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Inside Track

Galway hurling needs to take a leaf out of Clare’s book

Ciaran Tierney

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Inside Track with Ciaran Tierney

Where to now for Galway hurling? As virtually the entire hurling world celebrates in the afterglow of a truly phenomenal All-Ireland final replay, genuine delight at the success of our neighbours south of the border has to be tempered by frustration that the 2014 campaign never really took off for a Galway side which was listed among the title favourites at the start of the year.

As delegates from the clubs sit down to pass judgement on a poor year for the county’s senior team this week, there is no doubt that Clare’s thrilling win has electrified hurling people all over the country amid delight that the dominance of the ‘big three’ – Kilkenny, Cork, and Tipperary – dating back to 1999 has at last been broken.

Hopefully, now, the sport will open up to the less-traditional counties in the coming years, to match the revolution of the 1990s, and players in counties such as Waterford, Limerick, Wexford, and Dublin should have an extra pep in their step when they return for Winter training. Kilkenny just don’t seem to have the same aura about them, or appear to be so far ahead of the pack, any more.

Clare’s fourth All-Ireland success provided a fitting end to a fantastic championship. It seemed to come out of the blue, as there was certainly no basis for thinking that they would end up as 2013 All-Ireland champions when they hosted Galway in a dour National Hurling League game before a crowd of about 3,000 down in Ennis in early March.

But a Banner side featuring a teenage Shane O’Donnell at corner forward showed character and grit in abundance that day – attributes which held them in good stead all Summer – to hurl resolutely against the wintry elements in the second half and forge out a narrow 0-18 to 1-13 win.

The only memorable aspect from that tie from a Galway point of view was how much the visitors relied on Joe Canning, who hit 1-9 of the 1-13, and a hugely impressive Davy Glennon – the Tribesmen’s one true ‘find’ of this year’s League – in an underperforming attack.

John Conlon was Clare’s inspiration that day, hitting three superb long-range points in a row when Galway had the backing of the elements in the third quarter, and it was clear that Davy Fitzgerald was in the early process of ‘blooding’ a promising, if extremely youthful, side.

By way of contrast, Galway failed to nail down key positions during a disappointing League or to build on the huge promise they showed in reaching last year’s final.

By the time the sides met again in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles, Clare were on a roll. The Banner had learned a lot from overcoming Wexford in extra time of their qualifier, despite shooting 20 wides, and there was a lethal intensity about them at Semple Stadium that an extremely flat Galway side could not cope with.

Anthony Cunningham’s men failed to deal with the Banner’s new-look sweeper system, took off both starting midfielders, and would have been annihilated but for two second half goals which came somewhat against the run of play. As it transpired, they had no complaints about exiting the championship on a scoreline of 1-23 to 2-14.

It was the seventh time in eight years that the Tribesmen were out of the championship before the Galway Races, despite their massive achievement in overcoming a seemingly unbeatable Kilkenny in last year’s Leinster final and taking them to an All-Ireland Final replay last September.

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

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway square up to Limerick a little earlier than we anticipated

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Padraic Mannion breaking away from Tipperary’s Paul Flynn during Saturday's All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

After the initial skirmishes in the hurling championship, the widespread perception was that Limerick and Galway were the two best teams out there, leading to an anticipation that next month’s final would end being a repeat pairing of the 2018 decider.

Of course, that assumption was premised on both teams staying winning, but after Galway were caught napping by Kilkenny in the Leinster Final all bets were off. Now as it transpires Galway and Limerick will be meeting after all except it will be earlier than expected – a semi-final instead of a final.

From the outset, Galway have been burdened with the mantle of being the only team which has the capacity to stand up to Limerick physically. It’s a fair assessment when you shift through the imposing figures on the Tribesmen team, notably Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Fintan Burke, Gearóid McInerney, Joe Canning and Conor Cooney.

They have several other six footers plus as well and given the vast experience in their ranks, it’s probably accurate to suggest that if Galway can’t stop Limerick no team can. But how good are Limerick? I for one don’t think they are quite as formidable as some commentators would have us believe.

