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Inside Track

Mediator may not be silver bullet to fix Galway crisis

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Galway attacker Jason Flynn shows his disappointment after last month's All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny at Croke Park. An independent mediator has now been brought in to help broker a resolution after the players voted no confidence in Anthony Cunningham continuing as senior team manager.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

GALWAY GAA officials and beleaguered team manager Anthony Cunningham appear to be turning a deaf ear to the demands of the senior hurling squad or else an independent mediator would not have been called in to try and sort out an impasse which is threatening to leave a trail of bitterness in its wake.

Board officers and Cunningham may have heard the players’ statement about their lack of confidence in the Galway hurling management and their desire for new sideline personnel for 2016, but neither party are apparently heeding the message. It’s like as though there’s an expectation that the panel will eventually back down.

On the surface bringing in an outside mediator to help solve the dispute looks a reasonable decision, but only if there is significant common ground between the two parties involved. On all known information, the Galway senior hurling panel remain steadfast in its opposition to Cunningham continuing as team manager and, against that background, this latest turn of events has the potential to only polarise the current stand-off.

GAA officials in the county have already been left in no doubt about the mood of the players, but with County Board Chairman Noel Treacy an influential ally of the team management, the obvious scenario has not unfolded after Cunningham losing the dressing room in the wake of guiding Galway to a second All-Ireland final in four years.

Our sympathy for Cunningham in this respect has already been outlined and it does reflect a harsh judgement on his stewardship by the players, but leaving the sensitivities of the controversy aside and no matter how hard done by the St. Thomas’s clubman feels, what kind of atmosphere will be in the Galway dressing-room in 2016 if some sort of compromise is cobbled together?

The sanctioning of a mediator immediately cranks up the pressure on the players who have been putting on a very united front so far. With Galway involved in an exhibition game in Boston next month and also due to fulfil a fixture in the Railway Cup – it’s hard to credit that there’s another attempt to revive the inter-pro series after the paying public turned its back on the competition at least two decades ago – time isn’t as plentiful to solve the dispute as some would imagine.

It is now clear, however, that the County Board are prepared to stand behind their man and that Cunningham is also sufficiently motivated to fight his corner. Treacy’s role in all of this shouldn’t be underestimated. It was only on his casting vote that the Galway manager survived last year and though no one is suggesting that his relationship by marriage to team coach Eugene Cloonan is shaping his thinking, it hardly allows for a completely objective assessment.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Galway under a little pressure to stop Mayo’s early-season gallop

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Hall of Fame award winner Tommy Joe Gilmore with his daughter Olivia, his son Brian and daughter in-law Karen Monks at the Metronic Galway Sports Stars banquet in the Galway Bay Hotel on Friday night. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

We won’t even have reached the end of January and the paths of Connacht’s great footballing rivals will have already crossed twice, with the prospect of more clashes between Galway and Mayo before the end of the inter-county season in late July.

The early 2023 bragging rights have gone to Mayo manager Kevin McStay after their defeat of the Tribesmen in the semi-final of the FBD League – a competition they went on to win last weekend with a comfortable 0-13 to 0-9 victory over Roscommon in the Connacht Air Dome.

Though both teams were in understandably experimental mode, Mayo managed to secure this pre-season competition for the first time in a decade with late points from Cillian O’Connor and Conor Loftus sealing the deal. In the overall scheme of things, the FBD league doesn’t count for much but delivering some silverware so early into his tenure won’t do McStay’s management any harm.

Naturally, Mayo will be anxious to keep the momentum going in Saturday evening’s televised National League clash at MacHale Park, especially given that they narrowly failed to Galway in last year’s provincial championship. A first-half Johnny Heaney goal and some quality free-taking from Shane Walsh just about saw the Tribesmen through in the face of a late siege by the home team.

Galway boss Padraic Joyce kept a sense of perspective after that early season loss to Mayo a couple of weeks ago, but he was blunt enough in assessing the merits or otherwise of some of the players being trialled. Joyce is experienced in the post now and knows what he is looking for. And having led Galway to league promotion, the Connacht title and the All-Ireland final last year, he has earned that leverage to call it as he sees it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Early reality check might prove a good thing for Galway footballers

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Galway’s Johnny Heaney secures possession against Mayo’s Jack Coyne during Saturday's Connacht FBD League semi-final in Bekan. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IF the Galway footballers and team management needed any reminding that their substantial progress in 2022 offers no guarantees for the season ahead, they would have got in spades in Bekan on Saturday evening. Losing a FBD League semi-final to arch-rivals Mayo is no big deal in itself, but does underline the reality that the Tribesmen can’t take for granted building on last year’s achievements. And that may be no bad thing in the long run.

Naturally, Padraic Joyce would have preferred if Galway had got over the line at the weekend, especially in the context of preventing Mayo building up early season momentum under new manager Kevin McStay. In the end, he was probably grateful his team were only three points adrift after a difficult second quarter.

When Mayo went 2-10 to 0-5 ahead early in the second-half, it appeared Galway might suffer a hiding. Their goals came from Jordan Carr and Paul Towey, with Matthew Ruane and Jordan Flynn dominant around midfield. Mayo were also performing with the greater energy.

Gradually, however, Galway got to the pitch of the battle, thanks in no small way to the telling contribution of substitute Tomo Culhane, a player who didn’t make the match-day squad for last year’s All-Ireland final. The Salthill/Knocknacarra clubman scored 2-2 after coming on to revive the Tribesmen’s challenge

With Matthew Tierney also finding the opposition net, Galway were belatedly building up a head off steam. Mayo, however, just did enough to hold on with Towey, Aiden Orme and Bryan Walsh picking off some invaluable points, although it took Rory Byrne’s late save from Nathan Grainger to keep their noses in front.

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 hurlers and footballers get the handy stuff out of the way first

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Maigh Cuilinn's Owen Gallagher is challenged by Conor Glass of Glen during Sunday's All-Ireland Club Senior Football semi-final at Croke Park. Photo: Daire Brennan/ Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Well, that was the expected seamless start to the new GAA season for the Galway footballers and hurlers in their weekend tournament fixtures. Neither team endured too much hardship in assembling big winning margins over Leitrim and Westmeath respectively.

Padraic Joyce’s footballers were first into action in Bekan last Friday evening. Though they were only facing a Division Four outfit, the Tribesmen fielded a strong enough team, including recalled trio John Maher, Barry McHugh and Ian Burke. As expected, the result was never in doubt as Galway sauntered to a 3-21 to 1-13 win.

Their star man was Rob Finnerty, who finished the game with 2-7, including a haul of 1-4 from play. Ian Burke was also impressive on his return to the inter-county scene, with both Seán Fitzgerald and Billy Mannion putting in big shifts at the heart of the Galway defence. They will face a big rise in tempo and class in Saturday’s semi-final against Mayo at the same venue.

It’s been a challenging start for new Mayo boss Kevin McStay. Losing Oisín Mullin to Australian Rules was bad enough, but the news this week that Lee Keegan – surely the greatest footballer never to have won an All-Ireland senior medal – is hanging up the inter-county boots is an incalculable blow to Mayo’s prospects for the year ahead.

The 33-year-old has given his heart and soul to the county’s cause over a decade of sterling service. Keegan always kept coming back for more despite suffering the kind of big-day agony which would have broken most players. The former Footballer of the Year won five All-Stars awards and seven Connacht championships, but his team simply couldn’t get over the line in All-Ireland finals.

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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