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Inside Track

Gort must get up close and personal against Ballyhale

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Young Mullagh fans Tiernan, Nessa and Senan Coen supporting the Galway champions in the All-Ireland Club Senior Camogie Semi-Final in Nenagh last Sunday. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/Inpho.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

In three previous attempts, the All-Ireland Club hurling championship hasn’t been a lucky hunting ground for Gort – their most recent campaign ending in an unexpected semi-final loss to Coolderry of Offaly at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds in February of 2012. That defeat stung the South Galway men but now they have the chance to make amends.

Ironically, the closest Gort came to winning the Tommy Moore Cup was when they fell (1-10 to 0-7) to Saturday’s opponents Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny in the 1983/’84 final replay and though the Galway champions will head to Thurles with no shortage of motivation, the fact that they can be freely backed at 7/2 to carry the day reflects the extent of the challenge facing them.

To be honest, anyone who was in Kenny Park in late April of last year watching them stumble over Liam Mellows in a first round championship tie after falling well behind, couldn’t have imagined that Gort would end up in an All-Ireland semi-final the following February – to put it mildly, they have turned themselves inside out in the interim.

Mind you, Gort didn’t have to be any great shakes to overcome the respective challenges of Ardrahan and Beagh in the knock-out stages of the title race, but they certainly hit the ground running when overcoming reigning All-Ireland champions Portumna, who admittedly had to endure over two months of inactivity, in a belated Galway final in mid-December.

The challengers had wind advantage in the first-half and though the heavy surface militated against much open hurling, Gort were in a good position at the break when leading by 0-9 to 0-5. For much of the remaining action, they were just doing enough to stay in front until Kevin Hayes brilliantly first-timed to the net to draw the teams’ level in the 57th minute.

Portumna, however, had barely stopped celebrating when Gort immediately delivered a fatal blow thanks to Wayne Walsh’s goal not long after being introduced to the action. They hadn’t wilted when the title holders struck for a timely equaliser and, for good measure, added a second green flag from Albert Mullins before the end.

We all know that Portumna are no longer the electrifying force which ruthlessly dismantled opponents in their hey-day, but Gort’s triumph still represented a notable achievement with the likes of half backs Aidan Harte and Greg Lally, along with the back-in-form Richie Cummins, making big contributions to the club’s seventh county title. There were influential displays too from the likes of Paul Killilea, the Linnanes’, Michael Cummins, Mark McMahon and Jason Grealish, who understandably tired after a long injury lay off.

Gort teams have never lacked resolution or grit over the years, but if they are to have any hope of derailing the Shamrocks, those qualities will have to be evident in abundance in Semple Stadium on Saturday. Their backs will have to get up close and personal with the vaunted Ballyhale attack, while their ability to close down the Kilkenny men further out the field will be critical to the outcome as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune

 

Connacht Tribune

Brolly goes too far in his mocking of Mayo after latest final reversal

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Cortoon Shamrocks' David Warde is challenged by Eoin Finnerty of St James’ during Saturday's senior football championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Inside Track with John McIntyre

KICKING a player and his team when they are at their lowest ebb is at its best insensitive and, at its worst, offensive. Sunday independent columnist Joe Brolly has never been a great fan of Mayo footballers or Aidan O’Shea and he again lowered the blade in the wake of the county’s latest All-Ireland final defeat.

We are all guilty of trying to justify our opinions and attitudes, but there is a time and place for everything. Brolly, an All-Ireland medal winner with Derry in 1993, perceives Mayo as serial losers and has never been slow to twist the knife when they continue to come up short on the days it most counts.

Given that the county has lost 11 All-Ireland finals plus two replays since last triumphant in 1951, Brolly has no shortage of hard evidence for backing up his claim that countless Mayo teams didn’t possess a sufficient hard edge to get the job done. The longer the title famine goes on, the more Mayo are open to accusations of lacking the bottle to get over the line.

