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Inside Track

Galway show some grit in reaching league semis

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IT’S been an up and down National League campaign for the Galway hurlers, but they have at least achieved their basic objective in qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition after a notable 0-15 to 0-12 win over bogey team Waterford in their final Division 1A group outing at Walsh Park last Sunday. The pressure was on the men in maroon to deliver and they weren’t found wanting.

Galway were the stronger team by more than the final scoreline suggests – Joe Canning alone accounted for more than half a dozen wides – and the match, again fought out in bitterly cold conditions, hardly merited the frantic finish which saw Waterford striving for a match-saving goal. It should never have come to that, but the result is all that matters to Anthony Cunningham and his management team.

Fergal Moore and company had done the hard work in the opening half when facing the strong wind. With St. Thomas’ players, Conor Cooney and David Burke, back in their starting line, they produced a vigorous effort which was rewarded with an unexpected 0-8 to 0-3 interval advantage. Waterford hadn’t raised a solitary flag in the final 22 minutes of the half and lacked the winners’ penetration and range of scoring options.

Iarla Tannion, sprightly in the middle of the field, picked off two rousing points as did the returning Niall Burke, while the excellent Davy Glennon and Canning, again operating from the wing, were also on target. Galway could have been even further ahead but Shane O’Sullivan stopped a penalty from the Portumna ace midway through the half. It would have been premature to claim Galway had the match in the bag at the interval, but it was difficult to see a way back for Waterford.

The Tribesmen, however, have been struggling to put teams away so far in 2013 and with the home team raising their intensity levels considerably, together with getting a big benefit from the switching of Seamus Prendergast and Maurice Shanahan in the central positions up front, Waterford managed to reduce the deficit to three points on a couple of occasions without ever really looking like they were going to salvage a result.

Kevin Moran got on a lot of ball around midfield and with Prendergast’s strength difficult to counteract on the edge of the square, at least Galway had to display some resolve and commitment in keeping Waterford at bay. The defence stood up well to the test, however. The crisp striking David Collins impressed in the centre back role, while there was more dash in the play of youthful pair, Johnny Coen and Niall Donohue, as well.

Overall, you can hardly be critical of a rearguard which only concedes 12 points although goalkeeper Colm Callanan had to prove his measure when blocking a Shanahan 21 yards free in the third quarter, while full back Kevin Hynes made a timely intervention when expertly hooking Shanahan after a Moran effort had rebounded off the post in the 17th minute. In attack, Glennon was the main source of inspiration and, on this form, the Mullagh player is a certainty for championship promotion.

Galway had a goal harshly disallowed when David Burke skilfully diverted a Canning sideline cut to the net in the 62nd minute, but it was hardly a surprising decision in the context of referee Anthony Stapleton’s overall performance. The Laois official only liberally policed the action and he didn’t penalise some blatant fouls committed, especially by Waterford. Maybe, it was no harm for Galway to survive a rough and tumble affair, but what about the rulebook?

Reaching the league semi-finals had to be a priority for Galway ahead of the championship, especially as they have been virtually handed a free run into the Leinster final – it’s still hard to credit that Kilkenny, Dublin, Wexford and Offaly are all on the other half of the provincial draw – and though it’s hardly ideal they again must play Kilkenny, at least we can be guaranteed there will be no shadow boxing in over a fortnight’s time.

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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