If we go back to the 2018 final, remember Galway had come into that game possibly fatigued after being taken to replays by both Kilkenny and Clare. They conceded three goals from turnovers; were eight points down after 68 minutes, and were still only beaten by a point as the Shannonsiders staggered over the line.

Furthermore, they were taken out in last year’s semi-final by an average Kilkenny team – granted their average is higher than everybody else’s – which ended up losing the final by 14 points to Tipperary. More recently, they had a lot of troubled passages in their Munster Final triumph over Waterford.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Missing out on the opportunities that lay ahead will haunt Galway

John McIntyre

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Galway football manager Padraic Joyce digests their Connacht final defeat to Mayo at Pearse Stadium on Sunday with members of his backroom team, Cian Breathnach and Michael Comer. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

NOBODY needed to tell Padraic Joyce the consequences of their narrow defeat to Mayo at a near-deserted Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Losing Connacht’s showpiece match was bad enough, but the real pain was realising that the Tribesmen’s enticing pathway to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 19 years had been completely closed off.

With an All-Ireland semi-final date against either Cork or Tipperary the reward for the winners of the Connacht title, there was a lot more at stake in Salthill than provincial glory. Had Galway got the better of Mayo, they would have fancied their chances against either of those opponents. Suddenly, they would be preparing for an All-Ireland final.

And Galway are one of those teams whose tradition suggests that they would be capable of anything in that environment. Sadly, they are now denied that prospect after a muddling performance against their arch Western foes. Yes, Mayo were the better team and spurned two goal chances, but it was still a match the home team could have won.

Though some of the officiating didn’t do the hosts any favour, it was Galway’s carelessness in possession which must really haunt them. Some of their players were turned over too easily, while their decision making going forward in the opening quarter also left a lot to be desired. Nobody could question the team’s spirit or desire, but they needed to mind ball much better.

Given their injury woes, together with no competitive championship prep for the final and the recent trauma of that league trouncing by Mayo, the hosts’ preparations were far from ideal but Joyce wasn’t inclined to go down the excuses road. He was understandably more frustrated with Galway’s own inadequacies and mistakes, along with the team’s modest scoring haul of 13 points.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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 hurlers must be careful but footballers have to go for it

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Rebecca Hennelly in the swing against Cork’s Laura Treacy during the All-Ireland senior camogie championship clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BASING a team’s worth and probable fortunes on one match alone has led many astray – look at the transformation in Cork hurlers in the space of a week – which means there has to be a certain amount of caution in assessing Galway’s chances against Kilkenny in Saturday evening’s provincial decider at Croke Park.

In contrast to the Rebels, the Tribesmen really hit the ground running in their opening championship outing by dismantling Wexford in a one-sided Leinster semi-final. On the evening, Galway were a revelation in sauntering to a 13-point victory. Getting their match-ups right and performing with admirable purpose, Shane O’Neill’s squad looked close to their All-Ireland winning form of 2017.

But are Galway that good? We will certainly know a lot more after their latest tussle with the Cats who are bound to provide a far more searching test than Wexford despite their staggering second-half collapse against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. Losing a 16-point lead is unheard off in the Brian Cody era and their defence struggled badly when ran at.

Kilkenny’s second-half woes, however, guarantee that they will be really up for the Galway match. Can you imagine the grief Cody has given the players in the interim? Remember too, when Kilkenny have a cause – like in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick – they bring an extra manic desire to the battleground. Galway need to be braced for that.

Yet, they remain hugely dependent on the inspirational TJ Reid to weave his magic up front, but he’s not getting any younger and one wonders will Galway hand the versatile Joseph Cooney the brief of not letting the Ballyhale clubman out of his sights. Obviously, Colin Fennelly is a danger too with his direct style of running, while the Tribesmen won’t need any reminding of the damage Walter Walsh can cause if on a going day.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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