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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

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.

 

Continue Reading

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