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Inside Track

Same old story as Galway come up well short again

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Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy consoles his Galway counterpart Colm Callanan after their victory in the Leinster Hurling Final at Croke Park on Sunday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HEAVES or revolts by GAA players against their management have little tradition of turning a team into All-Ireland champions – barring the notable exception of the Offaly hurlers in 1998 when their mid-season mutiny against Babs Keating ultimately delivered an unlikely championship triumph that September.

It’s still a seldom used nuclear option for disaffected inter-county squads, but last autumn in the West not one but two high profile teams went for broke off-field in successfully removing their sideline personnel after big-day defeats in Croke Park. It was almost as if the Mayo footballers and the Galway hurlers believed their management staff were holding them back.

Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, the joint Mayo bosses, immediately saw the writing on the wall and stepped down quickly, but Anthony Cunningham refused to budge until belatedly realising that his understandable defiance would end up hurting the county he had served so loyally as a player and manager. In his resignation statement, he criticised the ‘kangaroo court’ environment and was still clearly struggling to come to terms with the players’ uprising after leading them to two All-Ireland finals in four years.

But now in the space of little more than a fortnight, the Mayo and Galway teams have been left looking a little foolish after both failed their first big tests of the summer. Mayo’s five-year reign in Connacht was ended on their home turf in Castlebar when their unexpectedly negative game plan contributed to an unexpected defeat by Galway. They looked men under pressure and failed to perform.

At least, the Galway hurlers had a cut at Croke Park last Sunday, but in a Leinster final which bore remarkable similarities to the 2015 All-Ireland decider, the Tribesmen again flattered to deceive as they just didn’t have the answers or leadership to cope with Kilkenny’s marked increase in intensity levels on the resumption. Who will the players blame on this occasion? Lads, it’s time to take some personal responsibility.

Don’t get me wrong as Galway put up sterling resistance and hardly took a step backwards until deep into the third quarter, but once the Cats sharpened the claws the response from the maroon-clad challengers was disappointing. Too many key figures – notably, Joe Canning – were again marked absent when the heat came on and the body language of several players was that of beaten men long before the finish. Resolve rather than commitment was the problem.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Shefflin gets a big reality check as Galway collapse against the Dubs

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Clarinbridge U20 players Cian Moore, Eoin Ryan, Oisin Shannon, Gavin Lee and Christy Brennan show their delight after defeating Castlegar in the County A Final at Duggan Park on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE most troubling aspect of the turkey shoot at Parnell Park on Sunday was that Dublin could have won by 25 points or more. Goodness knows, it was bad enough as it was with the Tribesmen being trounced on a 3-29 to 0-19 scoreline.

In retrospect, the warning signs were there in Ballinasloe the previous weekend when Galway took a long time to put Offaly away. The Midlanders may be improving, but they are coming from a very low base and haven’t even participated in the Leinster championship since 2018.

Galway were a shambles against Dublin despite fielding a slightly stronger line-out on paper. Darren Morrissey, Evan Niland and Niall Burke were back, while the inclusion of the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal, beefed up their bench.

Yes, we know Dublin fielded a much stronger team; are difficult to beat at Parnell Park; and have overcome Galway in their last two championship meetings, but still the gulf in standard between the teams was startling. The Dubs were in a different league.

Henry Shefflin is not used to days like this and the difficulty for him is that his arrival in Galway has sparked an expectation that big things lie ahead of the Tribesmen in 2022. But regardless of the man in charge, supporters are ignoring the reality of the team’s fortunes over the past two years. One win in their last five championship matches tells its own story.

Galway do have some players to come back and it’s too early in the year to go all negative about their prospects, but what we saw in Parnell Park was alarming. Some of the players they are trying out are not up to it and while the Galway management need to unearth new talent, they must be more selective in this regard.

Six players who featured in last summer’s championship exit to Waterford were involved at one stage or another last Sunday: Morrissey, Niland, Burke, Gearoid McInerney, and the Mannions. Two more have retired since – Joe Canning and Aidan Harte – and another two, Shane Cooney (knee) and Jason Flynn (hamstring), are set to miss the championship.

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

National Archives offer revealing window into Ireland’s recent past

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Uneasy alliance...Charlie Haughey and Margaret Thatcher on the steps of 10 Downing Street.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I’ve been covering the political so long time now that I’m the one they send down every year to look at the records being released by the National Archives. It used to be that confidential Government documents were kept for 30 years under lock and key before they were released. Thus the material that would have been opened before Christmas would have been the records from 1991 –  the last year of Charlie Haughey’s era as Taoiseach.

But about seven years ago, the British changed the rules on their releases and gradually brought the confidential period down, year-by-year, from 30 down to 20. They are now at about 22 years.

This left the Irish State in a bit of pickle. If we kept our rule we would have been badly out of sync with the British.

What did that matter? Well, the main event as far as it concerns the Archives is the Anglo-Irish stuff. That’s all the meetings abut Northern Ireland between the Taoiseach of the day and the British prime minister – and all the stuff generated between other senior politicians and officials.

So over the past few years from the Irish archives, we have been learning of the extraordinary summits between Haughey and Thatcher, with her going on massive rants about the IRA and the Government here not doing enough to prevent IRA attacks, and the Gardaí being like Keystone Cops because they were using arcane methods to gather intelligence.

Which was all very well. But that stuff – and seen from the prism of Margaret Thatcher and her officials – has been in the public realm in Britain for at least six or seven years. So, to borrow a phrase from the Northern Ireland peace process, there was not full parity of esteem when it came to viewing the documents.

The media always get in about a week early to preview the documents and write up reports on what they say – they appear on the days that the documents are released.

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

Some words of caution for Galway – Shefflin alone won’t turn the tide

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Galway defenders Stephen Barrett and Gearóid McInerney tussling for possession with Offaly's John Murphy during Sunday's Walsh Cup tie at Duggan Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

HENRY Shefflin has been keeping a low profile since his stunning appointment as Galway hurling manager last October. No Interviews; no public appearances. Instead, the Kilkenny legend was getting familiar with a group of players he barely knew or cared about until a few months ago.

His arrival in Galway sparked huge excitement and, of course, expectation. But until Sunday’s Walsh Cup encounter against Offaly at a heaving Duggan Park, Shefflin would have been largely cocooned from the impact his taking over of the Tribesmen was having. Over 3,000 people at a tournament fixture in early January says it all.

Only for Covid restrictions, there would have been twice that number in Ballinasloe. As a great player, Shefflin has been dealing with pressure all his life, but coming west is a different ball game altogether. On the field, the Ballyhale man influenced outcomes on a consistent basis. Apart from his incredible scoring feats, his vision was also extraordinary.

He was also the de facto leader of the greatest hurling team ever seen. In the 2012 All-Ireland final replay against Galway, Kilkenny were struggling but Shefflin’s switch to the forty turned the game. Nobody how good his tactical acumen is, he will never have that kind of impact on matches from the Galway sideline.

There is a belief out there that Shefflin getting involved with the Galway hurlers will transform their fortunes nearly overnight. Sure, his presence alone will energise the squad as will his status as a winner, but he is not a miracle worker. Remember too, Galway have lost four of their last five championships games and at one stage in their defeat to Waterford in 2021, they were an embarrassing 16 points behind.

Furthermore, Joe Canning – Galway’s greatest ever hurler – and the ultra-dependable Aidan Harte have hung up their inter-county boots in the interim. A few more, notably David Burke, Johnny Coen, Joseph Cooney and Gearóid McInerney, are raging against the passage of time.

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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