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Inside Track

Galway provide hope for future but not there yet

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Sarsfields East Galway U10 A tournament winners after defeating Kilnadeema-Leitrim in the final. Back row, left to right: Adam Kyne, Cathal Ward, Darragh Donohue, John Cosgrove, Fearghus Deeley, Mark Tierney, Ethan Warde, Sean O'Neill, Nathan Cannon, Leon Connaire. Front row: Ross Keane, Dean Keane, Oisín Maher, Michael Keown, Paddy McCarty, Rian Earls, Ruairì Brogan.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

GALWAY got what they needed at McHale Park last Sunday – a performance, and some tangible hope for the future. Ending Mayo’s stranglehold on the provincial championship would have been another aspiration for the Tribesmen heading to Castlebar, but deep down they probably knew that challenge was always going to prove beyond them unless the champions had fallen into significant decline.

Certainly, Mayo’s league campaign had raised some concerns about possible deterioration among their followers, especially their failure to close out a couple of games they appeared to be in control of. The champions were no great shakes either in the Connacht semi-final against an under-rated Roscommon, but James Horan’s men remain a focused and talented squad who were always keeping their arch rivals at bay in Sunday’s showdown.

The fact that Galway put it up to their hosts, notably after half-time, and, more importantly, never died or threw in the towel after the concession of any of Mayo’s three goals shows that progress is being made. The team fought to the finish and though the result was inevitable for large tracts of the match, Galway managed to keep the title holders honest and have clearly improved compared to last year’s mauling at Pearse Stadium.

Of course, there is still a major bridge to be closed. Mayo won their fourth consecutive Connacht final apparently playing in their comfort zone; they were physically dominant and their far greater experience was evident too. Aidan O’Shea, who lined out on the forty, handled more ball than any other player on the field and such is his power that Galway found it difficult to curb him.

There had been high hopes that the youthful midfield pairing of Fiontán Ó Curraoin and Thomas Flynn, who were so impressive against Sligo, would really ask Mayo questions under the dropping ball, but Sunday represented a steep rise in class and they struggled to exert a major influence, although Flynn proved a useful link man at times. Furthermore, at this level, Galway needed to take the vast majority of their chances to have any hopes of causing an upset.

Facing the wind in the opening-half, they were first on the mark with a Shane Walsh free and though having no shortage of possession, Galway’s shooting left something to be desired with the hard-working Danny Cummins and Eddie Hoare’s radars completely on the blink as they contributed six wides between them. Mindful of the way Mayo had run through them last year, Galway set up defensively, with team captain Paul Conroy and Hoare, both selected in the full forward line, more often than not to be found around the middle of the field.

Undoubtedly, the tactic clogged up Mayo’s attacking avenues and after ten minutes the hosts had only two points on the board. Galway were hitting on the counter-attack but the required accuracy wasn’t there, with raiding wing back Gareth Bradshaw thumping a close range effort off the post near the interval when there was a possible goal scoring opportunity on. Alan Mulholland’s team came much closer, however, to rattling the Mayo net on several occasions in the second-half, not least when Walsh smashed the ball off the crossbar after a searing run in its opening seconds.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Cool the jets – let’s give Galway sideline supremos a fair hearing

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Mayo's Aidan O'Shea feels the strain against Galway's Cathal Sweeney and Seán Mulkerrin during Sunday's Connacht Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus /Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IN all my years (more like decades) involved in hurling, I have never seen a team play the game at a faster pace than what Waterford did for 55 minutes in Thurles last Saturday. They were like Olympic sprinters and Galway simply couldn’t keep up with them in the open expanses of Semple Stadium.

Galway hurlers have often plumbed the depths when least expected, but trailing by 16 points after three quarters of Saturday’s knock-out clash was a total shock to the system. We know the Tribesmen have a terrible record against Waterford, but this was embarrassing and unacceptable for a team which had been touted as Limerick’s chief threat.

Though Galway are understandably getting some credit for their grandstand finish, it’s only papering over the cracks and, let’s be honest, there would probably have been no comeback at all only for Waterford being reduced to 14 players for the entire second-half. And then having whittled the deficit down from 16 points to three and all the momentum behind them with over six minutes still left to be played, they were found wanting again.

