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Inside Track

Keeper Durcan in the dock as Kerry return to summit

John McIntyre

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Turloughmore's Padraig Kearney breaking away from Loughrea's Gearoid Loughnane during the counhty minor A hurling final at Kenny Park last Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT may not have lived up to all the hype and expectation, but last Sunday’s first ever All-Ireland football final meeting between Kerry and Donegal still proved a fascinating affair. This was a showdown where the rival team managements were never going to adopt a free-flowing approach with the result that the capacity crowd in Croke Park and the huge television audience instead had to witness a largely negative, tactically strangled encounter.

Defending in numbers was the manta of the day, especially after the way Donegal had ransacked a too attack-conscious Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final. Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his mentors would have forensically taken apart that match video and given that they are fast learners in Kerry when it comes to football, they were not going to fall into Dublin’s trap of all-out attacking only to leave themselves lacking cover at the back.

Yet, for all the tactics and planning, sometimes all it takes is one calamitous error to swing a big game one team’s way. Unfortunately, Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan was the player in the dock afterwards after his shocking stray kick out into the hands of the grateful Kieran Donaghy in the 52nd minute turned what up to then had been an extraordinarily tight contest Kerry’s way.

Donaghy, the renaissance man of the football summer, accepted the gift to put Kerry four points and though Donegal bravely responded with three unanswered points of their own from substitute Patrick McBrearty (two) and full back Neil McGee, the Munster champions had struck a huge psychological blow and were always going to find extra reserves down the home stretch, especially as the game had begun to open up somewhat.

Kerry couldn’t have hoped for a better start when Paul Geaney, isolated one on one with Paddy McGrath, tucked his shot neatly into the far corner of the net after just 52 seconds and when Donaghy fired over a fine point in the fourth minute, you wouldn’t have believed then that the Kingdom would only add a mere two points to their tally by half-time.

They were taking on Donegal at their own game, but after that explosive start Kerry were still determined to keep it tight and though the Ulster men were also running into heavy traffic, they gradually wiped out the deficit with Michael Murphy’s accuracy from frees helping to settle them down. Donegal only managed their first score from play when midfielder Odhran MacNiallais fly-kicked the ball over the bar in the 29th minute, but they were still level (1-3 to 0-6) at the break.

They had recovered well from that nightmare start and appeared to be wearing down Kerry. Much of the third quarter was largely unforgettable, however, as both teams spurned several routine chances. Kerry had just edged ahead when Durcan, who had only conceded two goals on Donegal’s way to the final and was outstanding against Dublin, got his wires crossed with his short kick out going astray. It was a schoolboy error and must have really rocked Donegal, but they had the margin back to one only for Kerry to kick on again with points from Johnny Buckley, Barry John Walsh (free) and Donaghy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

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

John McIntyre

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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.

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Connacht Tribune

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

John McIntyre

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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.

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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

Galway’s positive response to their Tralee trauma continues

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Peter Cooke gets his pass away against Dublin’s Sean McMahon during Sunday's National Football League encounter at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

It’s barely three weeks since the Tralee thrashing and all the resulting criticism – much of it over the top and irrational – but Galway footballers have admirably rallied in the wake of that demoralising reversal and can now look forward to the upcoming Connacht championship with a certain sense of optimism.

Sure, nobody can disguise the reality that the Tribesmen have lost five of their last six competitive matches and are bound for a Division One league relegation battle against Monaghan, but Galway still showed a lot of promise in their weekend four-point loss to All-Ireland champions Dublin at Tuam Stadium.

The display built on their win over Roscommon the previous weekend and had Galway not bungled a great first-half goal-scoring opportunity, they would have shaken up the Dubs even more. Falling six points behind in the third quarter would really have tested the home team’s team mettle, but significantly heads never dropped.

Granted, Dublin were missing the likes of Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy and Dean Rock, but the suggestion from a couple of pundits that they were only in ‘third gear’ in Tuam is a load of tosh. They were made to work hard for their victory with Cormac Costello, Con O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny achieving most to get them over the line.

Overall, Galway’s response to their heavy defeat against Kerry has been positive. There was no public blood-letting with management and players backing each other in their hour of need. That type of environment builds character and the manner in which they had a crack against the Dubs was heartening.

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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