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Inside Track

Kilkenny will still be up for it despite absent Cody

John McIntyre

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 THEY will be a strange sight in Thurles on Sunday – a Kilkenny hurling team without their long serving manager Brian Cody patrolling the sideline. But don’t assume for one minute that it will make Galway’s task any easier in the second of the National League semi-finals. In fact, the Cats will probably have an extra cause to carry the day as their team boss recovers from recent cardiac treatment.

Cody has been the off-field inspiration behind Kilkenny’s unprecedented modern-day dominance of hurling. Winning nine All-Ireland titles over 13 years, the reigning title holders have been a cut above the chasing pack during that period. Their overall quality, team-work, intensity and savage hunger has combined to make them virtually unbeatable – and they still want more.

But without Cody’s tactical acumen, ruthlessness and imposing personality, it’s doubtful if Kilkenny would have even snared half the silverware they have accumulated since the James Stephens clubman took over in 1999. He has been the driving force behind their continued dominance; demanding standards never slipped; and adopting a zero tolerance approach to players who have got too big for their boots. Egos and Cody have always been uncomfortable bedfellows.

It’s reported that even some of Kilkenny’s most seasoned and decorated performers are still ‘half- afraid’ of their manager, but whatever the dynamic between Cody and his squad, the mutual respect is obvious. He rarely gets it wrong on the line either, with his calling up of Walter Walsh, a player who hadn’t one minute of senior championship hurling behind him, proving a masterstroke in last year’s All-Ireland final replay against Galway.

It takes balls to place such thrust in an unproven 21-year-old for such a high stakes match, but Cody has always had the courage of his convictions and his judgement is regularly vindicated. Having seen him up close and personally on the sideline when his team might be in some trouble, the Kilkenny boss can be cranky and verbally hard on his players. He knows what they are capable of and hates to see individuals not realising their potential on a day to day basis. He also despises losing.

Against that background, you’d might expect that Kilkenny might be somewhat vulnerable on Sunday without their commander-in-chief, but their will want to honour their absent manager with a display laced with typical power and commitment. Deep down, the likes of Jackie Tyrell, JJ Delaney, Tommy Walsh, Eoin Larkin and Aidan Fogarty know they wouldn’t have won so much only for Cody being in their corner. They will be desperately keen to repay him in some way for the years of loyalty and slavish devotion against Galway.

Furthermore, Kilkenny have a score to settle with the Tribesmen since the opening round of the league. On the day, they were arguably the better team but three goals from Davy Glennon, Niall Healy and Damien Hayes saw the home team get the verdict on a 3-11 to 0-17 scoreline. When the Cats also lost their second outing to Tipperary, it even sparked some loose talk about relegation but, unsurprisingly, they regrouped with hard earned wins over Waterford, Clare and Cork respectively in defence of their league crown.

This will be the counties’ seventh meeting (including last year’s Walsh Cup) in around 15 months and Kilkenny hold a 3-2 edge, with one draw. That level of familiarity should ensure no shortage of spice between the teams in Semple Stadium, but Galway’s need for victory is surely greater given that they need every competitive match they can get considering their free passport into the Leinster final in early July.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway square up to Limerick a little earlier than we anticipated

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Padraic Mannion breaking away from Tipperary’s Paul Flynn during Saturday's All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

After the initial skirmishes in the hurling championship, the widespread perception was that Limerick and Galway were the two best teams out there, leading to an anticipation that next month’s final would end being a repeat pairing of the 2018 decider.

Of course, that assumption was premised on both teams staying winning, but after Galway were caught napping by Kilkenny in the Leinster Final all bets were off. Now as it transpires Galway and Limerick will be meeting after all except it will be earlier than expected – a semi-final instead of a final.

From the outset, Galway have been burdened with the mantle of being the only team which has the capacity to stand up to Limerick physically. It’s a fair assessment when you shift through the imposing figures on the Tribesmen team, notably Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Fintan Burke, Gearóid McInerney, Joe Canning and Conor Cooney.

