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Inside Track

Keeper Durcan in the dock as Kerry return to summit

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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

Turlough’s thumping of title holders opens up the hurling championship

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St Thomas’ v Turloughmore Senior Hurling Championship game at Kenny Park, Athenry. Dara Whelan, Turloughmore and Victor Manso, St Thomas’

Inside Track with John McIntyre

TURLOUGHMORE blew the Galway senior hurling championship wide open with an unexpected thumping of title holders St Thomas’ at Kenny Park on Saturday. With questions to answer after fading badly in an earlier group tie against Clarinbridge, Franny Forde’s charges achieved a statement victory which must have sent shock waves throughout the county.

Having come up narrowly short in the 2020 decider against St Thomas’ in front of empty terraces in Athenry, Turlough looked like a team primed to exploit significant under-age success, but they had a blow-out in last year’s preliminary quarter-final when surrendering a 10-point lead to rank outsiders Kilnadeema/Leitrim.

That left the team with questions to answer heading into 2022, and that disappointing 0-24 to 0-17 loss to Clarinbridge in August appeared to confirm that Turloughmore were missing the level of substance and belief in their ranks which potential champions require. But all bets are off after last Saturday’s demolition job of St Thomas’.

Carrying the day by a scarcely believable 2-23 to 0-14 against an admittedly out-of-sorts champions must do wonders for the squad’s confidence, and with Seán Loftus continuing to hurl up a storm in the group stages – seven points of his 1-12 total came from play – Turloughmore are now serious contenders for title glory.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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McStay getting Mayo post means Galway must be wary about 2023

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Mountbellew-Moylough's Leo Donnellan and Mikey Culhane of Salthill Knocknacarra battling for possession during Sunday's Senior Football Champiomship tie at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Those of us who were thinking that a protracted period of dominance in the province lay ahead of the Galway footballers are probably revising that opinion in the light of Kevin McStay taking over the unluckiest team of all-time. When it comes to bad breaks, Mayo are in a league of their own.

Losing six All-Ireland finals – including the 2016 replay against Dublin – over the past decade has been gut wrenching for both players and supporters. There is only so much big-day misery a county can take, but Mayo remain the eternal optimists; their spirits unbroken. Football is their lifeblood, the pulse of everyday life up there.

Yet, even their most optimistic fans must have thought that the All-Ireland dream is finally over for Leer Keegan, Rob Hennelly, the O’Connors, Kevin McLaughlin and Aidan O’Shea after a tame quarter-final exit to Kerry this summer. Coming on the back of last year’s demoralising final defeat to Tyrone, the general presumption was that Mayo faced a significant period of transition.

It was no surprise when James Horan stood down as manager in the wake of the Kerry loss, with four candidates interested in filling the vacancy – McStay being joined in the race by Ray Dempsey, Mike Solan and Declan Shaw who all put together strong backroom teams with the likes of Armagh’s Oisín McConville and Sligo’s Eamon O’Hara seemingly willing to throw in their lot with Mayo.

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

Donoghue and Kelly join the list of outsiders hoping to work the oracle

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Ardrahan team manager Syl Dolan supported by his grandchildren Jack, Shay, Leo and PJ against Portumna in the county hurling championship in Gort last Saturday.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Why is it that a majority of hurling counties regularly shun homegrown local managerial talent in favour of high-profile outsiders? Sure, such a scenario remains an anathema to the traditional powers of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary, but most of the rest regularly have their heads turned by non-natives.

The reality is that no county in nearly 25 years has lifted the McCarthy Cup with someone from beyond their borders in charge. Of course, Offaly are the one team which has benefited from having an outside influence, with Diarmuid Healy, Eamon Cregan and Galway’s own Michael Bond between them leading the Midlanders to All-Ireland glory on four different occasions.

But still the fad persists. Look at what’s ahead of us in 2023. A Galway man (Micheál Donoghue) taking over Dublin; another Galway man (Johnny Kelly) about to be installed as Offaly boss; a Tipperary man (Darragh Egan) in charge of Wexford; another Tipperary man (Darren Gleeson) still occupying the Antrim role; a Clare man (Davy Fitzgerald) back with Waterford, and the prospect of a Waterford man (Derek McGrath) filling the vacancy in Laois.

It has caught most Galway hurling observers by surprise that Donoghue is throwing in his lot with Dublin for a three-year term, especially as it’s only the Autumn of 2019 that he pulled the plug on his management of Galway, citing family reasons and a difficult working relationship with some local GAA officials.

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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