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Inside Track

Hurlers steady the nerves with easy win in Mullingar

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Galway Team Doctor Ian O'Connor checks out Joe Canning's neck injury after he was struck off the-ball in Sunday's Leinster Championship quarter final against Westmeath in Mullingar. The incident led to the dismissal of defender Shane Power. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The potential ambush in Mullingar never materialised. Westmeath simply didn’t possess the artillery to bring about one of the greatest shocks in the history of the hurling championship. The presumption that the Midland minnows had been making significant progress this summer, together with their U-21s’ sensational win over Kilkenny, actually counted against them . . . for Galway were on their toes heading to Cusack Park.

In their two previous Leinster championship encounters in 2011 and ‘12, Westmeath had been competitive and subjected the Tribesmen to a fright on each occasion. This time round Michael Ryan’s charges appeared in even better shape, having come through the round-robin stages of the provincial title race unbeaten, with their surprise 2-22 to 1-11 victory over Offaly in Mullingar a real statement of intent.

Ironically, however, with their cover blown there was unfamiliar pressure on Westmeath to give Galway a serious rattling last Sunday. They clearly didn’t cope well with that situation and probably under-performed. The hosts needed a flying start, but instead they were 0-7 to 0-2 behind after only 14 minutes with goalkeeper Paddy Maloney having already bailed them out of trouble on more than one occasion.

By half time, struggling Westmeath were 0-17 to 0-5 adrift and one of the romantic stories of the early GAA summer was coming to an end. The likes of Niall O’Brien, in particular, Alan Devine and substitutes, Brendan Murtagh and Niall Mitchell, did pick off some neat scores, but they never threatened to live up to the hopes of their supporters among the decent attendance of 5,283.

Even allowing for Westmeath’s limitations, this still represented a positive day’s work from Galway. There is little to be served from raking up again the fallout from the heave against previous manager Anthony Cunningham and the team’s subsequent relegation to Division 1B, except that it wasn’t the ideal background for new boss Micheál Donoghue in the build up to his championship debut.

In the circumstances, Sunday’s convincing 17-point triumph is a timely boost to Donoghue and his management. There is nothing like winning to keep the begrudgers at bay and though beating 14-man Westmeath, who lost defender Shane Power in the 39th minute after he injured Joe Canning in an off-the-ball incident, must be kept in perspective, at least the work ethic among the players was strong and they also went about their business in a professional manner.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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.

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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.

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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

Anxious time for Mountbellew as referee’s report pulls no punches

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Mountbellew-Moylough's Michael Daly vents his frustration with referee Jerome Henry after their controversial defeat to Padraig Pearses in the Connacht Club Senior Football Semi-Final at Hyde Park in November. The Galway champions face disciplinary action over the angry post-match scenes.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Mountbellew-Moylough’s defence of the Galway senior football title could be over before it even begins if the Connacht Council uphold the referee’s report into their controversial provincial semi-final defeat at Hyde Park in December.

The fallout from the heated post-match scenes after their 1-8 to 1-7 agonising loss to Padraig Pearses of Roscommon threatens to wreck the Galway champions’ hopes of holding onto the Frank Fox Cup in 2022, with up to seven Mountbellew-Moylough players facing suspensions.

Match referee Jerome Henry has thrown the book at nearly half of the Mountbellew-Moylough team for angrily confronting the Mayo official moments after the final whistle. The losing camp were left incensed by several disputed late decisions which cost them at least a draw with their Roscommon opponents.

Two of the big talking points in the closing minutes was Henry’s failure to award a free and a mark – which offered the potential of a winning score – in two separate incidents involving the same Mountbellew-Moylough player, Barry McHugh. Having covered the game, I was baffled by those controversial non-interventions.

McHugh had earlier been harshly black-carded for a push on opposition goalkeeper Paul Whelen after scoring a first half goal, while Mountbellew-Moylough’s growing frustrations would have boiled over after finishing a fractious affair with only 13 players – both midfielder Matthew Barrett and defender John Daly ending up on the sideline.

Even from a neutral’s perspective, it was impossible not to conclude that Mountbellew-Moylough had got a raw deal, but their angry post-match reaction which led to verbal abuse and some pushing of Henry and one of his linesmen has placed the club in the disciplinary dock, with hefty suspensions hanging over a number of their players.

Nobody can condone scenes of irate players surrounding and confronting a referee, and laying bare their grievances over his officiating. Henry didn’t do a good job, but he is a volunteer and players must be disciplined in such scenarios. The GAA have been clamping down on incidents involving referees and even mild interference with officials is being dealt with harshly.

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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