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Inside Track

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

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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

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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