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Inside Track

Galway need to drive on after finally stopping the rot

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Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT really didn’t matter if the opposition had comprised of just a set of well known cartoon characters headed by Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck and The Pink Panther, the only issue at stake was that Galway footballers would prove equal to the challenge of halting a horrible run of defeats in the All-Ireland qualifiers at Pearse Stadium last Saturday evening.

In the end, Alan Mulholland’s men sort of staggered over the line against a badly depleted Tipperary team and though Galway’s display will have done little to appease their critics, the result was everything for Finian Hanley and company. Having been humiliated by Mayo in the Connacht championship, last Saturday evening was all about stopping the rot and they managed to achieve that fundamental aim.

Galway’s summer struggles for nearly the best part of a decade have spawned inconsistent teams which are lacking in confidence. Those traits were again evident in Pearse Stadium at the weekend but, at least, the Tribesmen had enough quality and pride in their ranks to advance to the second round of the qualifiers. Every win is important, but Galway’s victory over Tipperary was priceless in terms of squad morale and trying to kick-start some sort of a revival.

Mind you, a couple of bare statistics from the match underlined how much Galway diced with danger in front of a decent attendance of over 3,500. If you were told beforehand that they would only lead by 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval having had the backing of the wind and would also concede the last five scores of the match, you’d be forgiven for fearing the worst. Fortunately, a powerful third quarter proved enough for the home team to more than compensate.

The match itself was of no great quality, but none of that will matter to the Galway camp this week. They had to win; needed to win; and operating in that environment brings its own pressures, even against a Division Four league outfit. A point in the opening seconds from the lively Danny Cummins should have been the ideal tonic but, alarmingly, Galway wouldn’t score again for 20 minutes. Though guilty of some poor shooting, they were also struggling to cope with Tipperary’s tactic of funnelling so many players back when defending. It didn’t make for a great spectacle and, more worryingly for the home fans, the spectre of a shock result was always hanging in the air throughout the opening-half.

The manner in which raiding Tipperary players, notably wing back Brian Fox, were breaking through some flimsy tackling around the Galway half-back sector really had the alarm bells ringing and they ought to have found the net in the 20th minute when midfielder Steven O’Brien was straight through but shot too early and too high, ensuring a routine save from goalkeeper Manus Breathnach.

Just three minutes earlier, the Tipperary custodian Paul Fitzgerald had made a terrific reflex save to deny Michael Meehan at the other end, but with half-time approaching and the Munster minnows ahead by 0-5 to 0-4, the Galway supporters were becoming increasingly uneasy. Significantly, hard-working midfielder Paul Conroy subsequently landed the equaliser before Sean Armstrong (free) edged them in front for the break.

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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