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Inside Track

Galway teams fail to deliver on a disappointing weekend

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Galway's Aidan Harte shows plenty of determination as he tries to break free from Cork's Alan Cadogan during Sunday's National League Division 1A relegation play-off at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Stephen Glennon.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT was a forgettable weekend for the county’s four flagship sporting teams. Galway hurlers were relegated for the first time in 25 years; the Galway footballers failed to deliver in their promotion battle with Cavan; Galway United’s early season gallop was halted at Tallaght Stadium; while Connacht’s desperate record in Ravenhill continues.

Starting with the hurlers, and though it has to be acknowledged that a system where a team which is only beaten twice in their group campaign ends up fighting for survival in Division One in a play-off with a team which has won no match is fundamentally flawed, their defeat to Cork at Pearse Stadium was still a major disappointment.

There were some mitigating circumstances for Galway’s eclipse, notably a defensive injury crisis which was compounded when Aidan Hate was forced to retire approaching half-time, while Cork did have a motivational edge having lost to the Tribesmen in the opening round of the league at the same venue last February.

For all that and given the Rebels’ struggles of late, this was a game Galway ought to have been winning and they looked like doing so when they led by 0-23 to 0-20 heading down the home stretch, only to concede match-winning goals to Seamus Harnedy and the influential Pat Horgan. Conor Lehane was another thorn in the home team’s side, finishing the game with six points from play to his credit.

In contrast, 13 of Galway’s 25 points came from placed balls, all from Joe Canning, who didn’t manage to find the target from play on a day Cathal Mannion and Niall Burke bagged a half dozen between them. Given the high stakes, it was discouraging that the men in maroon struggled so badly early on, falling nine points to four down after only 12 minutes. To Galway’s credit, heads didn’t drop but just when they appeared to have turned the tide late in the match, they were unable to close the deal as Cork pulled off the great escape.

Though relegation is not a disaster in itself, given the backdrop to the appointment of Micheal Donoghue as new team manager last winter, it’s still probably the last thing Galway needed. The pressure was already on the players after their heave against Anthony Cunningham, but the strain has now increased sharply. Losing Division One status was not the kind of statement they intended to make to back up their off-field actions, and it can’t help morale in the camp either ahead of the championship.

Neither will the Galway footballers be heading towards the summer with a spring in their step. Though failing to win any of their home matches in Division Two, they still had picked up sufficient points to have their promotion destiny in the team’s own hands when facing resurgent Cavan at Breffni Park last Sunday. It was looking good for the visitors too when they led by 1-4 to 1-1 during the opening quarter, with the goal an opportunist effort from Patrick Sweeney after he reacted quickest when a fisted point attempt from Eamon Brannigan came back off the post.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

 

Connacht Tribune

Sporting organisations letting us down by rolling over to NPHET

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Galway players Niamh McGrath and Siobhan Gardiner show their disappointment after falling to Kilkenny in Sunday's National Camogie League final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IRELAND’S various big sporting organisations continue to embarrass themselves in relation to how they are handling the Covid pandemic. Being slaves to public health guidelines is one thing, but these bodies have introduced some rules of their own which are only further alienating their support base.

The GAA, IRFU, the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland may be currently dependent on public finances to keep their respective shows on the road, but that can’t excuse their lack of independent thinking or the fact they are making a deeply frustrating situation worse by adding in their own Covid-19 regulations

In effect, these sporting bodies are trying too hard to please NPHET and it doesn’t seem to matter how much they inconvenience or antagonise their grassroots in the process. Take the GAA, for instance. At club level dressing rooms remain closed and that causes significant irritation, especially on wet days.

Horse Racing Ireland is no better. Two owners per runner have been allowed back at race meetings and while that number is about to increase to four, there has been little enthusiasm among the cohort of people who pay the bills to return. And why would they? – no catering, no bookies and no atmosphere. And the most absurd thing of all is that the racing authorities are still enforcing the mask-wearing regulation.

