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Galway footballers have nothing to lose

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Galway's Fiontán Ó Curraoin and Mayo's Aidan O'Shea who will renew rivalry in Sunday's Connacht football final at McHale Park.

FEW if any Galway supporters leaving Pearse Stadium on May 19 of last year could have imagined that, just over one year on, they would be facing into a Connacht Final clash with Mayo in 2014 with anything less than trepidation.

Followers of the maroon and white had just seen the Tribesmen lose by 4-16 to 0-11 to their biggest rivals on home soil and it was hard to imagine any time in history when there was a bigger gulf between the West of Ireland’s biggest footballing rivals.

But time heals, teams evolve, and at least now there is some hope that Alan Mulholland’s men can do their county some justice, and restore pride in Castlebar, rather than capitulate as they did so drastically 14 months ago.

Galway redeemed themselves in last year’s qualifiers, provided a bit of hope in the second half of this year’s Allianz Football League, and there was a lot to enthuse about in the comfortable victories over London and Sligo in their two championship games so far.

Since the axing of both Johnny Duane and Eoin Concannon from the panel due to “internal reasons” just a week before the Sligo game, there has been a real unity of purpose and togetherness about the panel even if they are rated as 7/2 outsiders for Sunday’s clash with their greatest rivals.

This young Galway team has had to put up with a lot of stick in recent years, but they mean business, and they really have nothing to lose against a team with far higher expectations after reaching back-to-back All-Ireland finals.

A Galway win would be a shock, an honourable defeat would still leave them in decent fettle for the qualifiers, and they are surely unlikely to fall apart as alarmingly as 14 months ago when Mayo’s attackers ran through their defence with such ease that their followers ended up feeling sorry for the home fans in the end.

The 3-17 to 0-7 demolition of London in Ruislip may have been something of an anti-climax, but it showed that Mulholland’s men had the right attitude at a venue where other teams from the province have struggled in recent years.

There was no shouting from the rooftops after the five point win over Sligo, either, but there was an admirable work-rate throughout that five point win which suggested that the days of the men in maroon having a soft underbelly – so ruthlessly exposed by Mayo last year – might just have come to an end.

The new midfield partnership of Fiontan O Curraoin and Thomas Flynn, comrades in arms in two All-Ireland U-21 victories in three years, appeared to be coming of age nicely on that glorious midsummer evening at Markievicz Park.

Their match-up with the Mayo midfielders, two from the O’Shea brothers and Jason Gibbons, promises to be one of the most mouth-watering tussles of Sunday’s provincial final – in a sector where Eddie Hoare should have a key role to play.

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

Connacht Tribune

Strong third quarter proves the key to Galway’s victory

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Galway’s Niamh Hanniffy on the ball against Clare’s Sinead Conlon during Saturday's All-Ireland senior camogie championship group tie at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway 2-12

Clare 2-6

Eanna O’Reilly at Kenny Park

THE Galway senior camogie team made it two wins from two in their championship campaign, overcoming a hard-working Clare side on a hot afternoon in Kenny Park last Saturday.

A strong third quarter performance from Cathal Murray’s side, during which they outscored their opponents by 2-3 to 0-1, saw Galway take control of the contest. Although they conceded two late goals to the visitors, the Tribeswomen finished strongly with the last three points of the game to record a comfortable win.

Clare brought impressive physicality and work rate in the first half, and it was clear that the home side weren’t going to have it all their own way. The visitors tackled hard and closed down space for the Tribeswomen, particularly in the opening half, forcing Galway to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Aoife Donohue opened the scoring in the fourth minute, after a good attacking move involving the McGrath sisters.

The next ten minutes were quite scrappy, with both sides trying to take a foothold in a congested middle third. Chloe Morey pointed two frees for the Banner to put them ahead in the 13th minute, but Galway replied immediately at the other end. Some good work from Siobhán McGrath saw her win possession under pressure and play a pass to Catherine Finnerty, who pointed impressively.

