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Inside Track

Galway’s bad Thurles record is reaching nightmare levels

John McIntyre

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Galway half back Iarla Tannian getting the better of Tipperary's John O'Dwyer during Sunday's National League tie at Semple Stadium. Photo:Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Thurles continues to strike fear into the hearts of Galway hurling supporters – and the statistics show why. A sixth consecutive competitive defeat at Semple Stadium last Sunday underlines the county’s appalling record at a venue which is regarded as the sport’s most hallowed.

The Tipperary stadium has never been a great hunting ground for Galway hurlers, but over the past decade Thurles has more often than not become a graveyard for their visitors from the West. Apart from their championship qualifier win over Cork in 2009 and a league final triumph the following year, the Tribesmen invariably depart the venue with tails between their legs.

Leaving aside Galway’s desperate league record against Tipperary in Thurles – just two wins from their last 18 clashes – they have bowed out of the championship five times in the past seven years at hurling’s spiritual home, while also losing there to Kilkenny in last year’s league semi-finals. It’s not funny anymore and Galway’s complex about Semple Stadium must be reaching nightmare proportions.

On some of those occasions, Galway were simply beaten by the better team, but in the championship of 2008 (Cork), 2010 (Waterford) and last year (Tipperary), they had launched themselves into winning positions only to implode down the home straight. Nobody wants to be talking about a Thurles jinx when it comes to Galway, but the reality is becoming difficult to ignore.

Take Sunday’s Division 1A league encounter against Tipperary, for instance. It was another game Galway could have won but they fell asleep on the resumption and then lost their composure after almost reeling in the home team when bravely rallying from a ten point deficit. Each stumble in Thurles can only be adding to the demons stalking the Galway players about the place.

The match itself lacked the spice associated with Galway’s edging out of Clare the previous weekend. The hurling was loose and the intensity of the exchanges only occasionally stoked the passions of the disappointing small crowd. Both teams mixed the good with the bad but, in the end, Tipperary carried the day thanks to converting two goal chances when Galway had momentarily switched off.

Frankly, I thought Anthony Cunningham’s charges had the hard work done in the opening half after which they only trailed by three points. Galway had faced the elements but some good points from Cathal Mannion, Padraig Breheny, whose replacement early in the third quarter beggared belief, and James Regan, together with Jason Flynn’s placed balls had kept them on Tipperary’s coat-tails.

Unfortunately, Galway went on to pay the maximum price for a sloppy start to the second half. Within 14 seconds John O’Dwyer, who was subsequently lucky to escape the ultimate sanction for a late pull on impressive substitute Greg Lally, had the ball in the net after defenders John Hanbury and Johnny Coen appeared to get in each other’s way. That was an untimely blow for the Tribesmen but worse was to follow.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Inconsistent Covid restrictions just driving people up the walls

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Lynsey McKey in action against Paula Doran of Bohemians during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

OUR patience with Ireland’s ongoing battle against Covid-19 is running out. We are tired of the constant negative narrative, the scaremongering and regular qualification of any good news. The Government and NPHET continue to kill the morale of their own people with inconsistent coronavirus restrictions.

We can be in the middle of one wave of the virus and the prophets of doom are already warning about the next one. Caution has been taken to extremes and it’s only driving a large proportion of the population up the walls, especially those involved with sport. Some of the restrictions are now doing more harm than good.

The danger of sticking your head above the parapet is that you are immediately accused of not respecting or ignoring a public health emergency; that you are in some way complicit in keeping the virus on these shores longer than necessary; that you are indifferent to the suffering of thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

I get that, but I am none of the above. I belong to a large cohort of people who are applying logic and common sense to what is going on. For instance, there is no earthly good reason why golf courses and tennis courts have to remain out of bounds until near the end of the month, or why team sport – at all levels – played outdoors isn’t also back up and running, at least in terms of training.

We are constantly told that being outdoors reduces the risk of virus transmissions significantly; that it is a much safer environment compared to indoor settings. Yet, the Government and NPHET are not helping us practice what they preach. There are thousands of young sports people all over the country who are being driven close to insanity; cooked up with little to do.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Boss Kenny can’t buy a break as dream job turns into a nightmare

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Therese Kinnevey and Shauna Brennan leading this charge against Cork City WFC during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

STEPHEN Kenny looked a tormented soul after the Republic of Ireland’s shock World Cup qualifying loss to the minnows of Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. The Dubliner is only a few months in charge of the team, but everything that could go wrong has gone wrong since he took over from Mick McCarthy.

After the reasonable promise of Ireland’s away defeat to Serbia the previous Wednesday, the visit of Luxembourg to Dublin was understandably tagged as a match Seamus Coleman and company simply had to win and, in the process, finally give some overdue momentum to Kenny’s tenure.

Unfortunately, Ireland just didn’t perform or deliver against the 98th rated team in the world. Instead, the match appeared to be trundling to a nil-all draw conclusion when Luxembourg stunned their hosts with a well-taken 85th winner from Gerson Rodrigues. Suddenly, a bad night had turned into a disastrous one.

With injuries again hitting Kenny’s selection plans – Galway’s Aaron Connolly was among the absentees – there was another youthful appeal to his line up, including a debut for 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who did well in challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, the rest of the team were found wanting.

The reality now is that Ireland’s World Cup ambitions are already over after just two matches, a scenario which has cranked up the pressure on the team’s beleaguered boss. Kenny just can’t buy a break in the job. Between Covid, absentees and injuries, his time at the helm has been spent trying to cobble together teams to represent Ireland. He is constantly dealing with a compromised hand.

In those circumstances, any manager would struggle and though Kenny has a strong winning pedigree in League of Ireland football, this is a different world altogether and already, you get a sense that the vultures are circling, notwithstanding the FAI’s public vote of confidence expressed by Chairperson Ray Barrett in the wake of the Luxembourg defeat.

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

Brilliant duo Blackmore and De Bromhead rewrite record books

John McIntyre

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Galway amateur jockey Eoin Mahon and Beating The Odds (on right) clearing the last on their way to victory over Difficult Decision in the Leugh Handicap Hurdle at Thurles on Saturday. Photo: Caroline Norris.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HEADING into last week’s Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, even the dogs on the street knew that the Irish raiders were in for a bonanza, but few anticipated such an unprecedented wipe out of the home challenge. It was getting embarrassing by the end of the fourth day as Irish horse after Irish horse stormed up the hill – often in glorious isolation.

Ultimately, the UK had to be content with a mere five winners over the 28-race programme with not a solitary success registered over hurdles – a truly astonishing scenario. Time and again, some of their supposedly big guns were found wanting in the Cotswolds, with only Nicky Henderson’s pair, the brilliant Shishkin and Chantry Horse, recording Grade One successes.

For Ireland to land 23 races at the Olympics of the sport underlines how much the balance of power has switched at Cheltenham in modern times. Only staying hurdler Galmoy had prevented an Irish whitewash in 1987 and ’88, while the raiding party returned empty-handed from the meeting in 1989.

Of course, Cheltenham was only a three-day festival back then, but the Irish dominance over the past few years is still remarkable. Sure, we have exceptional trainers in Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott, and some wealthy individuals are splashing out on the best of thoroughbreds coming up for sale, but British National Hunt racing is on its knees in terms of quality after last week’s drubbing.

The poor prizemoney on offer in the UK is clearly a big factor in British based owners – like Cheverly Park – sending their horses across the Irish Sea to be trained, while some cross-channel trainers have already publicly questioned their own racing programme in the context of too many handicaps and not enough races at the top end level.

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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