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Inside Track

Revitalised Sarsfields show the importance to tradition

Stephen Glennon

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Sarsfields Niall Morrissey with his parents, Maureen and Noel, who featured on the club's six previous championship winning teams, with the Tom Callanan Cup after their county final victory over Craughwell at Peasrse Stadfium last Sunday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE value of tradition should never be under-estimated in county finals. You couldn’t argue definitively that Sarsfields were significantly the better team at Pearse Stadium last Sunday, but they were certainly the more intuitive and streetwise one in local hurling’s showpiece event.

In the context of virtually coming from nowhere to claim the club’s seventh Galway senior hurling title and fortunate to survive a fraught group campaign, Sarsfields’ greater know-how in this competitive replay may be perceived as surprising, but they are one of these teams which tend to visibly grew in stature when progressing in the title race.

Naturally, for an outfit which had zero familiarity with competing at the business end of the championship, their inexperience showed at times, especially with some wayward shooting in the second half, but the team’s inner-belief never seemed to waver on a day substitutes Sean Kelly and Kevin Cooney, in particular, made telling contributions.

Ultimately, it was Noel Kelly’s injury-time first half goal – the product of a well judged overhead connection to Niall Quinn’s long range free – which proved the critical moment of the match. That score left Sarsfields 2-6 to 0-8 ahead at the break and must have proven a demoralising blow to a Craughwell team which produced an uneven display, characterised by storming into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead, only to then find themselves three behind before rallying to trail by just a point prior to Kelly’s green flag.

As they have been doing all year, however, Craughwell didn’t buckle in terms of spirit or energy and they had managed to reduce an early five point second half deficit to 2-8 to 0-13 by the 47th minute, even if their efforts were aided by some woeful opposition inaccuracy. Stephen Glennon’s charges now had every chance of carrying the day, but Sarsfields held their nerve with late points from Niall Morrissey (free) and Kevin Cooney (two) propelling the New Inn/Bullaun men to a first county title since 1997.

Craughwell might still have pulled off a dramatic victory, but substitute Keelan Cullinane’s handpass to the unmarked Niall Healy was over-hit and Sarsfields managed to scramble the sliotar clear and, in the process, maintain their impressive record of not conceding a goal in the knock-out stages of the championship.

In front of an official attendance of 6,183 – the crowd appeared significantly bigger – this replay was a somewhat more open encounter than the drawn struggle, but it was also less savoury. Referee Shane Hynes was forced to brandish numerous yellow cards over the hour and a couple of them could have been red. There was a nasty melee straight from the throw-in and on several occasions players were sorting each other out in off-the-ball incidents.

Obviously, neither team backed away from the physical exchanges and one player who thrived amidst all the aggression was Sarsfields captain Joseph Cooney, the most influential player on the field, and who produced the individual highlight of Sunday’s replay with a terrific and timely first-half goal after rampaging through the Craughwell cover.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

 

Connacht Tribune

Swashbuckling Connacht need to guard their own posts better

John McIntyre

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Gerry Cloherty, Chairman of the Galway County Board, presents the Cup to Stephen Francis, Captain of the Castlegar team which defeated Ardrahan in the 1969 county hurling final at Pearse Stadium.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE Connacht rugby team has arrived at a crossroads and it remains to be seen what route they will be take in the short to medium term. The western set up has long since moved beyond its Cinderella province image by dint of their own hard work and achievements, but it looks as though the progress has stalled.

Andy Friend may be a more popular and engaging Head Coach than his predecessor Kieran Keane, who was sacked just one year into a three-year contract, but the Australian understandably cut a frustrated figure during the concluding rounds of the PRO14 and after their recent exit to Leicester in the European Challenge Cup.

When it comes to entertainment value and swashbuckling rugby, Connacht are almost head of the queue – I know loads of people in my home county of Tipperary, for instance, who love watching them play – but the reality is they are leaking like a sieve when it comes to defending their own try-line and this weakness is hurting them badly.