They have several other six footers plus as well and given the vast experience in their ranks, it’s probably accurate to suggest that if Galway can’t stop Limerick no team can. But how good are Limerick? I for one don’t think they are quite as formidable as some commentators would have us believe.

If we go back to the 2018 final, remember Galway had come into that game possibly fatigued after being taken to replays by both Kilkenny and Clare. They conceded three goals from turnovers; were eight points down after 68 minutes, and were still only beaten by a point as the Shannonsiders staggered over the line.

Furthermore, they were taken out in last year’s semi-final by an average Kilkenny team – granted their average is higher than everybody else’s – which ended up losing the final by 14 points to Tipperary. More recently, they had a lot of troubled passages in their Munster Final triumph over Waterford.

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

Missing out on the opportunities that lay ahead will haunt Galway

John McIntyre

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Galway football manager Padraic Joyce digests their Connacht final defeat to Mayo at Pearse Stadium on Sunday with members of his backroom team, Cian Breathnach and Michael Comer. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

NOBODY needed to tell Padraic Joyce the consequences of their narrow defeat to Mayo at a near-deserted Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Losing Connacht’s showpiece match was bad enough, but the real pain was realising that the Tribesmen’s enticing pathway to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 19 years had been completely closed off.

With an All-Ireland semi-final date against either Cork or Tipperary the reward for the winners of the Connacht title, there was a lot more at stake in Salthill than provincial glory. Had Galway got the better of Mayo, they would have fancied their chances against either of those opponents. Suddenly, they would be preparing for an All-Ireland final.

And Galway are one of those teams whose tradition suggests that they would be capable of anything in that environment. Sadly, they are now denied that prospect after a muddling performance against their arch Western foes. Yes, Mayo were the better team and spurned two goal chances, but it was still a match the home team could have won.

Though some of the officiating didn’t do the hosts any favour, it was Galway’s carelessness in possession which must really haunt them. Some of their players were turned over too easily, while their decision making going forward in the opening quarter also left a lot to be desired. Nobody could question the team’s spirit or desire, but they needed to mind ball much better.

Given their injury woes, together with no competitive championship prep for the final and the recent trauma of that league trouncing by Mayo, the hosts’ preparations were far from ideal but Joyce wasn’t inclined to go down the excuses road. He was understandably more frustrated with Galway’s own inadequacies and mistakes, along with the team’s modest scoring haul of 13 points.

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

Galway hurlers must be careful but footballers have to go for it

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Rebecca Hennelly in the swing against Cork’s Laura Treacy during the All-Ireland senior camogie championship clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BASING a team’s worth and probable fortunes on one match alone has led many astray – look at the transformation in Cork hurlers in the space of a week – which means there has to be a certain amount of caution in assessing Galway’s chances against Kilkenny in Saturday evening’s provincial decider at Croke Park.

In contrast to the Rebels, the Tribesmen really hit the ground running in their opening championship outing by dismantling Wexford in a one-sided Leinster semi-final. On the evening, Galway were a revelation in sauntering to a 13-point victory. Getting their match-ups right and performing with admirable purpose, Shane O’Neill’s squad looked close to their All-Ireland winning form of 2017.

But are Galway that good? We will certainly know a lot more after their latest tussle with the Cats who are bound to provide a far more searching test than Wexford despite their staggering second-half collapse against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. Losing a 16-point lead is unheard off in the Brian Cody era and their defence struggled badly when ran at.

Kilkenny’s second-half woes, however, guarantee that they will be really up for the Galway match. Can you imagine the grief Cody has given the players in the interim? Remember too, when Kilkenny have a cause – like in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick – they bring an extra manic desire to the battleground. Galway need to be braced for that.

Yet, they remain hugely dependent on the inspirational TJ Reid to weave his magic up front, but he’s not getting any younger and one wonders will Galway hand the versatile Joseph Cooney the brief of not letting the Ballyhale clubman out of his sights. Obviously, Colin Fennelly is a danger too with his direct style of running, while the Tribesmen won’t need any reminding of the damage Walter Walsh can cause if on a going day.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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