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Inside Track

Galway show some grit in reaching league semis

John McIntyre

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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

Almost impossible to see Corofin being stopped after latest saunter

John McIntyre

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St James’ Jack Forde comes under pressure from Mark Lydon of Moycullen during Sunday's senior football championship quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE Galway senior football championship trundles along to its inevitable conclusion. Sure, there have been quality matches, high drama and a number of upsets over the past few weeks, but Corofin’s shadow still hangs over the title race. Just two matches away from a record-breaking eighth consecutive county senior crown, Kevin O’Brien’s charges continue to set an awesome standard and it is a tribute to Corofin that despite all that they have won, the squad’s hunger and ambition levels haven’t been diluted one iota.

Granted, they were taken to replays by both Mountbellew/Moylough and Tuam Stars in their last two championship campaigns, but Corofin always find a way to survive and when in full flow, there has been no finer sight in club football anywhere in the country. Three All-Ireland titles on the trot confirm that.

Due to the impact on sport caused by Covid-19, Corofin unfortunately will be denied the opportunity of capturing a fourth consecutive Tommy Moore Cup next January, but don’t expect that scenario to disarm them as they attempt to go where no other Galway club team has gone before in the 136-year history of the GAA.

At the start of this season’s much-delayed championship, Sathill/Knocknacarra would have been touted as one of the mean’s threats to Corofin’s title monopoly. With plenty of rising young talent in their ranks, the city outfit looked like a squad with potential, but Salthill only staggered out of their group after suffering a shock loss to Bearna.

Missing a couple of key players was no help to their cause either as they squared up to Corofin in last Saturday’s quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Admittedly, Salthill/Knocknacarra only trailed by a point at half time but, in reality, their cause was already lost having had the backing of a strong wind.

And that’s how the second-half evolved. Corofin went to a different level in powering away to a 1-18 to 0-9 victory, with dual player Daithí Burke firing home their goal late in the game. The champions are now preparing for a 13th consecutive county semi-final in a row – how’s that for consistency?

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

Strange times but cream still rises to the top in local hurling title race

John McIntyre

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Turloughmore 's Kevin Hussey is about to clear his lines against Ian Fox of Sarsfields during Saturday's senior hurling quarter-final at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The running of the 2020 Galway senior hurling championship may have been turned upside down in more ways than one by Covid-19, but three of last year’s semi-finalists have fought their way back to the final four after the weekend’s latest round of knock-out games.

It just shows that regardless of what system a championship is based upon or its time frame, the top teams still generally come to the fore. That’s how it has largely worked out in Galway again this year even if Liam Mellows – finalists for the past three seasons – were the big casualty of the quarter-finals.

Out for the third weekend on the trot, the city outfit were below par in their surprising weekend loss to a rejuvenated Loughrea. With former Mellows player and current Galway U20 manager Geoffrey Lynskey in the opposition backroom, this fixture should have carried a real edge to it, but the reality turned out much different.

Even without suspended star player Jamie Ryan, Loughrea emerged comfortable 0-22 to 1-13 winners with the likes of Neil Keary and Martin McManus making their presence felt. It’s quite a sudden upswing in fortunes for a side which bowed out tamely in last year’s championship to Cappataggle and lost their opening round group tie to Tommy Larkins a few weeks back.

Loughrea are the only club left which didn’t feature in the 2019 semi-finals and their opponents will be a Turloughmore outfit which is starting to walk the walk, in terms of justifying their lofty reputation. Mind you, conceding 2-19 to Sarsfields at Kenny Park shows that their defence still isn’t bombproof. At the other end of the field, however, there was no shortage of firepower as Seán Linnane and Seán Loftus did most of the scoring damage.

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

Inconsistent restrictions to tackle Covid-19 are driving people mad

John McIntyre

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Brian Harlowe of St Michael’s eyes up his options against Barna's Jack Keady during the clubs' championship clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

You couldn’t make it up if you tried. Thousands of supporters attending junior and under-age GAA games up and down the country, but nobody allowed in to see senior club hurling and football matches  . . . the high-profile fixtures.  It’s a blatant anomaly which defies logic. In a nutshell, the message is: there’s no risk of picking up Covid-19 at a juvenile or junior game, but there’s every danger of falling victim to the pandemic at a senior club championship encounter.

Of course, when NPHET and the government ruled that sporting events must be held behind closed doors, they weren’t anticipating that junior and underage-games would carry on as normal in terms of supporters turning up. The vast majority of these matches are held at open rural venues where the host club has little interest or motivation in turning people away.

The reality is that most of these GAA grounds are easy to access and frustrated fans are turning up in their droves. Contrast that with what’s happening with senior club matches. They are being held at secure inter-county venues which are nearly impossible to gain ‘illegal’ entry to.

You’d imagine that there should be someone sitting around the Cabinet table who can flag this ridiculous inconsistency. And then have the wit to question stopping fans getting into the big games while crowds are flocking to lower-scale matches. How can it be alright to get into one and not the other?

According to the GAA itself there hasn’t been a single recorded outbreak of the coronavirus associated with the staging of any match. The Association has rigorously complied with NPHET’s restrictions and has even taking it on itself to keep dressing-rooms closed. And what thanks do we get?  . . . nothing, just the continued and unnecessary shattering of people’s spirits.

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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