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Inside Track

Mediator may not be silver bullet to fix Galway crisis

John McIntyre

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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

Clampdown on cynical fouls can lead to increase in hurling goals

John McIntyre

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FLASHBACK: Corofin captain Clive Clancy, who was ruled out of the final due to injury, and Ollie Burke, who won the Man of the Match award, pictured with match sponsor Tommy Varden, after their 1991 county senior football final replay win over Salthill. Photo:Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

CAN we look forward to it raining goals in hurling matches from now onwards? Well, the basic hope is that spectators will see more green flags being raised in future after the weekend GAA Congress clamped down on cynical play in no uncertain manner.

Despite a belated intervention by the GPA (Gaelic Players Association), delegates voted in favour for the introduction of a black card and the awarding of a penalty for cynical fouls occurring inside the 20-metre line and the semi-circular arc. The rule will also apply to Gaelic football.

Through there is already a sin-bin in football, 2021 will be the first time that hurlers run the risk of being sent to the dug-out for a ten-minute period for cynical fouling. It’s a move which had far from unanimously approval as heavyweight hurling counties Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway all railed against the motion at Saturday’s virtual Congress.

There is little protest over the awarding of a penalty for what we could loosely describe as professional fouling when a goal-scoring opportunity is obvious. Remember, in last year’s championship, Kilkenny’s Huw Lawlor holding Niall Burke’s hurley in the Leinster final and Adrian Tuohey’s grounding of Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Both incidents prevented the net from been rattled and, in those circumstances, the previous punishment of a close-range free simply didn’t fit the crime. Now, however, the question is being asked: have the GAA gone too far the other way? Most stakeholders would be content with the awarding of a penalty, but to also have the offending player ending up in the sin-bin for ten minutes is undoubtedly a harsh sanction.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Squeezing of club calendar now certain as GAA fields still empty

John McIntyre

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Gary Burke of Turloughmore secures possession against St Thomas' Fintan Burke during last year's Galway senior hurling final at Kenny Park. Heaven knows when the 2021 championionship will even start.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

When the GAA outlined its fixtures calendar for 2021, it left us looking forward to the start of the National hurling and football leagues at the end of February. Instead, the playing fields remain empty with inter-county training yet to even resume and the GAA season already running behind schedule.

Worse again, there is no certainty about when matches will get the green light as despair and frustration among the GAA community reaches the lowest point since Covid-19 hit these shores last March. It’s not just hurlers and footballers who are feeling the strain as bar professional rugby nearly all sport remains off-limits.

Sure, the League of Ireland will soon be kicking off – and more luck to the teams involved – but everything else with the exception of horse and greyhound racing has been deemed too risky in the interests of public health. Sport has become a soft target as the evidence from last year indicates that the playing of games had little or no impact in the spreading of the virus.

Granted, the post county final celebrations were a different story, but there are many, many months to go before local championships reach a climax in 2021. In the interim, the Government and NPHET need to apply some common sense in adjudicating on releasing the vast majority of sports people from solitary confinement.

The mental anguish alone caused by not being able to link up with your team-mates and play the game you love is incalculable. It’s just compounding the gloom and agitation out there, and I’m not sure the various stakeholders are going to tolerateA it for much longer. Revolution is in the air, especially now that the rollout of vaccines is belatedly being reeved up.

Given the delay to the GAA season, it has reopened the debate about whether inter-county or club championships should go first. The decision had been made to put the elite hurlers and footballers on stage from February to July, with the clubs then swinging into action, but every week that passes is compromising this plan.

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.

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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

GAA left with ground to make up after elite-sport exemption ended

John McIntyre

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FLASHBACK: Yvonne Curtin, Kinvara, Carmel Lane, Ballinderreen, Teresa Curtin, Kinvara and Marguerite Lane, Ardrahan enjoying the Galway hurling dinner in the Radisson SAS Hotel in 2005.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WELL, that was some communications balls-up! Since the turn of the year the GAA has been publicly signposting their plans for the year, but nobody in the Government or NPHET thought it worth their while to set the record straight with the country’s biggest sporting organisation . . . that inter-county matches or even training was no longer exempted from Level 5 Covid restrictions.

My word, it wasn’t as if the GAA was in complete hibernation since Christmas. Announcements had been made – and altered – in relation to the return of inter-county training and a calendar was drawn up for the year with the National Leagues originally scheduled to commence at the end of March.

Furthermore, it was in the public domain that the Tailteann Cup – a separate championship for Division Three and Four football teams – would have its inaugural staging in 2021, while a decision had been taken before Christmas that the inter county programme would be staged before the club championships this year . . . a reversal of what happened in 2020.

All of this attracted various forms of publicity and though the GAA had to push back the start of inter-county training on several occasions due to the big increase in Covid transmissions in late December, all the while nobody in the corridors of power in Croke Park was aware that any of these decisions were not theirs to make.

It beggars belief that the GAA wasn’t brought up to speed about their inter-county activity being no longer classified as an elite sport, with the result that nobody knows this week how the GAA season will evolve or when will it even start. As it stands, training at top flight level has been pushed back to at least April 4, with huge knock-on effects for their fixtures calendar. In reality, until the Government outlines its roadmap for lifting Covid restrictions next week, the GAA will have to twiddle their thumbs in frustration.

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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