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Inside Track

Ryan’s harsh dismissal leaves brave Dublin down and out

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Inside Track with John McIntyre

MOST of the time, neutrals don’t get the results they aspire to in sport. Last Sunday in Croke Park, for instance, virtually everybody outside of Cork would have been willing Dublin to a first All-Ireland hurling final appearance since 1961, but sentiment and romance do not get teams over the line. Instead, they just came up short after an heroic effort in the match of the year.

It’s difficult, however, not to feel some sympathy for Dublin this week. They had gone toe to toe with Cork in a breathtaking spectacle until centre forward Ryan O’Dwyer was controversially dismissed for a second yellow card by referee James Ownes in the 50th minute. The Dubs were holding onto a one point lead and still had every chance of carrying the day, but being reduced to 14 men changed the dynamics of the remaining action.

O’Dwyer’s first yellow card was a bad call and his style of tackling is more the product of his manic desire to win rather than any malice on his part, but since football man Pat McEnaney took over at the head of the national referees group, hurling is being policed far more rigorously. It’s a regretful development and though it’s a debate for another day, the GAA must seriously look at introducing separate refereeing bodies for Gaelic football and hurling.

Given the circumstances of O’Dwyer’s red card, Dublin will be absolutely gutted this week. They had made light of the team’s five-week break since trouncing Galway in the Leinster final and, even still, could have sneaked the verdict only for Paul Ryan losing his nerve with the frees in the second-half. Pat Horgan’s opportunist goal was avoidable too and though overall the Dubs should be immensely proud of their contribution to a hurling epic, they will know deep down that a great opportunity has slipped through their fingers.

The pace and quality of Sunday’s semi-final was exceptional. Some of the point-taking in the first-half was of the classic variety with Danny Sutcliffe, David Treacy, Dotsy O’Callaghan, Conal Keaney, Joey Boland and John McCaffrey landing great scores for Dublin, while Conor Lehane, Lorcan McLoughlin, Pat Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Pa Cronin were doing likewise at the other end. The sliotar was flying up and down the field, leaving the huge crowd of over 62,000 enthralled.

The match was turning into an all-action, high scoring shoot out which Cork appeared to be edging until Paul Ryan’s pass paved the way for Treacy’s well-taken booted goal in the 30th minute. Dublin didn’t really drive on, however, as the Rebels quickly regrouped. They actually managed to lead by 0-15 to 1-11 at the interval after midfielder Daniel Kearney made the most of a stray opposition clearance in the dying embers of the half.

It was no surprise that Dublin abandoned their surprisingly orthodox formation for the second-half. They reverted to a seven-man defensive set up in an effort to close down Cork’s rampaging forwards. Certainly, the rate of scoring was reduced and the men in red jerseys were no longer getting the space and latitude of the opening 35 minutes. In fact, Cork only managed three points in the third quarter and had lost some of their fluency, but then came O’Dwyer’s dismissal which left Dublin with a mountain to climb.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Joyce is right – Galway better off to target league glory than muddle on

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Galway’s Matthew Tierney on the ball against Mayo’s Conor Loftus during Saturday's National Football League tie at MacHale Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

YOU could sympathise with Padraic Joyce’s frustration after Saturday evening’s rip-roaring National Football League clash at MacHale Park. Better game management in the closing minutes would have seen Galway over the line and dealt an early season blow to the new Kevin McStay led Mayo management.

In shades of their league tie against Monaghan in June of 2021 when Galway ended up being relegated after holding a winning hand, they were almost home, albeit clinging to a slender one-point advantage. Mayo were pressing desperately in trying to salvage a draw, but their hopes appeared dashed when Ryan O’Donoghue’s free from the left sideline dropped short.

Referee Joe McQuillan was about to blow the final whistle as Cathal Sweeney emerged with the ball only for the Salthill/Knocknacarra man to cough up possession by attempting a risky kick pass to a teammate. The delivery was over-hit, and the lively Donoghue pounced to bravely drive over the equaliser to send the Mayo fans in the big crowd of almost 14,000 into raptures.

Mayo’s second last point was also avoidable. Again, Galway had possession with Peter Cooke, who had just landed a mighty long-range free. Instead, however, of trying to force his way up the field, the Maigh Cuilinn player turned back towards his own posts, came under pressure, and ended up giving the ball away cheaply.  Galway players should remember that when under the cosh, the sideline is your friend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway under a little pressure to stop Mayo’s early-season gallop

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Hall of Fame award winner Tommy Joe Gilmore with his daughter Olivia, his son Brian and daughter in-law Karen Monks at the Metronic Galway Sports Stars banquet in the Galway Bay Hotel on Friday night. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

We won’t even have reached the end of January and the paths of Connacht’s great footballing rivals will have already crossed twice, with the prospect of more clashes between Galway and Mayo before the end of the inter-county season in late July.

The early 2023 bragging rights have gone to Mayo manager Kevin McStay after their defeat of the Tribesmen in the semi-final of the FBD League – a competition they went on to win last weekend with a comfortable 0-13 to 0-9 victory over Roscommon in the Connacht Air Dome.

Though both teams were in understandably experimental mode, Mayo managed to secure this pre-season competition for the first time in a decade with late points from Cillian O’Connor and Conor Loftus sealing the deal. In the overall scheme of things, the FBD league doesn’t count for much but delivering some silverware so early into his tenure won’t do McStay’s management any harm.

Naturally, Mayo will be anxious to keep the momentum going in Saturday evening’s televised National League clash at MacHale Park, especially given that they narrowly failed to Galway in last year’s provincial championship. A first-half Johnny Heaney goal and some quality free-taking from Shane Walsh just about saw the Tribesmen through in the face of a late siege by the home team.

Galway boss Padraic Joyce kept a sense of perspective after that early season loss to Mayo a couple of weeks ago, but he was blunt enough in assessing the merits or otherwise of some of the players being trialled. Joyce is experienced in the post now and knows what he is looking for. And having led Galway to league promotion, the Connacht title and the All-Ireland final last year, he has earned that leverage to call it as he sees it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Early reality check might prove a good thing for Galway footballers

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Galway’s Johnny Heaney secures possession against Mayo’s Jack Coyne during Saturday's Connacht FBD League semi-final in Bekan. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IF the Galway footballers and team management needed any reminding that their substantial progress in 2022 offers no guarantees for the season ahead, they would have got in spades in Bekan on Saturday evening. Losing a FBD League semi-final to arch-rivals Mayo is no big deal in itself, but does underline the reality that the Tribesmen can’t take for granted building on last year’s achievements. And that may be no bad thing in the long run.

Naturally, Padraic Joyce would have preferred if Galway had got over the line at the weekend, especially in the context of preventing Mayo building up early season momentum under new manager Kevin McStay. In the end, he was probably grateful his team were only three points adrift after a difficult second quarter.

When Mayo went 2-10 to 0-5 ahead early in the second-half, it appeared Galway might suffer a hiding. Their goals came from Jordan Carr and Paul Towey, with Matthew Ruane and Jordan Flynn dominant around midfield. Mayo were also performing with the greater energy.

Gradually, however, Galway got to the pitch of the battle, thanks in no small way to the telling contribution of substitute Tomo Culhane, a player who didn’t make the match-day squad for last year’s All-Ireland final. The Salthill/Knocknacarra clubman scored 2-2 after coming on to revive the Tribesmen’s challenge

With Matthew Tierney also finding the opposition net, Galway were belatedly building up a head off steam. Mayo, however, just did enough to hold on with Towey, Aiden Orme and Bryan Walsh picking off some invaluable points, although it took Rory Byrne’s late save from Nathan Grainger to keep their noses in front.

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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