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Inside Track

Hurling reaches a new level in greatest final of all time

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Loughrea's Herb Stanley congratulates jockey Pat Smullen after riding his horse So Sensible to victory in the James P. Cunningham Electrical Handicap at the Galway September meeting on Monday. The horse is led in by Herb's grandson Tiernan Killeen.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Sometimes hurling people can come across as pious when preaching about the unique qualities of their sport, but there can be no doubt that after last Sunday’s epic All-Ireland final between fierce rivals Tipperary and Kilkenny at Croke Park that the game is in a league of its own when played with such unrelenting power, pace and skill.

This was the greatest game of hurling I have ever seen. Never mind the heart-stopping drama and the fact that the result was in doubt until the very end, Sunday’s pulsating showdown was also laced with extraordinary individual deeds, the greatest exhibition of score-taking ever seen at this level in September and players pushing their bodies to the absolute limit in pursuit of victory.

Maybe, we thought the same when these two teams also served up extraordinary battles for supremacy in 2009 and ’10, while last year’s drawn All-Ireland final between Clare and Cork will live long in the memory too, but those great matches were all eclipsed by what unfolded at GAA headquarters last weekend. This was as close to hurling perfection as made no difference.

Ultimately, it was the brilliant, sustained accuracy of the rival combatants which stamped the 2014 decider apart. Tipperary, for instance, created 31 point-scoring opportunities and, incredibly, converted 28 of them, often under serious pressure. I can never remember a team only having three wides in an All-Ireland final, but Tipperary took their marksmanship to a new level last Sunday.

Kilkenny only registered six wides on a day they landed 22 points and engineered three goals of the highest quality. They needed them too such was the damage the Tipperary snipers were doing at the other end, but hurling’s greatest team again came up with the answers to survive a Trojan effort from their neighbours in a magnificent contest which had the capacity crowd of over 82,000 enthralled from start to finish.

The accuracy of both teams was just out of this world, with a quartet of players shooting four points or more from play in an All-Ireland final for the first time ever. Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer, Seamus Callanan and Noel McGrath raised 14 white flags between them, while Man of the Match Richie Hogan, who really cut loose when moved to the forty, had a half dozen points to his name at the finish. O’Dwyer and Callanan also added two frees each to their tallies in a decider which set a new benchmark for overall hurling artistry.

In one way, Tipperary did so many things right in amassing a superb tally of 1-28 that they must be wondering how they still didn’t manage to win the game and, in the process, end the county’s recent torment against the Cats, but this generation of Kilkenny hurlers don’t confirm to normal standards even if a couple of their longer serving players were out on their feet at the finish.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Solskjaer’s stock is dipping into the red as United start to stumble again

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Monivea-Abbey Lee Kenny on the attack against Kieran Molloy of Corofin during Sunday's senior football championship tie at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALEX Ferguson’s shadow still hangs over Old Trafford. The uncompromising Glaswegian was always going to be a hard act to follow at Manchester United, but few supporters anticipated that the club would lose its way so much over the intervening eight years.

Ferguson was United manager from 1982 to 2013 and despite the lack of instant success, he would go on to make the Red Devils the most envied club in the world. During that time, he repeatedly built, took apart and rebuilt successful teams. 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Uefa Champion Leagues were the highlights of his long tenure.

When Ferguson finally stood down, he had given his blessing to his anointed successor David Moyes, the long-serving Everton manager who made the team consistently competitive without winning any trophies. With big shoes to fill, Moyes appeared overwhelmed by the pressure and barely lasted ten months at Old Trafford having signed a six-year contract.

The sacking of Moyes – a move some former United players considered premature – has led to a managerial merry go around at the club. One of them, Ryan Giggs, briefly acted in a caretaker capacity until he was replaced by then Dutch manager Louis van Gaal in May of 2014.

His long ball tactic, the failure of some of his expensive signings to make a sustained impact – remember Argentinian Ángel Di María who came with a near £60m price tag – and lack of silverware meant van Gaal was already a dead manager walking before delivering the FA Cup to United in May of 2016. Two days later he was fired.

Egomaniac José Mourinho was next in the Manchester hot seat. One time, it might have been a match made in heaven, but the Portuguese’s tactics had become increasingly conservative and his inclination to put the blame on his players when results weren’t going their way didn’t go down well in the corridors of power.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Walloping in Whistllng Straits leaves Euro captain Harrington in the rough

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Castlegar's Seán Neary eyes up his options against Matthew Keating of Turloughmore during Sunday's Senior A hurling championship tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WELL, that was some anti-climax in Whistling Straits. After all the hype and months of build-up, the delayed 2020 Ryder Cup turned into an embarrassing turkey shoot as the USA inflicted a humiliating record-breaking 19-9 defeat on the out-of-sorts Europeans.

The home triumph was hardly unexpected, but the scale of it was. From the opening foursomes last Friday morning, Padraig Harrington’s team was vainly playing catch up. Only for the exploits of the Spanish armada in Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia over the opening two days, the match could have been over by Sunday’s 12 singles.

As it was, the European goose was already cooked heading into the final day’s play. Trailing by 11-5 and with most of their team even to register a half-point, the omens were not good for a heroic comeback along the lines of what happened in Medinah in 2012. The prospect of winning nine of the 12 singles was just fanciful in any event given the superb form of the Americans.

Though Rory McIlroy, who had a nightmare experience over the opening two days – not even getting to the 16th tee box in any of his three outings – salvaged some pride in winning the top match against Xander Schauffele (3&2), it was soon a sea of red in the other singles which the USA ended up winning 8-4.

True, an American success was overdue – they hadn’t won the Ryder Cup since 2016 and had lost all bar two of the last nine matches – but so many of the Europeans were below par over the three days that it killed any prospect of any late drama or thrills. It was just so one-sided with Dustin Johnson becoming only the third golfer in the history of the Ryder Cup to win all his five matches.

With an average age of only 29 and eight of their team in the World’s top 10, it was set up for the USA to inflict some overdue misery on the Europeans, but few expected that they would be so dominant; so superior. The body language of some of the European players wasn’t good – notably McIlroy’s – and you never got the sense that the holders believed that they could turn it around.

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.

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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

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.

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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