Brolly’s withering assessment of Mayo’s disappointing loss to Tyrone last Saturday week leaves no one in any doubt about the disdain he holds for them. “Mayo is full of cliques and favourites as culture will not change under Horan who made Tyrone’s job easy.

“Time wasters. A lot of other counties would give their right arms to be here. The people of Mayo put their heart and soul into their team. And this is what they get? A manager on the sideline making choices based on political considerations. A protected captain who does not lead and never will.”

The former Sunday Game pundit didn’t hold back and probably feels his continuous personalised put downs of Mayo are justified given that they have yet to crack the All-Ireland code. Brolly, however, has gone too far this time, overstepping the mark of fair comment.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway show guts of champions in a terrific camogie final triumph

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Galway players Aoife Donohue and Siobhan Gardiner with young fan Aine Rohan from Beagh after defeating Cork in Sunday's All-Ireland senior camogie final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO Evan Treacy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THEY are a credit to the county. All the tributes flowing the way of the Galway camogie team this week are richly deserved after their storming finish floored the Rebels at Croke Park on Sunday. It was defiance of the highest order.

Team managers regularly demand of their players in all sports to be ‘carried out on your shield’, but it rarely happens. Too much tension; too much at stake; too much pressure. Well, these remarkable Tribeswomen were in no mood for compromise even when defeat was staring them in the face.

In my near 41-years in the Tribune, it’s doubtful if I have ever seen a Galway team in an All-Ireland final find such reserves of character and sheer heart when the gun was put to their heads. All day, they had hunted in packs but still found themselves three points down with ten minutes remaining in a thrilling showdown.

What more had they left to give? They had thrown everything at Cork from the off and still couldn’t protect their early established lead. It would have been easy to falter physically and mentally, but from somewhere Galway found the necessary resolve to carry the day.

It made for compelling viewing. Cathal Murray’s team were just not prepared to surrender. Instead, they were the ones who exhibited the qualities of champions in pulling the All-Ireland out of the fire. Cork, the most successful county in the history of the sport, was the team to flinch.

Galway’s triumph – their fourth All-Ireland ever – must rank as their greatest of them all. It wasn’t just the fact that it came after a terrific spectacle, but also in the manner of their victory. They had come to GAA headquarters to win and there was no turning back.

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

Even the laws of averages are on Mayo’s side against Tyrone

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Mayo's Tommy Conroy celebrates after landing a crucial point in their All-Ireland semi-final victory over champions Dublin at Croke Park last month.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHEN Mayo suffered their latest All-Ireland football final heartache in December of last year, most of us thought that was the end of them. They had put up a spirited first half display against Dublin, but the champions upped the ante on the resumption in going on to achieve a record breaking sixth championship triumph on the trot.

Gallant as ever, Mayo were left to grieve over a demoralising 12th consecutive All-Ireland final defeat, including the replays of 1996 and 2016, since they last took the Sam Maguire Cup home in 1951. Despite some changing of the guard, they had come up short again on the sport’s biggest occasion. It was little consolation to them that the greatest football force in the history of Gaelic football continued to pile on the misery.

After that defeat, great servants like David Clarke and Keith Higgins departed the scene. Donal Vaughan, Seamus O’Shea, Andy Moran and Tom Parsons were gone too. So close to scaling the summit on so much many occasions, they had given everything for the Mayo cause, but the passage of time had caught up with them.

Unlike previous big clashes against Dublin, there was little drama in Croke Park last December. Mayo again gave an honourable account of themselves, but Ciaran Kilkenny and company knew that they had the title in safe keeping with ten minutes to go. The fact the final was played behind closed doors might have been a blessing in disguise – after all, Mayo fans have suffered enough despair.

Of course, springtime generally brings fresh hope, and one thing Mayo footballers have never lacked for is resilience. Yet when Cillian O’Connor suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury against Clare in a league match in Ennis, the omens looked particularly grim for the championship. Sure, James Horan was building a relatively new team, but they could ill afford to be without their ace marksman.

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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