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Keating controversy adds to Galway hurling’s woes

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Mary Feeney presents the winning trophy to Noel and Michael Burke and Pat Folan, members of the Shoot A Hoop Syndicate, after Battling Boru won the John Mulholland Bookmakers Handicap Hurlde at Ballybrit on Monday. Also included are Olive Walsh and Tony Mullins, trainer. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Galway hurling is in a right mess after a year to forget on so many different levels. If you take Portumna’s All-Ireland club triumph last March out of the equation, there’s hardly been anything to celebrate in 2014. Passionate followers of the game locally are demoralised as the county stumbles from one crisis to another with little accountability in evidence.

On the field, it was the worst year for Galway teams in living memory. The seniors may have taken eventual All-Ireland champions Kilkenny to a replay, but there was a freakish element to their late exploits in the drawn Leinster semi-final. In the end, Galway didn’t even get to a quarter-final or Croke Park and, for the second season running, only managed to claim the championship scalps of minnows Laois.

At minor level, Galway were blown away by the quality and physique of a Limerick team which didn’t even win the All-Ireland title; the county U-21s lost their nerve down the home stretch against Wexford; while the Galway intermediates surrendered a big lead against Cork in Tullamore. No shortage of work went in to the preparations of these teams, but you now have the sense that Galway are lagging behind the big hurling powers in physical development and tactical appreciation.

Subsequently, there was the long drawn out process which led to the re-appointment of Anthony Cunningham as senior team manager. Despite publicly stating he wanted to stay in charge, the St. Thomas’ clubman was opposed by his former coach, the Galway U21 manager and a hero from the eighties. You’d either have expected that Cunningham would have got the message or that the Hurling Committee might have knocked some heads together, but basically it was left to every candidate for himself.

Former double All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Daly’s name was also floated, but the asking price for the Clare man’s involvement is assumed to have been too high, if negotiations even reached that stage. Ultimately, Cunningham held on only by the skin of his teeth, his continuing tenure reportedly relying on a casting vote.

Supporters have been disgruntled for years over the style in which Galway hurling is administered, with personal biases often believed to be surmounting what’s in the best interests of the sport locally. Reports of ongoing friction between the Hurling Committee and County Board officers is only adding to the sense of frustration and, the proof of the pudding, is the dwindling numbers of people following Galway teams.

Furthermore, the system in which the county hurling championship has been run over the past two years has been unwieldy and unbalanced. Six teams consigned to relegation with indecent haste before another one has even contested a game; and knock out matches played before the title race evolves into groups. The cart before the horse and all that! But now the protracted Matthew Keating affair has put the tin hat on it all.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Inconsistent Covid restrictions just driving people up the walls

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Lynsey McKey in action against Paula Doran of Bohemians during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

OUR patience with Ireland’s ongoing battle against Covid-19 is running out. We are tired of the constant negative narrative, the scaremongering and regular qualification of any good news. The Government and NPHET continue to kill the morale of their own people with inconsistent coronavirus restrictions.

We can be in the middle of one wave of the virus and the prophets of doom are already warning about the next one. Caution has been taken to extremes and it’s only driving a large proportion of the population up the walls, especially those involved with sport. Some of the restrictions are now doing more harm than good.

The danger of sticking your head above the parapet is that you are immediately accused of not respecting or ignoring a public health emergency; that you are in some way complicit in keeping the virus on these shores longer than necessary; that you are indifferent to the suffering of thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

I get that, but I am none of the above. I belong to a large cohort of people who are applying logic and common sense to what is going on. For instance, there is no earthly good reason why golf courses and tennis courts have to remain out of bounds until near the end of the month, or why team sport – at all levels – played outdoors isn’t also back up and running, at least in terms of training.

We are constantly told that being outdoors reduces the risk of virus transmissions significantly; that it is a much safer environment compared to indoor settings. Yet, the Government and NPHET are not helping us practice what they preach. There are thousands of young sports people all over the country who are being driven close to insanity; cooked up with little to do.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Boss Kenny can’t buy a break as dream job turns into a nightmare

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Therese Kinnevey and Shauna Brennan leading this charge against Cork City WFC during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

STEPHEN Kenny looked a tormented soul after the Republic of Ireland’s shock World Cup qualifying loss to the minnows of Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. The Dubliner is only a few months in charge of the team, but everything that could go wrong has gone wrong since he took over from Mick McCarthy.

After the reasonable promise of Ireland’s away defeat to Serbia the previous Wednesday, the visit of Luxembourg to Dublin was understandably tagged as a match Seamus Coleman and company simply had to win and, in the process, finally give some overdue momentum to Kenny’s tenure.

Unfortunately, Ireland just didn’t perform or deliver against the 98th rated team in the world. Instead, the match appeared to be trundling to a nil-all draw conclusion when Luxembourg stunned their hosts with a well-taken 85th winner from Gerson Rodrigues. Suddenly, a bad night had turned into a disastrous one.

With injuries again hitting Kenny’s selection plans – Galway’s Aaron Connolly was among the absentees – there was another youthful appeal to his line up, including a debut for 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who did well in challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, the rest of the team were found wanting.

The reality now is that Ireland’s World Cup ambitions are already over after just two matches, a scenario which has cranked up the pressure on the team’s beleaguered boss. Kenny just can’t buy a break in the job. Between Covid, absentees and injuries, his time at the helm has been spent trying to cobble together teams to represent Ireland. He is constantly dealing with a compromised hand.

In those circumstances, any manager would struggle and though Kenny has a strong winning pedigree in League of Ireland football, this is a different world altogether and already, you get a sense that the vultures are circling, notwithstanding the FAI’s public vote of confidence expressed by Chairperson Ray Barrett in the wake of the Luxembourg defeat.

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

Brilliant duo Blackmore and De Bromhead rewrite record books

John McIntyre

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Galway amateur jockey Eoin Mahon and Beating The Odds (on right) clearing the last on their way to victory over Difficult Decision in the Leugh Handicap Hurdle at Thurles on Saturday. Photo: Caroline Norris.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HEADING into last week’s Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, even the dogs on the street knew that the Irish raiders were in for a bonanza, but few anticipated such an unprecedented wipe out of the home challenge. It was getting embarrassing by the end of the fourth day as Irish horse after Irish horse stormed up the hill – often in glorious isolation.

Ultimately, the UK had to be content with a mere five winners over the 28-race programme with not a solitary success registered over hurdles – a truly astonishing scenario. Time and again, some of their supposedly big guns were found wanting in the Cotswolds, with only Nicky Henderson’s pair, the brilliant Shishkin and Chantry Horse, recording Grade One successes.

For Ireland to land 23 races at the Olympics of the sport underlines how much the balance of power has switched at Cheltenham in modern times. Only staying hurdler Galmoy had prevented an Irish whitewash in 1987 and ’88, while the raiding party returned empty-handed from the meeting in 1989.

Of course, Cheltenham was only a three-day festival back then, but the Irish dominance over the past few years is still remarkable. Sure, we have exceptional trainers in Willie Mullins, Henry De Bromhead and Gordon Elliott, and some wealthy individuals are splashing out on the best of thoroughbreds coming up for sale, but British National Hunt racing is on its knees in terms of quality after last week’s drubbing.

The poor prizemoney on offer in the UK is clearly a big factor in British based owners – like Cheverly Park – sending their horses across the Irish Sea to be trained, while some cross-channel trainers have already publicly questioned their own racing programme in the context of too many handicaps and not enough races at the top end level.

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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