After substitute Jason Flynn’s first goal, there were five more scores and Waterford got four of them. That alone tells you that Liam Cahill’s men had more of what it takes to succeed at this level. Waterford were in disarray but somehow were able to find the inspiration to get over the line.

Meeting Galway supporters before the game, we shared the same concerns about the men in maroon jerseys. Eyebrows were raised by the team chosen and some of the positions players were picked in. Having failed to raise much of a gallop against Dublin, Galway should have been straining at the leash to achieve some redemption. Instead, they were worse; swept aside by a ravenous Waterford team which had everything their opponents didn’t

Though leaving Daithí Burke at centre-back didn’t cost Galway the game, it was still stubborn of the team management to stick to their guns when his zealous patrolling of the square continued to be so blatantly missed. Keeping faith with the unrelated Cooneys’, Joseph and Conor, also attracted criticism.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Fearsome Limerick hit new high by tearing Tipperary rivals apart

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Galway’s Carrie Dolan breaking away from Laura Doherty of Westmeath during Saturday's All-Ireland camogie championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

In the aftermath of a wonderful sporting achievement, it’s easy to get carried away and, perhaps, overrate what we have just seen at the expense of great deeds from the past. But even against that background, what Limerick hurlers achieved in the second-half of Sunday’s Munster Final was extraordinary.

They looked a beaten docket at half-time. Trailing by ten points to a Jason Forde inspired and a fiercely committed Tipperary, the All-Ireland champions were in serious trouble. They had conceded two goals directly from opposition puck-outs to Jake Morris and Bubbles O’Dwyer, and so many of their marquee players were off the pace.

In fact, Tipperary could have been ahead by more. With Dan McCormack playing deep to free up Brendan Maher as their sweeper, they created a world of chances with Forde – the most under-rated forward in the game – rifling over a series of points from all angles and distances. Limerick were all at sea and only Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey were having a significant impact on the action.

But nobody could have envisaged the sensational turnaround in the third quarter. Within 18 minutes, a resurgent Limerick had gone a point ahead as reserves Aaron Gillane and Dan Morrissey added fresh vigour to their challenge at opposite ends of the field. It was like watching two different matches as Tipp were simply overwhelmed.

Their older generation really sagged in the unforgiving temperatures and by the time their management made changes, Limerick had already taking control. On the scoreboard, Tipp were still in it, but their players must have been in a state of shock over how a big lead had been so quickly and so ruthlessly wiped out. Limerick’s younger legs and sheer physical power were now dictating the terms of engagement.

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

Epic Portlaoise battle highlights what minor level is now missing

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Galway midfielder Kieran Hanrahan breaking away from Kilkenny’s Harry Shine during the 2020 All-Ireland Minor hurling final at O'Moore Park on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHAT unfolded at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise last Saturday evening again puts a negative slant on the GAA’s decision at the 2016 Congress to reduce the age limit for minor competition from U18 to U17 and the U21 grade to U20.
Sure, there were issues with Leaving Cert exams and hold-ups in fixtures at senior level due to the previous under-age structures, but the competitiveness of the minor grade has been drastically impacted by restricting it to U17s, while the former U21 competition carried more prestige than the current U20 championship.
These were hardly intractable problems in the first place, but it is another example of the GAA’s continuous meddling with their competitions and the rule book. On the other hand, you sometimes wonder do Congress delegates sleepwalk their way through proceedings by not anticipating the impact of certain decisions at ground level until it’s too late.
Back to O’Moore Park. Due to Covid 19, the 2020 All-Ireland minor hurling championship was run off about a year behind schedule and the upshot was that many players had reached 18 by the time it came to enter combat. In effect, it was the way things used to be and the resulting increase in intensity and physicality was welcome.
Galway and Kilkenny locked horns in a gripping battle on Saturday evening and there was no holding back to the exchanges. You just don’t have that at U17 level because the players are not nearly as well physically developed. The minor grade is currently a pale imitation of its former glory.
That reality was confirmed in the delayed 2020 championship with the All-Ireland final serving up a compelling struggle for supremacy. Early on, it seemed Galway were about to overwhelm Kilkenny as they established a seven-point lead but, by the end of the game, they needed a brilliantly created goal from Liam Collins to carry the day.

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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