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Inside Track

Portumna let All-Ireland Club champions off the hook

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Inside Track with John McIntyre

SINCE the club’s last of five senior hurling title triumphs in 2009, Portumna could be forgiven for thinking that fate is conspiring against them in their efforts to chalk up the half-dozen of championship successes.

A combination of injuries, suspensions and some bad luck has thwarted their efforts to even reach another county final in the interim, but they still appeared the team to beat in 2013.

A first round group win over reigning All-Ireland champions St. Thomas’ certainly laid down a marker for the rest of the campaign, but Portumna are no longer bullet proof like they were when in their prime. They subsequently carelessly lost to Clarinbridge and also flirted with a shock defeat to an admittedly much-improved Ardrahan outfit in the recent quarter-final.

Advancing years is clearly catching up on some of Portumna’s great servants, but there remains an aura about them and the vast majority of other clubs around the county would still be less intimidated at the prospect of facing St. Thomas’ than Ollie Canning and company. Their movement and link up play can still be exceptional, but the team’s defence lacks the overall security of a few years ago even if the Portumna forwards remain nearly as menacing as ever.

Portumna were the better team in the second of last Sunday’s county semi-finals and when Andy Smith sent over a glorious effort from the left wing to put them six clear in the final quarter at Kenny Park, they looked to have the hard work done. Joe Canning had started to cut loose around midfield and it was difficult to see how an injury-hit St. Thomas’ were going to salvage a result, even if young Eanna Burke’s probings were just about keeping them in the hunt.

In the end, an opportunist flicked goal from substitute Richie Murray and an injury time pointed free from the impressive Conor Cooney somehow got the champions out of jail, but even neutrals felt that Portumna were hard done by as referee Alan Kelly controversially penalised Gareth Heagney for overcarrying in the dying embers of a struggle which rarely produced the fire and brimstone exchanges many had anticipated.

From my vantage point on the terrace directly across from the incident, it was impossible to justify Kelly’s harsh call while his failure to award Damien Hayes and Ollie Canning second-half frees when they appeared illegally challenged were also bones of contention, but St. Thomas’ will have their own gripes as well with Anthony Kelly arguably unfairly pulled up for holding onto the ball in the opening half . . . it’s just that Portumna were more sinned against in this regard.

For all that, Kelly awarded the challengers ten scoreable frees, eight of which were converted by Canning, and Portumna can’t ignore the fact either that they failed to close out a game in which they were in control of heading down the home stretch. And substantial credit must also go to St. Thomas’ for battling to a replay when their cause seemed lost. They didn’t panic and though most of the swashbuckling hurling came from their rivals, Eanna Burke and Cooney still managed to pick off some quality points when most needed.

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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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.

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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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