Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Inside Track

Rout of U-21s makes bad summer even worse for Galway

John McIntyre

Published

on

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was an air of weary resignation among the handful of Galway supporters departing Thurles last Saturday evening. They had headed to Semple Stadium far more in hope than confidence about the county U-21 hurlers’ prospects of dethroning All-Ireland champions Clare in the first place, but still wouldn’t have imagined that their team could be made appear so ordinary and so second class.

It proved a humbling experience, especially as there was no shortage of senior club experience on the Galway team. Commitment wasn’t the issue; it was just that the challengers didn’t possess the quality or skill to halt Clare’s burgeoning progress this summer. Coming in cold wouldn’t have helped them either but they can have no complaints about a 12-point defeat.

The previous month at the same venue, the county’s seniors had also come up well short against the Banner, further underpinning the reality that Clare hurling in general is now in a far better place compared to Galway. Apart from possessing obviously more technically gifted individuals, it’s also clear that the expertise behind Clare’s conditioning and coaching is in a different league too.

Few would have imagined this scenario approaching half-time in last year’s drawn All-Ireland senior final when Galway were seven points clear and threatening to repeat their barnstorming provincial triumph over Kilkenny. Sadly, it’s been basically downhill ever since and the convincing weekend dismantling of the county U-21s is only adding to the existing widespread sense of gloom.

In the space of a few months, Galway have lost their way completely. Two of the U-21s, Jonathan Glynn and Conor Cooney, were in action against Clare on both days, but were unable to really step out from the crowd. Contrast their influence with Clare players of a similar age profile like David McInerney, Tony Kelly, Colm Galvin and Podge Collins and you immediately see that they have emerged as leaders and game breakers much more quickly.

Frankly, these are worrying times for Galway hurling. About six of the team which featured in the senior quarter-final against Clare are past their prime; there remains an unhealthy dependence on Joe Canning up front; most of the central positions have no stability; and the jury is out about some of the squad’s younger brigade. The euphoria in Croke Park last July 12 months has long since dissipated.

U-21 manager Johnny Kelly defended his corner to the media after the heavy loss to Clare at the weekend. They would all have worked their socks off over the past few months and team coach Dinny Cahill is the ultimate sideline warrior, but could their toil have been more judiciously employed. In any event, Galway weren’t nearly good enough although the vast majority of the team are under-age again in 2014.

With Mattie Kenny having already stood down as senior coach and team boss Cunningham under pressure to hold onto his post, there is a lot of uncertainty out there at present. Cahill, Kelly, Tony Keady, the third member of the U-21 management, Kenny, Cunningham and Tom Helebert have all invested a big personal effort during the year and while there is always sniping when a team falls, managements are too often the fall guys in this county.

There is a talent deficit at present as underlined by those recent results, but are Galway as professional as they need to be? Is there enough finance being made available for team preparation? When you look at the numerical strength of their backroom teams and the scope of the resources at the disposal of Clare and Dublin hurlers, for instance, the answer is a resounding no.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Canning’s harsh sending off pulls the plug on Portumna’s challenge

John McIntyre

Published

on

David Hickey of Tommy Larkins battling for possession with Loughrea's Conor Jennings during Friday evening's senior hurling championship tie at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE’S no prize for guessing what was the biggest talking point from the opening round of the Galway senior hurling championship last weekend – the dismissal of the Cannings, Joe and his nephew Jack, for Portumna against Sarsfields at Kenny Park.

A red card for such a high-profile player nearly always generates widespread publicity, but with the match also having a deferred showing on TG4, hardly anyone with GAA marrow in their bones would have been unaware of Portumna’s strife on Sunday evening.

The outcome was still in the melting pot with about ten minutes remaining. Sarsfields were protecting a three-point lead, but were by no means out the gap against a new-look Portumna outfit. Sure, Canning, his brother Ivan, Andy Smith, Ronan O’Meara and Martin Dolphin were still around, but a lot of their team-mates were novices at this level.

Still, Portumna were hanging in there with O’Meara having set the tempo for them with a string of quality efforts from play early in the game. Sarsfields were struggling to shrug off Portumna despite Kevin Cooney and Jeffrey Lawless doing most of the scoring damage.

But this senior A group battle was completely turned on its head in little more than 60 seconds. Firstly, Joe Canning got his marching orders after a tussle with former inter-county colleague Kevin Hynes, while Jack also suffered the same fate after interfering with Ian Skehill’s helmet.

