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Inside Track

Morale is low but hurlers may not be a busted flush

John McIntyre

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Galway manager Anthony Cunningham whose team made a tame exit from the National Hurling League last Sunday.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S a chilling statistic in some ways . . . of the last 16 All-Ireland senior hurling titles, all bar one were won by three counties. Hurling’s traditional hierarchy of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary have reasserted their dominance after the sport’s revolution in the mid to late Nineties with only Clare’s talented crop of young players breaking this stranglehold in 2013.

In reality, however, even Cork and Tipperary have only been bit-players in the farming out of the Liam McCarthy Cup during this period such has been Kilkenny’s unprecedented superiority in the championship. Ten All-Ireland titles in 16 years under Brian Cody is astonishing and only Lar Corbett’s three-goal blitz in the 2010 final denied the Cats a record-breaking fifth consecutive September triumph.

Sadly, Galway haven’t really measured up over the past two decades. True, there were All-Ireland final appearances in 2001, ’05 and ’12, but the county remains woefully inconsistent and the past two years have been basically a washout with the Tribesmen’s lone championship victories – and both were unexpectedly hard earned – coming against minnows Laois.

That level of form after Galway’s blitzing of Kilkenny in the 2012 Leinster final and coming so close to toppling the Noresiders in that year’s drawn All-Ireland decider is both disappointing and frustrating. The assumption was that they would drive on over the following seasons but, instead, the men in maroon have fallen into a big hole leaving morale around the county arguably at a modern-day low.

That scenario is not just down to the sub-standard displays on the field over the past two summers. Supporters have also become disenfranchised by the unwieldy system in which the county championship is run, while the staging of last year’s final between Gort and Portumna just 13 days before Christmas has also fuelled discontent among the Galway grassroots. The reported disconnect between the County Board and the Hurling Committee only adds to the sense of local unease.

The process which ultimately led to the re-appointment of Anthony Cunningham as team boss was unsatisfactory too. I can’t imagine any other county tolerating a scenario where an outgoing manager, having expressed a desire to stay in the role, would be opposed by his former coach (Mattie Kenny) and the current county U-21 supremo (Johnny Kelly). It reflects an absence of joined-up thinking and smacks of the ‘every man for himself ’ syndrome.

I am already on record as saying that Cunningham was entitled to one last shot on the Galway sideline. Remember, he had two new selectors last year in Eugene Cloonan and Damien Curley who had no experience of that environment previously and they are both bound to be more influential in 2015. Furthermore, the addition of eighties midfielder Pat Malone to the set up is a positive move as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Almost impossible to see Corofin being stopped after latest saunter

John McIntyre

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St James’ Jack Forde comes under pressure from Mark Lydon of Moycullen during Sunday's senior football championship quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE Galway senior football championship trundles along to its inevitable conclusion. Sure, there have been quality matches, high drama and a number of upsets over the past few weeks, but Corofin’s shadow still hangs over the title race. Just two matches away from a record-breaking eighth consecutive county senior crown, Kevin O’Brien’s charges continue to set an awesome standard and it is a tribute to Corofin that despite all that they have won, the squad’s hunger and ambition levels haven’t been diluted one iota.

Granted, they were taken to replays by both Mountbellew/Moylough and Tuam Stars in their last two championship campaigns, but Corofin always find a way to survive and when in full flow, there has been no finer sight in club football anywhere in the country. Three All-Ireland titles on the trot confirm that.

Due to the impact on sport caused by Covid-19, Corofin unfortunately will be denied the opportunity of capturing a fourth consecutive Tommy Moore Cup next January, but don’t expect that scenario to disarm them as they attempt to go where no other Galway club team has gone before in the 136-year history of the GAA.

At the start of this season’s much-delayed championship, Sathill/Knocknacarra would have been touted as one of the mean’s threats to Corofin’s title monopoly. With plenty of rising young talent in their ranks, the city outfit looked like a squad with potential, but Salthill only staggered out of their group after suffering a shock loss to Bearna.

