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Inside Track

Mullins in league of his own but it’s not good for racing

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Mark Lane, Acorn Life, Davy Glennon, Galway senior hurler, Tony Rafferty, Area Manager Acorn Life, and Anthony Cunningham, Galway senior manager pictured at the launch of who wants to be Five Thousandaire Galway Hurling fundraiser eventwhich will be he3ld on May 21.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE whispers at the recent Punchestown National Hunt festival were more about the negative impact of Willie Mullins’ continued domination of the sport rather than tips about ‘good things’ which had been laid out for the County Kildare track’s end-of-season five-day festival.

For several years now, Mullins has commanded the Punchestown meeting in a manner that initially drew understandable gasps of admiration from the horse racing fraternity, but the mood is gradually changing as small trainers and small owners continue to be squeezed out of the winners’ enclosure.

Mullins stranglehold of Punchestown’s flagship fixture is only mirroring his wider monopoly of the National Hunt sphere in Ireland – the Co. Carlow based handler has just been crowned champion trainer for the ninth time as his battalion of runners amassed a staggering total of over €4m in prizemoney this season. If anything, his control of the sport is reaching new (and unhealthy) levels of supremacy.

Apart from creating a new world record in saddling 30 Grade One winners (between Ireland and cross channel) last season, Mullins and his merry band of super-rich owners, such as Rich Richi, Graham Wylie and Gigginstown Stud, have access to the most expensive and well bred young thoroughbred stock, leaving it something of an uneven playing field around the tracks of this country.

Sure, the yards of Gordon Elliott, Noel Meade, Jessica Harrington, Henry de Bromhead and Tony Martin are holding their own, but most of their counterparts are struggling to make ends meet as the odds continue to stack up against them. They have to concentrate on modest fare at country tracks to try and eke out a living, but even these meetings are no longer sacred as Mullins has so many horses, he has to run them somewhere.

Take a typical maiden hurdle. A syndicate could have come together to buy a horse with decent breeding for maybe €30,000 but could end up finding their charge running against a couple of rivals which were purchased for well in excess of €100,000. What chance have they of competing successfully in such an environment?

Now don’t get me wrong. Mullins is a brilliant trainer and he has built up the business from scratch. Furthermore, his ability to extend the careers of his top horses – take Hurricane Fly for instance – is arguably without parallel and he clearly has an eye for a young horse with potential, but some racing fans are now getting a little fed up of him (and Ruby Walsh) plundering big race after big race.

There were 12 Grade Ones at the Punchestown festival, but apart from Jezki (Ladbrokes’s Series Hurdle) and Don Cossack (Gold Cup), Mullins landed the other ten. In total, he saddled 16 winners from 38 races at the meeting which works out at a 43% success ratio. He also had eight second and six third place finishers. Of course, that’s a remarkable achievement and deserves to be commended, but this level of superiority is killing the ‘small man’ operation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Lyng taking over from Cody leads to an outbreak of relief in Galway

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Galway's Ciara Donohue breaking out of defence against Lauren Homan of Cork during Sunday's All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was surely a collective sigh of relief in Galway’s hurling strongholds when former midfielder Derek Lyng was appointed to succeed Brian Cody as the new Kilkenny manager last week – the first time since the winter of 1998 that a new senior supremo has been unveiled down Noreside way.

After Cody somewhat surprisingly ended his long tenure as Kilkenny manager in the wake of last month’s battling All-Ireland Final defeat to Limerick, it was only natural that current Galway team manager Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny’s most decorated player of all-time, would be linked with the vacancy.

“Don’t do it Henry” was a common refrain on social media as Galway supporters understandably feared the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman would find the prospect of talking over his native county impossible to resist. Lyng, Martin Fogarty and ex-Laois boss Eddie Brennan were also touted as being in the running.

A similar precedent had been set this summer when Liam Cahill abruptly departed Waterford to return to Tipperary after the local County Board hardly covered itself in glory in the manner it ended the tenure of former player Colm Bonnar after just one year in charge. Admittedly, it had been a tough championship for Tipperary, losing all four games in Munster, but there were extenuating circumstances.

For starters, Brendan Maher and Padraic Maher retired – the latter was forced to hang up the boots due to a neck injury – while other heroes of past All-Ireland triumphs, Bubbles O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan, were also notable absentees. It meant Bonnar took over a Tipperary team in transition.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Lots of positivity around but Galway will now have target on their backs

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Owner Annette Mee with Monday’s Galway Festival bumper winner,This Songisforyou. Also included are Emmet Mullins, trainer, Laura Keir, and jockey Derek O'Connor. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALL around Ballybrit last week, the post All-Ireland football final verdict was virtually unanimous: Galway were unlucky against Kerry but had done the county proud. Naturally, the big focus was on the harsh free awarded against John Daly as he attempted to break out of defence late in the match.

Of all the varying opinions on the controversy doing the rounds at the races and in the media at large, former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness probably put it the most succinctly of all in Saturday’s edition of the Irish Times. He said anyone just focusing on the first part of the incident would award a free out to Daly, but those only seeing Killian Spillane’s arm being pulled in by the Galway number six would have sided with referee Seán Hurson’s call.

And that’s in a nutshell. The first foul was committed on Daly and that should have led to a crucial free out for Galway just seconds after Damien Comer had forced a terrific turnover. In that moment, however, Kerry got a break they weren’t entitled to, and the Munster champions weren’t slow in taking advantage.

Galway were that close to ending 21-years in the All-Ireland wastelands, but Padraic Joyce and his players don’t need any reminding that it’s a long way back to next year’s final. Sure, they have made huge progress over the past few months and their camp will now be stacked with belief, but there are no guarantees that they will enjoy another protracted run in 2023.

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

Nothing certain in 2023 but at least Galway won’t start from base camp

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Galway manager Pádraic Joyce and defender Kieran Molloy look on during the presentation of the Sam Maguire Cup to Kerry after Sunday's All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE sense of anti-climax will be overwhelming for everybody associated with the Galway footballers this week. Homecomings are an understandable necessity of the All-Ireland final experience, but they can be a testing environment for deflated players and management. Within hours you’re going from great expectations to utter despair.

The fact that Galway could have ended a 21-year All-Ireland drought will only compound the disappointment, and though the Tribesmen have laid a great foundation for the seasons ahead, there is absolutely no guarantee that this group will even get back to Croke Park on finals day again.

First of all, Galway’s cover is well and truly blown which means the accompany rise in expectations is something of a double-edged sword. There will be extra pressure as well compared to 2021 when there was a ‘bonus feel’ to the team’s major progress in the championship. They kind of came in under the radar, but won’t have that luxury next year.

The other big issue is outside their control. Now that Kerry are finally back on top of the football tree and the accompanying weight lifted off their shoulders after an eight-year wait, it’s probable that the new champions will be even better in the foreseeable future. You couldn’t say that they were lucky to win on Sunday, but you’d know from their early profligacy especially that these Kerry players were feeling the pressure.

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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