless up front as it took until the 33rd minute for Paddy Cunningham to finally open their account outside of frees. An interval scoreline of 0-6 to 0-3 in the home side’s favour perfectly reflected the frustrating over-commitment to defence.
The game was a shocking spectacle as Donegal, in particular, were determined to get as many players behind the ball as possible and though the county achieved its first Ulster championship victory in four years, their failure to be more ambitious against a team of Antrim’s modest ability does not bode well for their prospects of a protracted summer campaign.
All through the game, Donegal flooded their own half of the field and while their ‘swarm defence’ ultimately delivered a winning outcome last Sunday, Jim McGuinness’ squad will need to be far more adventurous and positive against the better teams. A total return of 1-10 summed up their priorities against Antrim, but as an advertisement for Gaelic football, this offering was in dire need of censorship.
Despite the woeful nature of Antrim’s challenge, Donegal were still only four points ahead nearing the end of the match and it took a neatly taken goal from wing forward MarkMcHugh to wrap up the contest. The failure of the much hyped Michael Murphy to register a single score from play is an additional worry for the Glenties men who will, no doubt, justify their tactics in the context of getting the right result.
Unfortunately, Gaelic football these days is nearly all about curtailing the opposition instead of focussing on attack. At least, the better teams like Kerry and Cork have never lost sight of the fact that if you don’t score enough, it doesn’t matter how well you defend. There is no point in having quality forwards like Colm Copper or Donncha O’Connor in your ranks, if they are back in their own half of the field defending.
Galway, to their credit, have rarely resorted to the massed defence strategy even under Tomas Ó Flathárta’s brief reign so far – the Kerry native wasn’t shy about utilising the tactic when over Westmeath – and the manner in which the county U-21s stormed to the All-Ireland title recently was a sharp and timely reminder of the benefits of traditional, direct football.. Alan Mulholland’s charges simply played on the front foot with their ‘have a go nature’ proving critical to a title triumph which must bode well for football in the county.
If Donegal had resorted to an all out attacking policy against Antrim, they would surely have carried the day by at least ten points, but they simply took no chances in a performance which bore all the hallmarks of a team determined not to lose. From that perspective alone, the end justified the means for McGuinness and his mentors last Sunday even if the watching TV audience were given little or nothing to enthuse about. Donegal may have stopped their rot in Ulster, but their tactics left the rest of us utterly deflated.
In a broader sense, the GAA championship season has again started with a whimper rather than a bang. Two weeks earlier a forewarned Roscommon made short work of the New York exiles – a result which appears to have slipped under the radar – but these low key fixtures don’t excite the neutral or help to generate much debate. Maybe, it’s time for the GAA to condense their championship season from June to September as there are still no shortage of big rugby and soccer (cross channel) going ahead in May.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.