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Inside Track

Galway very hard to beat when the hurling is loose

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Galway defender Paul Hoban is about to secure possession ahead of Cork's Patrick Cronin during Sunday's National League tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

YOU’D be questioning the merit of inter-county players slogging their guts out in the gym, together with the odd strenuous field session, during the months of November and December after Galway hurlers’ comfortable victory over Cork in the opening round of the National League at Pearse Stadium last Sunday.

With little more than a month’s preparation behind them after the belated appointment of Michéal Donoghue as team manager, the anticipation was that Galway would be at a significant disadvantage, especially in the early stages of the league, but instead they hit the ground running with a purposeful display which maintained the county’s recent mastery over the Rebels.

The hosts produced a highly energetic and vibrant effort, leaving one to conclude that freshness or appetite for big matches should never be under-estimated. What Galway achieved in getting their league campaign off to a heartening start is hardly going to change the way managers flog their players during the winter months, but it is at least food for thought.

Of course, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the league pans out for Galway, but Donoghue, Francis Forde and Noel Larkin must have been impressed by the application of their players, with the fit-again Niall Burke and the recalled Davy Glennon making big impressions up front on a day midfielder David Burke took to the role of captain like a duck to water.

The St Thomas’ clubman was brilliant in the opening-half, spreading the ball around with an intelligence and crispness which Cork couldn’t handle. Burke also fired over three terrific points from play in the opening 35 minutes and, clearly, captaincy rests easily on his shoulders. Another highlight was the growing influence of Conor Whelan whose ability to secure possession in tight corners and under severe pressure stamps him as a player with almost limitless potential.

It was close to half-time before Whelan began to make an impact, but by the finish the beleaguered Cork backs must have been dreading the ball coming in his direction. With Joe Canning also in good form, and Padraig Breheny and Cathal Mannion paying their way in the half-line as well, the Galway forwards piled up the scores before a decent crowd of nearly 6,000.

Much interest would have centred on Galway’s starting line up, but apart from a recall for the feisty Paul Huban at left corner back and the inclusion of Adrian Diviney at midfield, the new management didn’t tinker too much with the resources available to them. It was still a bit of a surprise to see Cathal Mannion starting at centre forward, but he did well enough even if we still see him as a player who thrives on breaking ball and space.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Shefflin gets a big reality check as Galway collapse against the Dubs

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Clarinbridge U20 players Cian Moore, Eoin Ryan, Oisin Shannon, Gavin Lee and Christy Brennan show their delight after defeating Castlegar in the County A Final at Duggan Park on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE most troubling aspect of the turkey shoot at Parnell Park on Sunday was that Dublin could have won by 25 points or more. Goodness knows, it was bad enough as it was with the Tribesmen being trounced on a 3-29 to 0-19 scoreline.

In retrospect, the warning signs were there in Ballinasloe the previous weekend when Galway took a long time to put Offaly away. The Midlanders may be improving, but they are coming from a very low base and haven’t even participated in the Leinster championship since 2018.

Galway were a shambles against Dublin despite fielding a slightly stronger line-out on paper. Darren Morrissey, Evan Niland and Niall Burke were back, while the inclusion of the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal, beefed up their bench.

Yes, we know Dublin fielded a much stronger team; are difficult to beat at Parnell Park; and have overcome Galway in their last two championship meetings, but still the gulf in standard between the teams was startling. The Dubs were in a different league.

Henry Shefflin is not used to days like this and the difficulty for him is that his arrival in Galway has sparked an expectation that big things lie ahead of the Tribesmen in 2022. But regardless of the man in charge, supporters are ignoring the reality of the team’s fortunes over the past two years. One win in their last five championship matches tells its own story.

Galway do have some players to come back and it’s too early in the year to go all negative about their prospects, but what we saw in Parnell Park was alarming. Some of the players they are trying out are not up to it and while the Galway management need to unearth new talent, they must be more selective in this regard.

Six players who featured in last summer’s championship exit to Waterford were involved at one stage or another last Sunday: Morrissey, Niland, Burke, Gearoid McInerney, and the Mannions. Two more have retired since – Joe Canning and Aidan Harte – and another two, Shane Cooney (knee) and Jason Flynn (hamstring), are set to miss the championship.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

National Archives offer revealing window into Ireland’s recent past

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Uneasy alliance...Charlie Haughey and Margaret Thatcher on the steps of 10 Downing Street.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I’ve been covering the political so long time now that I’m the one they send down every year to look at the records being released by the National Archives. It used to be that confidential Government documents were kept for 30 years under lock and key before they were released. Thus the material that would have been opened before Christmas would have been the records from 1991 –  the last year of Charlie Haughey’s era as Taoiseach.

But about seven years ago, the British changed the rules on their releases and gradually brought the confidential period down, year-by-year, from 30 down to 20. They are now at about 22 years.

This left the Irish State in a bit of pickle. If we kept our rule we would have been badly out of sync with the British.

What did that matter? Well, the main event as far as it concerns the Archives is the Anglo-Irish stuff. That’s all the meetings abut Northern Ireland between the Taoiseach of the day and the British prime minister – and all the stuff generated between other senior politicians and officials.

So over the past few years from the Irish archives, we have been learning of the extraordinary summits between Haughey and Thatcher, with her going on massive rants about the IRA and the Government here not doing enough to prevent IRA attacks, and the Gardaí being like Keystone Cops because they were using arcane methods to gather intelligence.

Which was all very well. But that stuff – and seen from the prism of Margaret Thatcher and her officials – has been in the public realm in Britain for at least six or seven years. So, to borrow a phrase from the Northern Ireland peace process, there was not full parity of esteem when it came to viewing the documents.

The media always get in about a week early to preview the documents and write up reports on what they say – they appear on the days that the documents are released.

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

Some words of caution for Galway – Shefflin alone won’t turn the tide

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Galway defenders Stephen Barrett and Gearóid McInerney tussling for possession with Offaly's John Murphy during Sunday's Walsh Cup tie at Duggan Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HENRY Shefflin has been keeping a low profile since his stunning appointment as Galway hurling manager last October. No Interviews; no public appearances. Instead, the Kilkenny legend was getting familiar with a group of players he barely knew or cared about until a few months ago.

His arrival in Galway sparked huge excitement and, of course, expectation. But until Sunday’s Walsh Cup encounter against Offaly at a heaving Duggan Park, Shefflin would have been largely cocooned from the impact his taking over of the Tribesmen was having. Over 3,000 people at a tournament fixture in early January says it all.

Only for Covid restrictions, there would have been twice that number in Ballinasloe. As a great player, Shefflin has been dealing with pressure all his life, but coming west is a different ball game altogether. On the field, the Ballyhale man influenced outcomes on a consistent basis. Apart from his incredible scoring feats, his vision was also extraordinary.

He was also the de facto leader of the greatest hurling team ever seen. In the 2012 All-Ireland final replay against Galway, Kilkenny were struggling but Shefflin’s switch to the forty turned the game. Nobody how good his tactical acumen is, he will never have that kind of impact on matches from the Galway sideline.

There is a belief out there that Shefflin getting involved with the Galway hurlers will transform their fortunes nearly overnight. Sure, his presence alone will energise the squad as will his status as a winner, but he is not a miracle worker. Remember too, Galway have lost four of their last five championships games and at one stage in their defeat to Waterford in 2021, they were an embarrassing 16 points behind.

Furthermore, Joe Canning – Galway’s greatest ever hurler – and the ultra-dependable Aidan Harte have hung up their inter-county boots in the interim. A few more, notably David Burke, Johnny Coen, Joseph Cooney and Gearóid McInerney, are raging against the passage of time.

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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