Missing a couple of key players was no help to their cause either as they squared up to Corofin in last Saturday’s quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Admittedly, Salthill/Knocknacarra only trailed by a point at half time but, in reality, their cause was already lost having had the backing of a strong wind.

And that’s how the second-half evolved. Corofin went to a different level in powering away to a 1-18 to 0-9 victory, with dual player Daithí Burke firing home their goal late in the game. The champions are now preparing for a 13th consecutive county semi-final in a row – how’s that for consistency?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Strange times but cream still rises to the top in local hurling title race

John McIntyre

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Turloughmore 's Kevin Hussey is about to clear his lines against Ian Fox of Sarsfields during Saturday's senior hurling quarter-final at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The running of the 2020 Galway senior hurling championship may have been turned upside down in more ways than one by Covid-19, but three of last year’s semi-finalists have fought their way back to the final four after the weekend’s latest round of knock-out games.

It just shows that regardless of what system a championship is based upon or its time frame, the top teams still generally come to the fore. That’s how it has largely worked out in Galway again this year even if Liam Mellows – finalists for the past three seasons – were the big casualty of the quarter-finals.

Out for the third weekend on the trot, the city outfit were below par in their surprising weekend loss to a rejuvenated Loughrea. With former Mellows player and current Galway U20 manager Geoffrey Lynskey in the opposition backroom, this fixture should have carried a real edge to it, but the reality turned out much different.

Even without suspended star player Jamie Ryan, Loughrea emerged comfortable 0-22 to 1-13 winners with the likes of Neil Keary and Martin McManus making their presence felt. It’s quite a sudden upswing in fortunes for a side which bowed out tamely in last year’s championship to Cappataggle and lost their opening round group tie to Tommy Larkins a few weeks back.

Loughrea are the only club left which didn’t feature in the 2019 semi-finals and their opponents will be a Turloughmore outfit which is starting to walk the walk, in terms of justifying their lofty reputation. Mind you, conceding 2-19 to Sarsfields at Kenny Park shows that their defence still isn’t bombproof. At the other end of the field, however, there was no shortage of firepower as Seán Linnane and Seán Loftus did most of the scoring damage.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Inconsistent restrictions to tackle Covid-19 are driving people mad

John McIntyre

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Brian Harlowe of St Michael’s eyes up his options against Barna's Jack Keady during the clubs' championship clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

You couldn’t make it up if you tried. Thousands of supporters attending junior and under-age GAA games up and down the country, but nobody allowed in to see senior club hurling and football matches  . . . the high-profile fixtures.  It’s a blatant anomaly which defies logic. In a nutshell, the message is: there’s no risk of picking up Covid-19 at a juvenile or junior game, but there’s every danger of falling victim to the pandemic at a senior club championship encounter.

Of course, when NPHET and the government ruled that sporting events must be held behind closed doors, they weren’t anticipating that junior and underage-games would carry on as normal in terms of supporters turning up. The vast majority of these matches are held at open rural venues where the host club has little interest or motivation in turning people away.

The reality is that most of these GAA grounds are easy to access and frustrated fans are turning up in their droves. Contrast that with what’s happening with senior club matches. They are being held at secure inter-county venues which are nearly impossible to gain ‘illegal’ entry to.

You’d imagine that there should be someone sitting around the Cabinet table who can flag this ridiculous inconsistency. And then have the wit to question stopping fans getting into the big games while crowds are flocking to lower-scale matches. How can it be alright to get into one and not the other?

According to the GAA itself there hasn’t been a single recorded outbreak of the coronavirus associated with the staging of any match. The Association has rigorously complied with NPHET’s restrictions and has even taking it on itself to keep dressing-rooms closed. And what thanks do we get?  . . . nothing, just the continued and unnecessary shattering of people’s spirits.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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