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Inside Track

Invincible Dublin make hay after O’Mahony dismissed

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Oliver Hester, Racing Manager presents the winning trophy to Rose Kelly, Killimor after Heathlawn Jet won the Magical Kennels A6 Final at Galway Greyhound Stadium. Also included are Pat Hogan, Teresa McClearn, Martin Kelly and Joe McClearn. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

A second modern-day GAA Goliath is sweeping all before them. Dublin are fast becoming the ‘Kilkenny’ of Gaelic football after putting arch rivals Kerry to the sword in the Division One National League final at Croke Park on Sunday to maintain their remarkable dominance of the competition.

Winning four league titles on the trot is impressive by any standards, but when it’s coupled with the Dubs capturing three of the last five All-Ireland championships, it underlines just how much Jim Galvin’s multi-talented squad have pulled away from the chasing pack. They are in a different league at present and that reputation must be particularly hard to stomach for their weekend victims.

Having lost to Dublin in several big collisions over the past few seasons, including last year’s All-Ireland final, the Kingdom would have been anxious to stop the rot in the 2016 league final. They were clearly up for the contest and were still hanging in there – just two points behind – when defender Aidan O’Mahony was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident with Jonny Cooper.

It’s doubtful if Kerry would have salvaged a result with even a full complement of players as the Dubs were starting to really crank up the pressure, but they had no chance at all after O’Mahony, who has lived close to the edge in the past, got his marching orders. The title holders immediately smelt blood and went for the jugular in the style of a team which is setting new standards in terms of athleticism, quality and physical power.

By the end, Dublin had stretched 11 points clear as they relentlessly pounded the Kerry posts in the final quarter. Granted, opposition keeper Brendan Kealy was badly fault when his short kick out went astray, presenting Paul Flynn with a guilt-edged opportunity to fire to the net from close range, but the incident also underlined the overall alertness of the best team in the country.

A second goal followed from substitute Enda Lowndes, and with fellow reserves, Kevin McManamon and Cormac Costello picking off some fine points, the final minutes must have been excruciating to watch for Kerry fans as the champions began playing ducks and drakes with them. A measure of Dublin’s remarkable consistency is that they have been unbeaten in competitive action since losing the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final to Donegal – a staggering run of 22 matches unbeaten.

When you consider that they have been lining out minus two of their defensive cornerstones, full back Rory Carroll and the 2015 Footballer of the Year, Jack McCaffrey, it shows the in-depth strength of the Dublin squad. Neither player is expected to feature in this year’s championship as both are out of the country pursuing their work careers, but the Dubs’ machine grinds on remorselessly. On this form, it’s impossible not to see them retaining the Sam Maguire Cup in September.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

 

Connacht Tribune

Loughrea’s standing is enhanced as champions pushed to the wire

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St Thomas' Victor Manso and Darragh Burke tussling for possession with Johnny Coen and Brian Keary of Loughrea during Sunday's County Hurling Final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

EVEN the might Kilkenny hurlers couldn’t manage it in 2010 which underlines how difficult the challenge was for St Thomas’ to complete their own ‘Drive for Five’ at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Breaking new ground is never easy for the best of teams, but at least the Galway champions will have a second crack at it.

They entered the 2022 county final as heavy favourites to capture a fifth consecutive Galway title despite five of their team – it would have been six only for James Regan’s injury – having started in the club’s historic triumph of ten years ago. It was their first appearance in a final and it heralded a period of unexpected domination which has resulted in six championships in a decade.

Having won every final they have featured in up to now, St Thomas’ have it down to a fine art in taking care of business on the big days that matter. But they were shaken to the core in Salthill and, at times in a great game, you felt their time at the top was about to come to an end. Four points down with eight minutes of normal time remaining. St Thomas’ had never previously faced such a crisis in a county final.

Typically, their response spoke volumes for the team’s resilience and talent. A late goal and two points from the outstanding Éanna Burke looked to have turned the tide in their favour, and they were seconds away from celebrating a milestone achievement – only done twice before by Castlegar and Turloughmore in Galway.

It would have represented the crowning glory for the glorious club careers of the Burke brothers, David, Cathal, Darragh and Éanna – a utilised sub in 2012 – Conor Cooney and Bernard Burke, but fairytales don’t happen as often in sport as some people would like to think. St Thomas’ have to do it all over again but, on the balance play last Sunday, they should be grateful for that opportunity.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Loughrea’s return to big stage can bring freshness to county final day

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Loughrea manager, Tommy Kelly, and team captain Ian Hanrahan, Liam Brady, Branch Manager, Brooks Timber and Building supplies (sponsors), and St Thomas’ captain Conor Cooney and manager, Kenneth Burke, attending the county senior hurling media event. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was a time when 10,000-plus crowds regularly descended on Galway senior hurling finals, but those days are long gone. The temptation to largely blame that scenario on the near-annual lateness in completing the campaign is obvious, and though it is a factor, there are other more pertinent issues.

The live streaming of matches – a legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic – has hit attendances at GAA club championships, and Galway is no different, but an extra complication locally has been the jaundiced view of many hurling followers, notably in the east of the county, towards travelling to Pearse Stadium for big matches.

We have lost count of the number of hurling followers who can’t stomach the thought of crawling through city centre traffic to get to Salthill. Arriving on Galway’s eastern fringes is the easy part, but then getting across to Pearse Stadium can often prove a nightmare. Parking is another issue. And, of course, there is also the view that the weather is more often than not wet and windy at the county’s premier ground.

All of this is contributing to diminishing crowds at Pearse Stadium, especially for hurling matches. A modest crowd of over 4,000 turned up for the semi-finals last Sunday week and though it was a bleak day, the lack of atmosphere and excitement was plain to see. The ironic part is that the venue is equipped with substantial seating and no shortage of catering and toilet facilities.

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.

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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

Loughrea haven’t quite come from nowhere but are major force again

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Loughrea's Joe Mooney launching an attack against Seán Kilduff of Clarinbridge during Sunday's County Senior Hurling semi-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

We hadn’t seen Loughrea hurlers in the flesh for at least two years, leaving us open-minded about their title prospects. Reaching Sunday’s county semi-finals at Pearse Stadium with a 100% record was a statement in itself, but could Tommy Kelly’s charges take it to the next level?

To do that, Loughrea needed to turn the tables on Clarinbridge from last year’s knock-out defeat. The fact that they were the pre-match favourites to do so suggested ‘The Town’ had improved significantly over the past 12 months. What happened in Salthill at the weekend confirmed it.

There was a time when Loughrea were a frequent sight in county finals. Between 2003 and 2013, they appeared in seven of them, but only managed a lone triumph – that narrow 1-13 to 0-15 victory over Portumna in the 2006 controversial decider when much of the post-match focus was on an unsavoury incident involving Joe Canning.

It was a sweet success for Loughrea having lost to Portumna in the finals of 2003 and ’06, but they would also fall in two more deciders to the same opposition in 2009 and 2013, the last time they reached the county final. Loughrea also came off second best in a replay to Clarinbridge in 2010 and they also endured final-day misery against St Thomas’ two years later.

Three of their key players during that time – Greg Kennedy, Gavin Keary and Nigel Murray – are now serving as Kelly’s lieutenants on the sideline, while respected coach Shane Cusack is also involved. Loughrea have probably the biggest backroom team in the championship which indicates that they are throwing everything at this campaign.

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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