Imagine still having to use a face covering in what amounts to big open fields. Is Horse Racing Ireland clueless as to how foolish jockeys, trainers, the few owners and media people present are being made to look, especially when the risk of contracting Covid is negligible in such an environment? All the while, beaches, public parks and walkways are milling with people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

All is not lost for footballers but Galway’s slump must end soon

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VICTORY DELIGHT: Galway's Ailish O'Reilly, Niamh Hanniffy and Roisin Black celebrate their National Camogie League semi-final win over Cork at Nowlan Park last Sunday. Photo: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Inside Track with John McIntyre

PADRAIC Joyce must have been tearing his hair out as he watched the Galway footballers throw away their National League Division One League relegation battle against Monaghan in Clones on Sunday. No wonder he declined to face the press corps afterwards.

The outcome – a one-point extra-time defeat – was a disastrous one for a Galway team which badly needed to get a result in this pressure test ahead of the Connacht championship. Instead, the camp must be demoralised at letting such a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. It was carelessness in the extreme.

Five points ahead thanks largely to timely opening-half goals from Rob Finnerty and Paul Kelly, Galway had all the hard work done as they held a five-point advantage with only minutes remaining. A morale-boosting win seemed all but assured. Instead, the Tribesmen subsequently imploded.

For much of the match, Galway were winning the majority of the key battles but they were keeping Monaghan in the hunt through some sloppy finishing. In his hey-day as a player, Joyce would never have been so charitable, but his team lacked the necessary ruthlessness to kill off the Monaghan challenge.

There was a lot of poor decision making in front of the opposition posts as well, but Galway were in sight of preserving their Division One status only to blow it. To Monaghan’s credit, they never gave up and in substitute Jack McCarron they possessed the best finisher on the field.

Long serving players Darren Hughes and Colm McManus also came up with crucial late scores in normal time to help catch Galway and force the contest into extra time. Here again, Galway had their chances but the teams were still deadlocked when they gave away possession coming out of defence, presenting the accurate McCarron with the chance to land his fifth point from play. He didn’t miss.

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

Hurling we have a problem: there are too many scores in the game

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Galway attacker Brian Concannon comes under pressure from Waterford’s Conor Prunty during Sunday's hurling league tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S the summer of 2006 and a mistake-ridden Leinster hurling semi-final at Nowlan Park is unfolding. Two nervous teams chasing a big prize in a tight-marking, uninspiring battle for supremacy. In the end, Wexford somehow manage to stagger over the line despite only scoring a paltry nine points.

Imagine holding the opposition to a total score in single figures and still not winning the match. Unfortunately, I was the Offaly team manager that day and we were the ones who had to cope with that reality. Our tally only came to eight points and, in the process, a golden opportunity of victory had been spurned.

Between both teams only 17 points were registered and while that is an extreme example of when hurling was more defender friendly, what’s happening nowadays is arguably worse. There are just many scores in the game now – a scenario which reduces our appreciation of exceptional score-taking simply because they have become so frequent.

Sure, players have never been better conditioned, the sport’s stakeholders are much more tactically aware and the sliotar has become really user friendly, but spectators – If they were any! – are being turned off by this literally ‘score a minute’ phenomenon. It’s actually not unusual for three scores to be registered in just a minute.

God, I’d hate to be a defender these days with the ball whizzing all-round the place and your opponent never static. Grand, if you are a Calum Lyons or Ronan Maher who can bomb forward with impunity to fire over long-range points, but for most present-day back men, the game is nearly passing them by.

Teams have become so good at protecting possession, creating overlaps and isolating their shooters that opposition defences are left chasing shadows. An astonishing 58 scores were accumulated at Pearse Stadium last Sunday with eight players – Lyons, Dessie Hutchinson, Jack Prendergast, Joe Canning, Evan Niland, Conor Cooney, Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon all scoring at least three times from play.

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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