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Inside Track

The game looks over for Cunningham as team boss

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ON OPPOSITE SIDES: Galway captain David Collins and team manager Anthony Cunningham are disconsolate in the immediate aftermath of last month's All-Ireland defeat to Kilkenny.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

SPORTING unrest in the West stands on the brink of claiming two inter-county GAA management teams which featured at the business end of their respective championships. Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly have already stepped down in Mayo and the smart money suggests that Anthony Cunningham won’t survive in Galway either.

Player revolt is at the heart of both high profile disputes and while the Mayo football joint managers Holmes and Connelly resigned within days of the senior panel intimating their lack of confidence in them, the prospect of a quick solution to the Galway hurling crisis is receding as both sides prepare to dig in for the long haul.

The player mutiny in Galway appears to have caught local GAA officials and most supporters by surprise, especially after it came in the wake of Cunningham being ratified for a fifth year in charge by the County Board last Monday night week. It had been barely a month since he guided the Tribesmen to a second All-Ireland final in four years and looking likely winners against Kilkenny at half-time.

But there had been boiling discontent among the players for several months over Cunningham’s management regime. Matters initially came to a head when they lost heavily to Waterford in the league quarter-final at Walsh Park in late March with only the relative close proximity of the championship preventing a heave against the Galway set up.

Cunningham also took on board the players’ grievances and, initially, the atmosphere in the Galway camp improved. As the team progressed through the championship, especially after their terrific All-Ireland semi-final triumph over Tipperary, it appeared to all intents and purposes that a united dressing-room was on the brink of delivering the Liam McCarthy Cup back West for the first time since 1988.

But their failure to drive on in the second-half against Kilkenny, leading to the county’s sixth consecutive All-Ireland final defeat, contributed to the re-opening of old wounds and the players finally bit the bullet in overwhelmingly passing a vote of no confidence in Cunningham just days before his appointment for a fifth year was due to come up for ratification by the Board.

Just 24 hours before that meeting, the Galway manager was met by a delegation of four players comprising of team captain David Collins, vice-captain Andy Smith and two members of the players leadership group, Joe Canning and David Burke, to inform him of the mood for change among the squad and that they had lost faith in his ability to take them further.

For more revelations and insight from John McIntyre, read this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Galway show guts of champions in a terrific camogie final triumph

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Galway players Aoife Donohue and Siobhan Gardiner with young fan Aine Rohan from Beagh after defeating Cork in Sunday's All-Ireland senior camogie final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO Evan Treacy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THEY are a credit to the county. All the tributes flowing the way of the Galway camogie team this week are richly deserved after their storming finish floored the Rebels at Croke Park on Sunday. It was defiance of the highest order.

Team managers regularly demand of their players in all sports to be ‘carried out on your shield’, but it rarely happens. Too much tension; too much at stake; too much pressure. Well, these remarkable Tribeswomen were in no mood for compromise even when defeat was staring them in the face.

In my near 41-years in the Tribune, it’s doubtful if I have ever seen a Galway team in an All-Ireland final find such reserves of character and sheer heart when the gun was put to their heads. All day, they had hunted in packs but still found themselves three points down with ten minutes remaining in a thrilling showdown.

What more had they left to give? They had thrown everything at Cork from the off and still couldn’t protect their early established lead. It would have been easy to falter physically and mentally, but from somewhere Galway found the necessary resolve to carry the day.

It made for compelling viewing. Cathal Murray’s team were just not prepared to surrender. Instead, they were the ones who exhibited the qualities of champions in pulling the All-Ireland out of the fire. Cork, the most successful county in the history of the sport, was the team to flinch.

Galway’s triumph – their fourth All-Ireland ever – must rank as their greatest of them all. It wasn’t just the fact that it came after a terrific spectacle, but also in the manner of their victory. They had come to GAA headquarters to win and there was no turning back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Even the laws of averages are on Mayo’s side against Tyrone

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Mayo's Tommy Conroy celebrates after landing a crucial point in their All-Ireland semi-final victory over champions Dublin at Croke Park last month.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHEN Mayo suffered their latest All-Ireland football final heartache in December of last year, most of us thought that was the end of them. They had put up a spirited first half display against Dublin, but the champions upped the ante on the resumption in going on to achieve a record breaking sixth championship triumph on the trot.

Gallant as ever, Mayo were left to grieve over a demoralising 12th consecutive All-Ireland final defeat, including the replays of 1996 and 2016, since they last took the Sam Maguire Cup home in 1951. Despite some changing of the guard, they had come up short again on the sport’s biggest occasion. It was little consolation to them that the greatest football force in the history of Gaelic football continued to pile on the misery.

After that defeat, great servants like David Clarke and Keith Higgins departed the scene. Donal Vaughan, Seamus O’Shea, Andy Moran and Tom Parsons were gone too. So close to scaling the summit on so much many occasions, they had given everything for the Mayo cause, but the passage of time had caught up with them.

Unlike previous big clashes against Dublin, there was little drama in Croke Park last December. Mayo again gave an honourable account of themselves, but Ciaran Kilkenny and company knew that they had the title in safe keeping with ten minutes to go. The fact the final was played behind closed doors might have been a blessing in disguise – after all, Mayo fans have suffered enough despair.

Of course, springtime generally brings fresh hope, and one thing Mayo footballers have never lacked for is resilience. Yet when Cillian O’Connor suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury against Clare in a league match in Ennis, the omens looked particularly grim for the championship. Sure, James Horan was building a relatively new team, but they could ill afford to be without their ace marksman.

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

Tenacious Tyrone tear up script in flooring hyped-up Kerry outfit

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Galway's Niamh Kilkenny is chased by Tipperary's Karen Kennedy during Sunday's All-Ireland camogie semi-final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/James Crombie.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALL summer we were being primed for an All-Ireland football final between the sport’s dominant forces. The prospect of Kerry trying to halt Dublin’s quest for a record-breaking seventh consecutive championship triumph took on a life of its own over the past few months with the chances of every other title contender hardly meriting a second look.

Even though Dublin laboured through Leinster and Kerry were involved in a three turkey shoots in Munster, few digressed from the general assumption that Dessie Farrell and Peter Keane would be patrolling the sideline on All-Ireland Final Day in 2001. After all, Donegal’s progress had stalled in Ulster, while the nearly team of Mayo were in transition.

Furthermore, the odds of a bolter from the pack appeared remote. Monaghan, for all their resilience, continue to fall short in the key matches; Tyrone had been hit for six goals by Kerry in a Division One league semi-final in Killarney as recently as June; while Galway were struggling to build any momentum and, into the bargain, suffered league demotion to Division Two.

Against that background, the script for the latest anticipated showdown between Kerry and Dublin looked solid, but lo and behold we are instead facing into an All-Ireland final without either of the big two for the first time in nine years. The occasion will be all the better for it too as Mayo and Tyrone will take centre stage at Croke Park on Saturday week.

Ahead of the weekend’s second semi-final, Mayo had already brought Dublin’s six-year championship winning run to an end after extra-time. That result alone ought to have put Kerry on their guard but after Covid ripped through the Tyrone camp and forced a postponement of their semi-final battle for a fortnight, the assumption was that the Ulster champions would be drained of their normal reserves of energy.

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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