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Inside Track

Landslide wins leave Corofin vulnerable in Connacht final

John McIntyre

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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

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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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

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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