Connacht may have finished second in their Conference of this season’s PRO14, but they lost as many games – eight – as they won and that doesn’t say much for the overall competitiveness of the league. Sure, they had a brilliant Jack Carty inspired away win over Leinster during the campaign, but their tendency to concede soft tries is killing them.

In their last three PRO14 outings, they ratted Munster in Thomond Park but fell short by 20-17; conceded a last-gasp winning try to Edinburgh at the Sportsground; and lost a 22-point interval lead against the Scarlets when imploding in the second-half. Though Connacht had already secured their Champions Cup status for next season, this was a bad series of results.

It meant Connacht had to be low on confidence heading into their Challenge Cup knock-out clash with Leicester, especially as the province have lost all bar two of their previous 19 games on English soil. Their hosts held many of their regulars in reserve, but still managed to break through for two tries when they had a player a sin-bin. In professional rugby, that scenario is usually fatal.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Inconsistent Covid restrictions just driving people up the walls

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Lynsey McKey in action against Paula Doran of Bohemians during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

OUR patience with Ireland’s ongoing battle against Covid-19 is running out. We are tired of the constant negative narrative, the scaremongering and regular qualification of any good news. The Government and NPHET continue to kill the morale of their own people with inconsistent coronavirus restrictions.

We can be in the middle of one wave of the virus and the prophets of doom are already warning about the next one. Caution has been taken to extremes and it’s only driving a large proportion of the population up the walls, especially those involved with sport. Some of the restrictions are now doing more harm than good.

The danger of sticking your head above the parapet is that you are immediately accused of not respecting or ignoring a public health emergency; that you are in some way complicit in keeping the virus on these shores longer than necessary; that you are indifferent to the suffering of thousands of families who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

I get that, but I am none of the above. I belong to a large cohort of people who are applying logic and common sense to what is going on. For instance, there is no earthly good reason why golf courses and tennis courts have to remain out of bounds until near the end of the month, or why team sport – at all levels – played outdoors isn’t also back up and running, at least in terms of training.

We are constantly told that being outdoors reduces the risk of virus transmissions significantly; that it is a much safer environment compared to indoor settings. Yet, the Government and NPHET are not helping us practice what they preach. There are thousands of young sports people all over the country who are being driven close to insanity; cooked up with little to do.

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

Boss Kenny can’t buy a break as dream job turns into a nightmare

John McIntyre

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Galway WFC's Therese Kinnevey and Shauna Brennan leading this charge against Cork City WFC during Saturday's National League tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

STEPHEN Kenny looked a tormented soul after the Republic of Ireland’s shock World Cup qualifying loss to the minnows of Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. The Dubliner is only a few months in charge of the team, but everything that could go wrong has gone wrong since he took over from Mick McCarthy.

After the reasonable promise of Ireland’s away defeat to Serbia the previous Wednesday, the visit of Luxembourg to Dublin was understandably tagged as a match Seamus Coleman and company simply had to win and, in the process, finally give some overdue momentum to Kenny’s tenure.

Unfortunately, Ireland just didn’t perform or deliver against the 98th rated team in the world. Instead, the match appeared to be trundling to a nil-all draw conclusion when Luxembourg stunned their hosts with a well-taken 85th winner from Gerson Rodrigues. Suddenly, a bad night had turned into a disastrous one.

With injuries again hitting Kenny’s selection plans – Galway’s Aaron Connolly was among the absentees – there was another youthful appeal to his line up, including a debut for 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who did well in challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, the rest of the team were found wanting.

The reality now is that Ireland’s World Cup ambitions are already over after just two matches, a scenario which has cranked up the pressure on the team’s beleaguered boss. Kenny just can’t buy a break in the job. Between Covid, absentees and injuries, his time at the helm has been spent trying to cobble together teams to represent Ireland. He is constantly dealing with a compromised hand.

In those circumstances, any manager would struggle and though Kenny has a strong winning pedigree in League of Ireland football, this is a different world altogether and already, you get a sense that the vultures are circling, notwithstanding the FAI’s public vote of confidence expressed by Chairperson Ray Barrett in the wake of the Luxembourg defeat.

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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