Siobhán McGrath edged Galway ahead with a pointed free, before Morey equalised with her third to leave the sides at 0-3 apiece at the water break. Clare were competing very well but spurned some good point scoring opportunities in the first quarter. They went ahead however, with a good point from Morey, before Niamh McGrath pointed a free from the right wing to equalise. Niamh Kilkenny then got a terrific score, after making a great block on Clare’s Róisín McMahon, to put the home side in front by the minimum at half time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Tribesmen only come to life when game done and dusted

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Galway's Jason Flynn shoots to the net for his first goal in the closing stages of Saturday's All-Ireland hurling qualifier in Thurles. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile.

Waterford 1-30

Galway 3-20

IN a way, it might have been better if Galway hadn’t tantalisingly teased us about how things could have worked out so differently during their unexpected final quarter resurgence in this spell-binding All-Ireland hurling qualifier at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday.

Nobody wants to see their team beaten out the gate, but if that had been the Tribesmen’s fate – and for three quarters of the game it looked the only outcome – the result would have been more palatable to digest on the basis that the men in maroon just ran into a vastly superior force on the day.

Instead, Galway belatedly showed what they had in their locker in astonishingly reducing a yawning 16-point deficit to just three points by the 70th minute. They had all the momentum as 14-man Waterford were clinging on for dear life.

Nearly seven minutes of injury-time remained on the clock and the 4,400 sundrenched attendance stood on the brink of witnessing the greatest comeback in the history of inter-county hurling.

But typical of the inconsistency which continues to scourge Galway at the top level, their grandstand finish stalled and, significantly, Waterford somehow found the necessary reserves of stamina and character to land four of the last five scores.

On the balance of play, any outcome other than a Waterford victory would have been a travesty. They hurled Galway off the park for 55 minutes with their searing pace and support lines of running leaving their opponents chasing shadows.

A measure of Waterford’s dominance in the opening half, for instance, was that their half-back line of Calum Lyons, Shane Bennett and Kieran Bennett scored more from play than the entire Galway forward sector.

All over the field, Waterford’s hard running saw them carve open their opponents at will. Galway had no answers and not even their most die-hard supporter could argue against the merits of the Deise’s interval lead of a dozen points, 1-18 to 0-9.

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

Galway a beaten docket long before the end at Croke Park

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Galway's Johnny Heaney comes under pressure from Oisín Mullen of Mayo during Sunday's Connacht Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile.

By Pádraic Ó Ciardha

THERE are games where the margin on the scoreboard doesn’t reflect the true gap between the sides and last Sunday’s Connacht Football Final certainly felt like one of them. With 66 minutes on the clock, Galway trailed Mayo by just two points, a kick of the ball between them, but in reality, the Tribesmen looked a beaten docket long before then. On the scale of six point defeats, this one was a whopper.

In last year’s Connacht Final in Pearse Stadium, Galway recovered from a poor first half display to come within a point of Mayo. This year, Pádraic Joyce’s side threw away a strong position at half-time, five points to the good, with a capitulation as bad as any seen from the county in recent or not so recent memory. The post-mortem will be a long and difficult one for both players and management as they must wait until next spring for the chance to put things right.

In truth, that five point cushion at half-time papered over a lot of cracks in Galway’s first half performance. By their own manager’s account, Galway only reached 30 or 40 per cent of their potential in that first period. The problem was that those levels plummeted in the second half.

For their part, James Horan said after the game that there was no panic in the Mayo dressing room at half-time and, on reflection, their contentment was justified. Mayo had the majority of possession during the first half and were it not for some awful shooting, could have been much closer, or even level, at half-time.

Even Galway’s goals came thanks to, in large parts, Mayo switching off, although Shane Walsh still deserves huge credit for his role in both. For Walsh’s goal in the 19th minute, Lee Keegan literally stood still as the Galway captain blazed past him to pick up the rebound from Paul Conroy’s shot before blasting past Rob Hennelly in goal.

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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