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Inside Track

The game looks over for Cunningham as team boss

John McIntyre

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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

Clampdown on cynical fouls can lead to increase in hurling goals

John McIntyre

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FLASHBACK: Corofin captain Clive Clancy, who was ruled out of the final due to injury, and Ollie Burke, who won the Man of the Match award, pictured with match sponsor Tommy Varden, after their 1991 county senior football final replay win over Salthill. Photo:Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

CAN we look forward to it raining goals in hurling matches from now onwards? Well, the basic hope is that spectators will see more green flags being raised in future after the weekend GAA Congress clamped down on cynical play in no uncertain manner.

Despite a belated intervention by the GPA (Gaelic Players Association), delegates voted in favour for the introduction of a black card and the awarding of a penalty for cynical fouls occurring inside the 20-metre line and the semi-circular arc. The rule will also apply to Gaelic football.

Through there is already a sin-bin in football, 2021 will be the first time that hurlers run the risk of being sent to the dug-out for a ten-minute period for cynical fouling. It’s a move which had far from unanimously approval as heavyweight hurling counties Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway all railed against the motion at Saturday’s virtual Congress.

There is little protest over the awarding of a penalty for what we could loosely describe as professional fouling when a goal-scoring opportunity is obvious. Remember, in last year’s championship, Kilkenny’s Huw Lawlor holding Niall Burke’s hurley in the Leinster final and Adrian Tuohey’s grounding of Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Both incidents prevented the net from been rattled and, in those circumstances, the previous punishment of a close-range free simply didn’t fit the crime. Now, however, the question is being asked: have the GAA gone too far the other way? Most stakeholders would be content with the awarding of a penalty, but to also have the offending player ending up in the sin-bin for ten minutes is undoubtedly a harsh sanction.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Squeezing of club calendar now certain as GAA fields still empty

John McIntyre

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Gary Burke of Turloughmore secures possession against St Thomas' Fintan Burke during last year's Galway senior hurling final at Kenny Park. Heaven knows when the 2021 championionship will even start.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

When the GAA outlined its fixtures calendar for 2021, it left us looking forward to the start of the National hurling and football leagues at the end of February. Instead, the playing fields remain empty with inter-county training yet to even resume and the GAA season already running behind schedule.

Worse again, there is no certainty about when matches will get the green light as despair and frustration among the GAA community reaches the lowest point since Covid-19 hit these shores last March. It’s not just hurlers and footballers who are feeling the strain as bar professional rugby nearly all sport remains off-limits.

Sure, the League of Ireland will soon be kicking off – and more luck to the teams involved – but everything else with the exception of horse and greyhound racing has been deemed too risky in the interests of public health. Sport has become a soft target as the evidence from last year indicates that the playing of games had little or no impact in the spreading of the virus.

Granted, the post county final celebrations were a different story, but there are many, many months to go before local championships reach a climax in 2021. In the interim, the Government and NPHET need to apply some common sense in adjudicating on releasing the vast majority of sports people from solitary confinement.

The mental anguish alone caused by not being able to link up with your team-mates and play the game you love is incalculable. It’s just compounding the gloom and agitation out there, and I’m not sure the various stakeholders are going to tolerateA it for much longer. Revolution is in the air, especially now that the rollout of vaccines is belatedly being reeved up.

Given the delay to the GAA season, it has reopened the debate about whether inter-county or club championships should go first. The decision had been made to put the elite hurlers and footballers on stage from February to July, with the clubs then swinging into action, but every week that passes is compromising this plan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

GAA left with ground to make up after elite-sport exemption ended

John McIntyre

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FLASHBACK: Yvonne Curtin, Kinvara, Carmel Lane, Ballinderreen, Teresa Curtin, Kinvara and Marguerite Lane, Ardrahan enjoying the Galway hurling dinner in the Radisson SAS Hotel in 2005.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WELL, that was some communications balls-up! Since the turn of the year the GAA has been publicly signposting their plans for the year, but nobody in the Government or NPHET thought it worth their while to set the record straight with the country’s biggest sporting organisation . . . that inter-county matches or even training was no longer exempted from Level 5 Covid restrictions.

My word, it wasn’t as if the GAA was in complete hibernation since Christmas. Announcements had been made – and altered – in relation to the return of inter-county training and a calendar was drawn up for the year with the National Leagues originally scheduled to commence at the end of March.

Furthermore, it was in the public domain that the Tailteann Cup – a separate championship for Division Three and Four football teams – would have its inaugural staging in 2021, while a decision had been taken before Christmas that the inter county programme would be staged before the club championships this year . . . a reversal of what happened in 2020.

All of this attracted various forms of publicity and though the GAA had to push back the start of inter-county training on several occasions due to the big increase in Covid transmissions in late December, all the while nobody in the corridors of power in Croke Park was aware that any of these decisions were not theirs to make.

It beggars belief that the GAA wasn’t brought up to speed about their inter-county activity being no longer classified as an elite sport, with the result that nobody knows this week how the GAA season will evolve or when will it even start. As it stands, training at top flight level has been pushed back to at least April 4, with huge knock-on effects for their fixtures calendar. In reality, until the Government outlines its roadmap for lifting Covid restrictions next week, the GAA will have to twiddle their thumbs in frustration.

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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