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Inside Track

Portumna not the force of old but can still carry day

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Moycullen Basketball Club Junior Development Programme and season launch. In front are Kayla Cox, Mollie Byrne and Mya Robb with Moycullen players Rory Gibson, Patrick Lyons, Sean Candon, Joseph Tummon, Sean Candon, and James Loughnane. Photo: Ray Ryan/Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The big question ahead of the long-delayed Galway senior hurling final is how much have Portumna left in the tank? Nearly half of their team were involved when the club made that historic championship breakthrough in 2003 and two of them, Ollie Canning and Niall Hayes, have been loyal servants for close on 20 years.

With six county championships and four All-Ireland Club titles amassed in a decade, Portumna have been a dominant force far beyond their county’s borders, although there was a valley period for three seasons after completing a notable three-in-a-row in 2009 when breaking Loughrea’s hearts once again at Pearse Stadium.

A lazy presumption followed that Portumna were gone, but their campaigns in 2010, ’11 and ’12 had been hampered by injuries and suspensions. Against that background, it meant a lot to their camp to regain the Tom Callanan Cup in 2013 and having returned to the top in Galway, the border men used all of their experience to subsequently readily dismiss championship novices, Na Piarsaigh and Mount Leinster Rangers, on their way to another All-Ireland triumph.

Portumna really hit the ground running in their opening defence of the county title in late April with a first-half blitz of Castlegar at Kenny Park, but they haven’t been nearly as formidable since, scraping over Loughrea in the quarter final thanks to two softly conceded goals before having to work hard to fend off a progressive Craughwell outfit without their star player Niall Healy at the penultimate stage of the title race.

That form is some way behind the devastating displays Portumna produced in their heyday, but how could it be any other way? Most of the team won’t see their twenties again; their legs have slowed; and apart from Conor O’Hare and Ronan O’Meara, you couldn’t say any of their younger talent are in anyway exceptional.

But Portumna still know how to win. Gareth Heagney, Eoin Lynch, Kevin Hayes, Niall Hayes, Ollie Canning, Leo Smith, Damien Hayes, Joe Canning and Andy Smith remain terrific competitors, while Martin Dolphin is another big asset at centre back, but they surely appreciate that little will come easy against a Gort outfit who have lived up to the club’s tradition for producing steely, hard-to-beat and uncompromising teams.

Of course, we haven’t seen Portumna for nearly three months in what has become a fiasco of a county championship, but if there is one team which can overcome such a significant handicap and literally bolt from the traps, it is the title holders. You can rest assured they will be primed for Sunday and they will be anxious to go for a quick kill as the longer Gort stay in a game, they more awkward they become.

Champions in 2011, but well beaten by Portumna when they clashed in the 2008 county final, Gort’s progress to Sunday’s decider has been typified by a steady improvement and the return to form of star under-age player Richie Cummins. He is one of a number of survivors from their previous big collision with the champions as Tadhg Linnane, Niall Forde, Paul Killilea, Gerry Quinn, still popping over the frees with great consistency, Sean Forde, Sylvie Og Linnane, Greg Lally and Aidan Harte also have a score to settle with Portumna from six years ago.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Solskjaer’s stock is dipping into the red as United start to stumble again

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Monivea-Abbey Lee Kenny on the attack against Kieran Molloy of Corofin during Sunday's senior football championship tie at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALEX Ferguson’s shadow still hangs over Old Trafford. The uncompromising Glaswegian was always going to be a hard act to follow at Manchester United, but few supporters anticipated that the club would lose its way so much over the intervening eight years.

Ferguson was United manager from 1982 to 2013 and despite the lack of instant success, he would go on to make the Red Devils the most envied club in the world. During that time, he repeatedly built, took apart and rebuilt successful teams. 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Uefa Champion Leagues were the highlights of his long tenure.

When Ferguson finally stood down, he had given his blessing to his anointed successor David Moyes, the long-serving Everton manager who made the team consistently competitive without winning any trophies. With big shoes to fill, Moyes appeared overwhelmed by the pressure and barely lasted ten months at Old Trafford having signed a six-year contract.

The sacking of Moyes – a move some former United players considered premature – has led to a managerial merry go around at the club. One of them, Ryan Giggs, briefly acted in a caretaker capacity until he was replaced by then Dutch manager Louis van Gaal in May of 2014.