Even Portumna people are prepared to accept that Jack Canning gave referee Shane Hynes little option, but there is understandable anger in the camp over Joe being banished to the sideline. TV evidence shows Hynes’ helmet coming off as he exchanged pleasantries with Canning on the ground, but it appeared accidental.

Canning was leaning on Hynes when the helmet was displaced, but he didn’t interfere with it. In the circumstances, he shouldn’t have got the line but you would still have some sympathy for referee Hynes and his officials as they didn’t have a close-up view, only seeing the Sarsfields player’s headguard being sent flying.

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.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

The one size fits all approach doing sport no favours in strenuous times

John McIntyre

Published

on

Loughrea Golf Club officers attending the launch of the Mary Costello Memorial Classic, left to right: Padraig Hedderman, Vice captain, Anne Gilchreest, Lady Vice Captain, Martin Broderick, Club President, Peggy Gilligan, Lady Captain, Ollie Newell, Captain. Photo: Joe Keane.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WELL, that was an unexpected blow to the solar plexus late last week. There was most of us thinking that crowds allowed at matches in this Covid-19 environment would be increased to 1,000 for sporting activity, only to be hit with something of a double whammy.

Not alone has that not materialised, but the 500 figure which had been flagged in the lifting of the last phase of the coronavirus restrictions from last Monday has fallen by the wayside as well. The consequence is that gatherings of 200, including players and mentors, are all that will be permissible.

As we go to press, the GAA is lobbying hard for that number to be increased to 500 and though nearly all of us appreciate the Government’s cautious approach given the worrying rise in inflections all over the globe, there is surely some grounds for leeway here, especially as being outdoors is the safest place to be.

Moreover, a gathering of 500 won’t compromise social distancing guidelines given the vast area around pitches. This is just common sense, but the GAA and other sporting codes are paying the price for the ‘one size fits all’ approach. The two big problems now are house parties and international travel in and out of the country.

Even with the figure of 500, club officials were already in a nightmare situation. There is such a pent-up desire among people to go out and see something, that crowds going to games were anticipated to be bigger than normal. Now, we are in a scenario resembling the ‘loaves and fishes’ miracle.

In many cases after the players, mentors and officials have been looked after, clubs have barely 30 tickets left to distribute, leading to understandable frustration and agitation. And it’s the bigger matches held at the best equipped venues which will have the numbers attending most rigorously enforced.

There were a series of minor and U21 held games held in various counties last weekend and we are hearing reports of over 500 attending in some cases. Venues that aren’t fenced in are obviously more difficult to patrol, but hosting clubs are just being sensible . . . how can you turn away the parents, for instance, of a player involved.

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.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Long wait is nearly over as clubs fine tune for championship battle

John McIntyre

Published

on

Michelle Kelly of Michael Kelly Engineering presents a set of jerseys to members of the St Thomas' U12 camogie team, from left: Kayla Burke, Aoife Flannery and Ciara Mullins.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

All over the country GAA club teams are putting the final touches to their preparations for county championship campaigns which earlier in the summer looked poised to be one of the casualties of the global Covid-19 pandemic. There was widespread gloom and despair over the toll the coronavirus was having on the sports calendar a few months ago, but the various stakeholders had their sense of perspective kept well in check due to the hundreds of Irish people who were losing their lives from the disease.

Ireland is far from out of the woods yet, especially as global figures for new infections are reaching daily records, but some form of normality has returned over recent weeks even if the economic scars of Covid-19 will be felt for many years to come. In the interim, every Irish citizen has a duty of care and to act responsibility to avoid the virus flaring up badly again on these shores.

Though the GAA, like other sporting organisations, has had to seriously restructure its fixtures calendar, we must be grateful for small mercies. The Inter-county scene will be a throwback to the era where one off day was enough to end the championship aspirations of Gaelic football teams, but their hurling brethren have, at least, been spared the ‘one strike and you’re out’ scenario.

At club level, there is also less of everything. Championship groups have been reduced in number and teams can hardly risk pacing themselves. It will be all about hitting the ground running. In Galway, the local GAA administrators have done an excellent job in coming up with championship structures which are admirably equitable in the circumstances.

There are fewer margins for error but one defeat in the group arena won’t necessarily be fatal. It will also eliminate any element of shadow boxing and should guarantee matches with a real cut and thrust nature to them, bar those when there is a big disparity in standard between the teams.

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.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Advertisement

Weather

Weather Icon
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending