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Inside Track

Hurling’s force of nature sweep Tipperary men aside again

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The Kilkerrin Clonberne team which won the Tesco All-Ireland ladies football club sevens senior final in Naomh Mearnóg GAA Club, Portmarnock. Back row, left to right: Back Row: Michael Divillly, Caoimhe Boyle, Sarah Gormally, Nicola Ward, Claire Dunleavy, Louise Ward, Emma Flanagan, Lisa Walsh, Willie Ward. Front row: Eamon Mahony, Niamh Divilly, Olivia Divilly, Ailbhe Mahony, Aoife McStay, Lisa Murphy, Annie Boyle.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE All-Ireland hurling final replay at Croke Park on Saturday evening was a different kind of animal to the epic drawn encounter and it was largely played on Kilkenny’s terms.

Again, it produced another riveting contest, but the Cats rarely allowed Tipperary the kind of space they had thrived in three weeks previously in maintaining their modern-day dominance over the county’s arch rivals.

Records fell all over the place at GAA headquarters. It was Kilkenny’s tenth All-Ireland title in 16 years; their seventh in ninth seasons; Henry Shefflin became the first hurler to win ten senior medals; JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh reach nine; while Brian Cody leads the Noresiders to a tenth All-Ireland triumph under his watch.

Saturday’s replay success also underlined why Kilkenny have been a law unto themselves over the past 15 years. This great team’s long established attributes of savage commitment, intensity, manic desire and unrelenting work ethic were all at the core of their latest victory over Tipperary. They took hooking and blocking to new levels of defiance and though it’s hard to credit given all that they have won, Kilkenny had a clear edge in hunger over Eamon O’Shea’s chastened troops too.

What makes Kilkenny’s latest championship achievement all the more phenomenal was that many neutrals thought that they were a spent force after last year’s quarter-final exit to Cork in Thurles. They looked a battle weary outfit that day; had earlier lost a replay to Dublin in the provincial campaign; while Cody had to take a break from sideline duties due to illness. Furthermore, Kilkenny hadn’t even played in Croke Park in 2013 and, putting all those things together, it was easy reach the conclusion that they, at least, faced a couple of years in transition.

Against that background, Kilkenny’s immediate renaissance this year is nothing short of amazing, but this team has never conformed to normal standards. In 2014, they have won everything: the Walsh Cup; the National League; the Leinster title; and now the county’s 35th All-Ireland championship. Their longer serving celebrated in Croke Park on Saturday evening as though they were just after winning their first Celtic Cross. This was one against the head.

Kilkenny were admittedly stretched at times in the opening half of Saturday’s replay, but they reached the interval only two points behind before going on to largely dominate the second-half with the switch of the previously subdued Colin Fennelly to full forward a key move. The Power brothers, Richie and John, also burst into life and it was their goals in the final quarter which sent Tipperary over the edge.

In fact, Kilkenny ought to have won by more. Opposition goalkeeper Darren Gleeson made a couple of critical interventions while Seamus Callanan’s second goal in the 69th minute was more the product of a lucky break than Tipperary cutting the Kilkenny defence apart as Lar Corbett had done in setting up Callanan’s opening goal seven minutes from the break. You could argue that Brendan Maher and company were the better team up to half time, but they were too goal hungry and spurned a couple of routine point-scoring opportunities in the vain pursuit of rattling the Kilkenny net.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Sporting organisations letting us down by rolling over to NPHET

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Galway players Niamh McGrath and Siobhan Gardiner show their disappointment after falling to Kilkenny in Sunday's National Camogie League final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IRELAND’S various big sporting organisations continue to embarrass themselves in relation to how they are handling the Covid pandemic. Being slaves to public health guidelines is one thing, but these bodies have introduced some rules of their own which are only further alienating their support base.

The GAA, IRFU, the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland may be currently dependent on public finances to keep their respective shows on the road, but that can’t excuse their lack of independent thinking or the fact they are making a deeply frustrating situation worse by adding in their own Covid-19 regulations

In effect, these sporting bodies are trying too hard to please NPHET and it doesn’t seem to matter how much they inconvenience or antagonise their grassroots in the process. Take the GAA, for instance. At club level dressing rooms remain closed and that causes significant irritation, especially on wet days.

Horse Racing Ireland is no better. Two owners per runner have been allowed back at race meetings and while that number is about to increase to four, there has been little enthusiasm among the cohort of people who pay the bills to return. And why would they? – no catering, no bookies and no atmosphere. And the most absurd thing of all is that the racing authorities are still enforcing the mask-wearing regulation.

Imagine still having to use a face covering in what amounts to big open fields. Is Horse Racing Ireland clueless as to how foolish jockeys, trainers, the few owners and media people present are being made to look, especially when the risk of contracting Covid is negligible in such an environment? All the while, beaches, public parks and walkways are milling with people.

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

All is not lost for footballers but Galway’s slump must end soon

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VICTORY DELIGHT: Galway's Ailish O'Reilly, Niamh Hanniffy and Roisin Black celebrate their National Camogie League semi-final win over Cork at Nowlan Park last Sunday. Photo: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Inside Track with John McIntyre

PADRAIC Joyce must have been tearing his hair out as he watched the Galway footballers throw away their National League Division One League relegation battle against Monaghan in Clones on Sunday. No wonder he declined to face the press corps afterwards.

The outcome – a one-point extra-time defeat – was a disastrous one for a Galway team which badly needed to get a result in this pressure test ahead of the Connacht championship. Instead, the camp must be demoralised at letting such a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. It was carelessness in the extreme.

Five points ahead thanks largely to timely opening-half goals from Rob Finnerty and Paul Kelly, Galway had all the hard work done as they held a five-point advantage with only minutes remaining. A morale-boosting win seemed all but assured. Instead, the Tribesmen subsequently imploded.

For much of the match, Galway were winning the majority of the key battles but they were keeping Monaghan in the hunt through some sloppy finishing. In his hey-day as a player, Joyce would never have been so charitable, but his team lacked the necessary ruthlessness to kill off the Monaghan challenge.

There was a lot of poor decision making in front of the opposition posts as well, but Galway were in sight of preserving their Division One status only to blow it. To Monaghan’s credit, they never gave up and in substitute Jack McCarron they possessed the best finisher on the field.

Long serving players Darren Hughes and Colm McManus also came up with crucial late scores in normal time to help catch Galway and force the contest into extra time. Here again, Galway had their chances but the teams were still deadlocked when they gave away possession coming out of defence, presenting the accurate McCarron with the chance to land his fifth point from play. He didn’t miss.

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

Hurling we have a problem: there are too many scores in the game

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Galway attacker Brian Concannon comes under pressure from Waterford’s Conor Prunty during Sunday's hurling league tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S the summer of 2006 and a mistake-ridden Leinster hurling semi-final at Nowlan Park is unfolding. Two nervous teams chasing a big prize in a tight-marking, uninspiring battle for supremacy. In the end, Wexford somehow manage to stagger over the line despite only scoring a paltry nine points.

Imagine holding the opposition to a total score in single figures and still not winning the match. Unfortunately, I was the Offaly team manager that day and we were the ones who had to cope with that reality. Our tally only came to eight points and, in the process, a golden opportunity of victory had been spurned.

Between both teams only 17 points were registered and while that is an extreme example of when hurling was more defender friendly, what’s happening nowadays is arguably worse. There are just many scores in the game now – a scenario which reduces our appreciation of exceptional score-taking simply because they have become so frequent.

Sure, players have never been better conditioned, the sport’s stakeholders are much more tactically aware and the sliotar has become really user friendly, but spectators – If they were any! – are being turned off by this literally ‘score a minute’ phenomenon. It’s actually not unusual for three scores to be registered in just a minute.

God, I’d hate to be a defender these days with the ball whizzing all-round the place and your opponent never static. Grand, if you are a Calum Lyons or Ronan Maher who can bomb forward with impunity to fire over long-range points, but for most present-day back men, the game is nearly passing them by.

Teams have become so good at protecting possession, creating overlaps and isolating their shooters that opposition defences are left chasing shadows. An astonishing 58 scores were accumulated at Pearse Stadium last Sunday with eight players – Lyons, Dessie Hutchinson, Jack Prendergast, Joe Canning, Evan Niland, Conor Cooney, Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon all scoring at least three times from play.

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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