His long ball tactic, the failure of some of his expensive signings to make a sustained impact – remember Argentinian Ángel Di María who came with a near £60m price tag – and lack of silverware meant van Gaal was already a dead manager walking before delivering the FA Cup to United in May of 2016. Two days later he was fired.

Egomaniac José Mourinho was next in the Manchester hot seat. One time, it might have been a match made in heaven, but the Portuguese’s tactics had become increasingly conservative and his inclination to put the blame on his players when results weren’t going their way didn’t go down well in the corridors of power.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Walloping in Whistllng Straits leaves Euro captain Harrington in the rough

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Castlegar's Seán Neary eyes up his options against Matthew Keating of Turloughmore during Sunday's Senior A hurling championship tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WELL, that was some anti-climax in Whistling Straits. After all the hype and months of build-up, the delayed 2020 Ryder Cup turned into an embarrassing turkey shoot as the USA inflicted a humiliating record-breaking 19-9 defeat on the out-of-sorts Europeans.

The home triumph was hardly unexpected, but the scale of it was. From the opening foursomes last Friday morning, Padraig Harrington’s team was vainly playing catch up. Only for the exploits of the Spanish armada in Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia over the opening two days, the match could have been over by Sunday’s 12 singles.

As it was, the European goose was already cooked heading into the final day’s play. Trailing by 11-5 and with most of their team even to register a half-point, the omens were not good for a heroic comeback along the lines of what happened in Medinah in 2012. The prospect of winning nine of the 12 singles was just fanciful in any event given the superb form of the Americans.

Though Rory McIlroy, who had a nightmare experience over the opening two days – not even getting to the 16th tee box in any of his three outings – salvaged some pride in winning the top match against Xander Schauffele (3&2), it was soon a sea of red in the other singles which the USA ended up winning 8-4.

True, an American success was overdue – they hadn’t won the Ryder Cup since 2016 and had lost all bar two of the last nine matches – but so many of the Europeans were below par over the three days that it killed any prospect of any late drama or thrills. It was just so one-sided with Dustin Johnson becoming only the third golfer in the history of the Ryder Cup to win all his five matches.

With an average age of only 29 and eight of their team in the World’s top 10, it was set up for the USA to inflict some overdue misery on the Europeans, but few expected that they would be so dominant; so superior. The body language of some of the European players wasn’t good – notably McIlroy’s – and you never got the sense that the holders believed that they could turn it around.

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

Brolly goes too far in his mocking of Mayo after latest final reversal

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Cortoon Shamrocks' David Warde is challenged by Eoin Finnerty of St James’ during Saturday's senior football championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Inside Track with John McIntyre

KICKING a player and his team when they are at their lowest ebb is at its best insensitive and, at its worst, offensive. Sunday independent columnist Joe Brolly has never been a great fan of Mayo footballers or Aidan O’Shea and he again lowered the blade in the wake of the county’s latest All-Ireland final defeat.

We are all guilty of trying to justify our opinions and attitudes, but there is a time and place for everything. Brolly, an All-Ireland medal winner with Derry in 1993, perceives Mayo as serial losers and has never been slow to twist the knife when they continue to come up short on the days it most counts.

Given that the county has lost 11 All-Ireland finals plus two replays since last triumphant in 1951, Brolly has no shortage of hard evidence for backing up his claim that countless Mayo teams didn’t possess a sufficient hard edge to get the job done. The longer the title famine goes on, the more Mayo are open to accusations of lacking the bottle to get over the line.

Brolly’s withering assessment of Mayo’s disappointing loss to Tyrone last Saturday week leaves no one in any doubt about the disdain he holds for them. “Mayo is full of cliques and favourites as culture will not change under Horan who made Tyrone’s job easy.

“Time wasters. A lot of other counties would give their right arms to be here. The people of Mayo put their heart and soul into their team. And this is what they get? A manager on the sideline making choices based on political considerations. A protected captain who does not lead and never will.”

The former Sunday Game pundit didn’t hold back and probably feels his continuous personalised put downs of Mayo are justified given that they have yet to crack the All-Ireland code. Brolly, however, has gone too far this time, overstepping the mark of fair comment.

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.

 

Continue Reading

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