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Inside Track

Landslide wins leave Corofin vulnerable in Connacht final

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Loughrea's Patrick Hoban who was presented with the SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month Award for October 2014 in recognition of his displays for league champions Dundalk.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT might seem a strange observation to make about a team which has won its last three knock-out championship games by landslide margins, but Corofin footballers are heading into really dangerous now. Untested in 2014, the Galway title holders face a major step up in class on Sunday week and, potentially, could be seriously undercooked for that challenge.

Of course, it’s not Corofin’s fault that they’ve been running rings all opponents which have barred their path in the championship so far this year, but the lack of competition in reaching the Connacht Club final leaves them vulnerable in terms of physical and mental preparedness. If ever a team was being set up for a fall, Stephen Rochford’s charges look prime candidates.

Remember Dublin at county level in 2014. Romping home in all of their games in their Leinster campaign before trouncing Monaghan led to widespread assumptions that they were All-Ireland champions in waiting. Going forward, they were nearly untouchable, but they had never been in a battle until that epic semi-final against Donegal. Taken out of their comfort zone and forced on the retreat, the Dubs developed fault lines that few thought existed. They had become so used to outplaying teams that when it came to taken on one which was superbly tactically prepared and in no mood to surrender, they struggled badly to cope.

We can draw the same parallel with Corofin although still have to face their high noon encounter with Ballintubber on Sunday week. Already installed as joint favourites to lift the Tommy Moore Cup next March, their players could be forgiven for thinking that they are on a different level to everyone else. After all, they won the Galway semi-final by 24 points; the county final by 18 points; and the Connacht Club semi-final by a scarcely believable 35 points.

Granted, it shows how ruthless Corofin can be against hapless opponents who are not fit to lace their boots, but those series of mis-matches are hardly doing them any favours ahead of travelling to Castlebar in ten days time to face Cillian O’Connor and the talented Mayo champions. Ballintubber are no novices at this level and will draw great heart from their battling victory over former All-Ireland winners St. Brigid’s last Sunday.

While Corofin were running up a cricket score against Aughawillan in Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballintubber had to roll up their sleeves to eventually get the better of the Roscommon men in their high intensity semi-final. First half goals from Padraig O’Connor and Alan Plunkett helped them to lead by three at the interval, but Brigid’s came storming back and midfielder Karol Mannion’s green flag in the 44th minute edged them in front. However, Ballintubber didn’t flinch and Cillian O’Connor’s rasper to the net ultimately saw them squeeze home after an absorbing contest.

In contrast, Corofin could possibly have sent out their third team and still overcame Aughawillan, who utterly flattered to deceive after a gritty opening which saw them trail by only 0-5 to 0-3 after 15 minutes. From there on, however, it turned into a day of horrors for the Leitrim men. They were eight down at the break before collapsing altogether on the resumption. Corofin simply went to town as they repeatedly punched big holes in the home side’s defence in amassing seven goals, three of when came from county player Michael Lundy.

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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Connacht Tribune

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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