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Shocking day by the seaside leaves Galway washed up

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THE easiest thing this week is to join the chorus line and put the boot in after a humiliating experience for Galway footballers in their own backyard last Sunday. Having surrendered meekly to Mayo in a record-breaking Connacht championship defeat, the knives are out for both the mentors and players, with the critics having a field day at the expense of the men in maroon jerseys.

And to think that in the days and hours leading up to the Connacht quarter-final, even some neutrals were giving Galway a genuine chance of toppling last year’s All-Ireland finalists at Pearse Stadium. That thought process was largely framed by the tradition of past meetings between these arch Western rivals, with generally never much between them in the modern era and, often, the pre-match favourites being turned over.

All the pressure was on Mayo. Chasing a third provincial tile on the trot and touted as one of the top four contenders to lift the Sam Maguire Cup in 2013, they have regularly flopped under the weight of expectation before but, instead, we saw a different Mayo last Sunday. There was a harder edge to them; they used their greater experience to telling effect; and, physically, overpowered the home team in many of the key individual battles. There was only one team in it and, no wonder, TV analyst Joe Brolly described Galway as ‘kids’.

At times, it was embarrassing to watch. Some of the Galway defending was alarmingly naive and their tendency to try and pass their way up the field only led to turnovers and trouble. All of Mayo’s three opening-half goals were avoidable, but such was the yawning gulf between the teams that Galway were already demoralised by the break. A string of self-inflicted blows together with Mayo’s overwhelming superiority led to a staggering half-time scoreline of 3-9 to 0-6. Nobody saw that coming.

If the Galway supporters in the crowd of over 16,000 thought things couldn’t get any worse, they were wrong. Within 15 minutes of the resumption, the Tribesmen were down to 13 players after Gareth Bradshaw and Niall Coleman were dismissed for off-the-ball offences. Undoubtedly, there was provocation involved, but players simply can’t lose their discipline in such circumstances. It just made a terrible day for Galway football even more shameful as Mayo sauntered through the second-half with substitute Andy Moran, back after a serious knee injury, applying the coup de grace in injury time.

Bradshaw and Coleman were probably both frustrated and annoyed at how the match was evolving, but they were no good to Galway on the sideline. The fight, however, had long since gone out of Alan Mulholland’s charges. They had done reasonably in the opening quarter with the sprightly Danny Cummins, Paul Conroy and Michael Meehan, a wonderful placed ball effort from the sideline for their opening score, finding the target, but soon the floodgates were to open as Galway’s challenge quickly disintegrated.

The lack of cynicism in their rearguard was reflected in the manner by which Mayo championship debutant Cathal Carolan meandered his way through a series of flimsy tackles to beat Manus Breathnach, who was given no protection, at his far post in the 15th minute. The Galway full back line, all members of the All-Ireland winning under 21 team of 2011, were playing as though they were still performing in that grade and that innocence contributed to a nightmare experience.

The unforced errors continued to kill Galway and when Tomas Flynn gave the ball away out the field, seconds later Enda Varley was rifling the ball to the Galway net. A third goal followed from Donal Vaughan in the 34th minute and it was reminiscent of something you’d see in the schoolyard. The home defence was completely marked absent and goalkeeper Breathnach was left all alone as he tried to close down Cillian O’Connor, who had the simple task of laying off the ball for the raiding and unchallenged Mayo half-back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Connacht raise the roof again with magnificent late heroics

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Claregalway's Dara Whelan, Conor Flaherty, Barry Callanan and Dylan Buckley with the Padraig Stephens Cup after their County U20 A Football Final victory over Salthill-Knocknacarra at Duggan Park on Saturday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE dramatic finale at the Sportsground on Saturday ought to have made the RTE Six One News sporting headlines, but there wasn’t a mention of Connacht’s extraordinary late heroics against Gloucester which keeps the province’s hopes of reaching the European Champions Cup quarter-finals alive.

Instead, the rugby spotlight was on Munster’s away defeat to champions Saracens. Later during the sports segment on the Six One News, Connacht’s never-say-die comeback was relegated to the last match of the Champions Cup wrap up. RTE, in their wisdom, believed that Munster’s 15-6 loss and Leinster’s routing of a makeshift Northampton on the same day were somehow more meritorious.

If Leinster or Munster had achieved what Connacht did in the latest round of European pool matches, can you imagine how gushing RTE’s coverage would have been? When a Tipperary man with a strong GAA background starts taking offence over Connacht not getting the coverage they are entitled to, it does give an insight into why rugby in the West feels hard done by in terms of national acclaim.

