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Inside Track

Galway need to drive on after finally stopping the rot

John McIntyre

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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

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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Connacht Tribune

Galway and Limerick look best equipped for a December date

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Fabienne Cooney geting the better of Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy during the All-Ireland ladies football senior championship clash at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S time to nail our colours to the mast. In the wake of the ten contenders for this year’s All-Ireland hurling title making their championship debuts, we are predicting a December showdown between Limerick and Galway – the two most formidable physically equipped teams out there.

Of course, there’s still a lot of hurling to be done, but even neutrals were impressed by the power shows over the weekend from both Limerick and Galway. One team defeated the reigning champions by nine points; the other humbled Wexford by a 13-point margin. And it just wasn’t about the gulf on the scoreboards at the end either.

Tipperary and Wexford simply couldn’t cope with the physicality of their respective opponents. They were both ground into submission and as weather conditions are bound to worsen over the winter, it’s the team with the big men who will have an inherent advantage. Bulk and physique alone won’t win All-Irelands, but both Galway and Limerick are also blessed with an abundance of natural talent.

Steady on John, I can hear the local sceptics say. Are you talking about the same Galway team which only drew with Wexford last year and were subsequently sent tumbling from the championship by Dublin at Parnell Park?  Yeah, but 2019 was a season of massive under-achievement for the men in maroon who now look revitalised under Shane O’Neill’s tenure.

On the evidence of Croke Park on Saturday evening, the bite is back in Galway’s hurling. Furthermore, newcomers Eanna Murphy and Fintan Burke are proving big defensive assets, while Brian Concannon looks primed to deliver on the promise of his under-age days judging by the way he tormented Wexford in the Leinster semi-final.

Sure, the title holders didn’t raise much of a gallop but Galway didn’t let them. Seán Loftus, the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal, and the outstanding Conor Whelan were way too slick for Wexford and if Galway bring the same urgency and purpose to the battleground against Kilkenny on Saturday week, I can see only one outcome.

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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