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Inside Track

Magnificent Corofin are in a league of their own

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Man of the Match Michael Lundy and team manager Stephen Rochford celebrate Corofin winning the All-Ireland Club football title at Croke Park on Tuesday.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE opening ten minutes of Tuesday’s All-Ireland Club football final at Croke Park led us astray. It was the pioneering Slaughneil men who had settled the quicker, led by two points to one – including a majestic score from centre back Christy McKaigue after a lung-bursting run – and were also unlucky not to find the net when Paul Bradley took too long to pull the trigger.

Hot favourites Corofin looked a little rattled and were turning over possession too often for comfort in those opening salvos. It had all the hallmarks of a contest which would go down to the wire, but by the 23rd minute the Galway champions had reminded everyone why no team has been able to lay a glove on them in their current all-conquering campaign.

An unanswered 1-5, with Man of the Match Michael Lundy spearheading their attacking artillery, quickly opened daylight on their Derry rivals. By the end, they had ten points to spare but it could have been more, notwithstanding the fact that Slaughneil spurned an injury-time penalty which can only have been awarded in an act of charity as I could see no foul whatsoever on Cormac Doherty.

After that uncertain start, Corofin were a joy to behold. Their work ethic, support play, pace and class was again exceptional at this level and they are surely one of the greatest club football teams to have ever graced Croke Park, with the obvious potential to rewrite the record books in the years ahead. Certainly, all their rivals at local level must be despairing of even getting close to them in 2015.

The quality of Corofin’s support play was a lesson in selfless running and many county teams would have struggled to live with them on Tuesday. The final was done and dusted at the break as they had established a 1-8 to 0-3 advantage, with Lundy, Gary Sice and Ian Burke proving too elusive for a battling Slaughneil outfit whose credentials had been underlined in successfully negotiating a demanding route to Croke Park.

The decisive moment of the final came in the 15th minute when Sice superbly fielded an unintended aerial bomb from Gary Delaney before presenting Martin Farragher with the relatively routine opportunity of finding the net with a low finish to the corner. Corofin’s overall pace and commitment also ensured they were now winning most of the breaks and, essentially, the second-half was all about holding on to what they had.

Under the widely acclaimed management of Stephen Rochford, the Corofin squad’s single-mindedness and almost self-policing of their own standards has served them well over the past 15 months. They are driven men and, all over the field against Slaughneil, they eventually had too much of everything for an opposition who deserve respect for their breakthrough triumphs in Derry and Ulster last year.

You’d struggle to find a weak link on the Corofin team. Kieran Fitzgerald, Ciaran McGrath, the Silkes’, the Burkes’, Ronan Steede, Lundy, who should probably be sprinting for Ireland, the Farraghers’, Delaney, Sice, Greg Higgins and Tom Healy are now in a league of their own not just in Galway but in Ireland. And one suspects Corofin will probably be exactly in the same position in 12 months time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

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

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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

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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.

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

Galway’s positive response to their Tralee trauma continues

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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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