For all that, last Saturday was another thumping experience on College Road. With their European Championship knock-out ambitions on the line, it was victory or bust for Caolin Blade and company. But when Connacht trailed by 24-13 with less than six minutes remaining, it was impossible to see how they could salvage a result.

A pragmatic Gloucester already had the four-try bonus point in the bag. They may have trailed 10-7 at the break having faced the elements, but  tries from Mark Atkinson (two) and captain Lewis Ludlow turned the game on its head. Connacht were remaining competitive but the breaks were going the way of a team they had never previously beaten.

The home fans in the crowd of 6,800 were understandably resigned to the worst. The yellow carding of Ludlow for a deliberate knock on meant Gloucester were reduced to 14 for the closing minutes, but nobody at the Sportsground thought much of it. Connacht were 11 points behind with time running out. They needed a miracle.

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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

Being backed into a corner could help to ignite the Galway hurlers

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Galway full back Daithí Burke giving Wexford's Paul Morris no quarter during Sunday's Leinster hurling championship clash at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

MICHEÁL Donoghue faces the biggest challenge of his management career so far after Galway’s latest subdued display of 2019 at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. A lot of the same personnel are still there from the team’s magnificent All-Ireland triumph of two years, but the form of a number of influential players has nose-dived since last September’s championship loss to Limerick.

After a late collapse against Waterford in the National League quarter-final, Galway had some questions to answer ahead of their Leinster campaign and not withstanding their significant injury problems over the past few months, the Tribesmen’s stock has continued to decline judging by this month’s displays against both Carlow and Wexford.

Though it’s far from a full-blown crisis and we must keep a sense of perspective, there’s no point being wise after the event. On the evidence of what have seen to date this summer, Galway are dicing with an unexpected premature exit from the championship unless the squad can rediscover the hunger, intensity and quality which characterised many of their performances in 2017.

The continued absence of Joe Canning – and it is a mighty blow – can’t explain everything. Sure, Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Jonathan Glynn, Adrian Tuohey and John Hanbury, an important introduction against Wexford, remain short of competitive action, but as a package, Galway should still be better than this.

Failing to find the net against either Carlow or Wexford, together with the lack of fluency and sharpness, has some local alarm bells ringing, leaving the team management with plenty to ponder on ahead of Sunday week’s big collision with Kilkenny. Lose that and Galway’s season will hang on getting a result at Parnell Park – an unforgiving venue at the best of times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

St Thomas’ man behind the scenes typifies why club is going so strong

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The St. Thomas' management celebrate after their county SHC final victory over Liam Mellows. Left to right: Kenneth Larkin, Claude Geoghegan, Kevin Lally and TJ Ryan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

WHAT was meant to be a few minutes of soundbite ahead of St. Thomas’ All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final clash against Cushendall on Saturday has metamorphosed into a full-scale Talking Sport interview. Simply, because, Claude Geoghegan is an interesting guy.

For the past decade, Geoghegan has been the man behind the scenes and in his own inimitable way he has contributed just as much to St. Thomas’s success story as anybody else in Kilchreest and Peterswell. Perhaps, even more so.

As club secretary, he presided over St. Thomas’ historic county and All-Ireland club victories in the 2012/2013 season while, in the past three years, he has served as selector under managers John Burke and Kevin Lally, winning a county senior crown with each in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is a proud record.

“I have held a few positions alright over the best part of a decade now — four or five years as secretary — and this is my third year involved now with the senior team. It is a way of life, I suppose, more than anything else,” begins the 31-year-old.

“When you are from a rural locality, it is what you are brought up with. It is what you know. If I wasn’t involved in the club in some capacity, I would feel I had a bit too much spare time on my hands. I would feel a bit odd without it, being honest.”

A history teacher at Presentation College, Athenry, Geoghegan explains his family are steeped in GAA tradition. His father Seamus hurled with the club before managing the intermediate team, as it was back then, while his older brother James has also done his duty as club secretary.

“Also, when the club amalgamated in 1968, my father was on the U14 team that won the county championship that year. We actually haven’t won the ‘A’ championship at U14 since. We have won plenty, but not that.”

Indeed, three SHC county titles in the last seven years would suggest that St. Thomas’ is a very special club but Geoghegan argues they are no different to any of the other clubs around. “Every other club is putting in the time that we are putting in. We are not special in any way in comparison to anyone else but we are incredibly fortunate to have a special group of players who have come together at one time.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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.

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