If Alan Mulholland and his Galway charges are looking for a template to work off ahead of their Connacht final showdown with Mayo, they could do worse than tap into that employed to good effect by their female counterparts in this stirring provincial ladies senior decider at McHale Park on Sunday.
A commanding display based on an insatiable work ethic, unquestionable commitment, clever play and scintillating pace, the Galway ladies footballers were deserved victors of the CBE Cup – the Tribeswomen’s third such title in as many years.
Indeed, given that Galway were dominant in so many sectors of the field – they remarkably enjoyed 61% of the possession over the hour – they really should have won by more and that will not be lost on the management team of Kevin Reidy, Dave Mullally and Martina Cummins as they prepare for the All-Ireland series.
In all, Galway created 35 scoring chances but finishing with 17 scores on the board meant that their scoring return was less than 50%. That’s a statistic that will have to improve for bigger games ahead, especially as they may find it difficult to create as many chances against the likes of Cork and Monaghan.
That should not take away from what was a very commanding performance. By half-time they led 1-8 to 1-5 after a flowing Galway move involving the excellent Barbara Hannon and Lorna Joyce set up Caitriona Cormican for a superb ninth minute goal.
With Hannon, Annette Clarke (two frees), Joyce and the sprightly Louise Ward kicking a plethora of quality points, the visitors led 1-5 to 0-1 by the 18th minute and it looked as if they might just have this contest wrapped up by the break.
However, two things stood to Mayo over the 60 minutes and ensured they remained competitive. The first was that they were astute at securing possession from their own kick-outs and the second was that they had such an effective target woman in Cora Staunton in their attack.
In respect of the possession gained from the restarts, midfielder Claire Egan and wing-forward Kathryn Sullivan were two key figures for Mayo with each winning five.
Corner back Amy Bell was another option – although an alert Lucy Hannon robbed her of two – while captain Fiona McHale – although otherwise suffocated by player of the match Emer Flaherty, who pillaged three of Mayo’s restarts – and Cora Staunton (late on) also provided outlets.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway let 11-point slip in a thrilling minor battle
IT would be a tad simplistic to dub what was a hugely entertaining Connacht minor football semi-final as a game of two halves, given that Galway led by 11 points at one stage before Roscommon stormed back to eventually claim a remarkable victory at Tuam Stadium last Saturday.
The reality is a little more nuanced, in that Galway, on their first outing of the year, impressively carved Roscommon’s defence apart with an array of stylish attacking play for a 20-minute spell while playing with the wind at their backs. Outside of that period, though, Galway would just manage to register a solitary point from play.
Roscommon also let four decent goal chances slip through their fingers before they eventually did raise a green flag, drawing two saves while also hitting the post. Critically they hit the last three points of the half to leave a slightly more manageable eight between the sides.
During Galway’s purple patch, pacy corner forwards Eanna Monaghan and Niall Mannion both left their markers chasing shadows, as Galway reeled off nine scores without reply having understandably started quite sluggishly. Goals by Sean Bermingham and Monaghan looked to have Alan Flynn’s side in the box seat, but Roscommon showed remarkable character to claw their way back despite a second half black card that threatened to stall their comeback.
However, when Robert Heneghan’s thunderous 47th minute shot hit the roof of the net while Roscommon were still a body short, the large travelling support rose the decibel levels another notch and their team responded magnificently.
Read full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Difficult draw for champs St Thomas’ in senior title race
COUNTY SHC champions St. Thomas’ will have it all to do to defend their crown after they were drawn in a group containing two heavy-hitters in Cappataggle and Liam Mellows – along with the team that last dumped them out of the senior championship in 2017, Killimordaly.
St. Thomas’ claimed a famous three-in-a-row last year when defeating a resurgent Turloughmore in the county decider and, while they have avoided the 2020 finalists, they have been pitted against last year’s semi-finalists Cappataggle and 2017 winners Liam Mellows.
Both Cappataggle and Liam Mellows have consistently competed at the business end of the championship in recent years, with Cappy pushing Thomas’ all the way in last year’s semi-final, with the champions just edging the contest on a 1-15 to 0-17 scoreline.
While St. Thomas’ also saw off Killimordaly by 1-23 to 2-16 in the quarter-final stage in 2020, they will still be wary of a Killimordaly outfit that dumped them out of the championship at the preliminary quarter-final stage in 2017.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Kevin Lally took over the managerial reins and in the ensuing three years St. Thomas’ cemented their status as one of the county’s top clubs with three senior championship title wins on the bounce.
Over the winter, however, there has been a change in management, with Lally and trainer TJ Ryan stepping down and former hurler Kenneth Burke, who has a growing reputation as a mentor and coach, taking over.
Burke is also a son of former manager John Burke and what he offers is a continuity from two previous managerial set-ups that have been hugely successful.
The 2021 senior and intermediate championships commence on the weekend of September 11 and 12 and, as always, they promise much.
See the full draw and analysis in Tribune Sport this week. The Connacht Tribune is now on sale in shops, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Weld rolls back the years as Coltor proves best in feature
HE may be disposed as the ‘King of Ballybrit’, but Dermot Weld hasn’t lost his touch for training big-race winners at the Galway Summer Festival.
Monday’s feature – the €100,000 Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap – saw a maximum field of 20 runners face the starter and through the stable currently dominant at Galway threw six darts at the bullseye, it was Weld who hit the target with 14/1 shot Coltor.
A second consecutive win for jockey Finian Maguire in the most prestigious event on the racing calendar for amateur riders, however, looked unlikely as one of Willie Mullins’ half-dozen challengers travelled by far the best of the field around the home turn.
The well-fancied Foveros and Aubrey McMahon had just picked off the lone UK challenger, the pace-setting Litterale Ci, leaving the six-year-old poised to give the Mullins yard a fourth win in the last five runnings of the two-mile contest.
Though hard at work on market drifter Coltor, Maguire finally got the penny to drop inside the final 100 yards and Weld’s challenger swooped close to the line to deny Foveros by the three quarters of a length.
It was Weld’s first win in Monday’s feature since the Jane Mangan partnered Midnight Music obliged in 2012, prior to which he had won the race three times in a row between 2007 and 2009. This was his eighth victory in the race as a trainer.
“It’s a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I also won it four times as an amateur jockey, starting as a 15-year-old,” said Weld.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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