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Inside Track

Time for Galway footballers to circle the wagons

John McIntyre

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THE National Football League has thrown up more than its fair share of surprise results over the past couple of months with some teams badly beaten one week coming out seven days later and leaving that form way behind. Going into the final round of group matches only one county, Westmeath, was protecting an unbeaten record as inconsistency seemed to be rife in the four divisions.

Unfortunately, that plague has affected Galway more than most. After the county received a timely lift when the Ian Burke inspired Tribesmen’s U-21s recorded a battling extra time triumph over Roscommon in the Connacht final at Hyde Park on Saturday evening, less than 24 hours later the seniors’ limitations were again plain to see when coming up well short against Armagh at the Gaelic Grounds.

Understandably, with their Division Two status already secure and only having a very slim chance of winning promotion, Galway would have struggled in the first place to match the motivation of the home team who were still in relegation trouble, but the 0-21 to 1-12 defeat still represented a disappointing outcome as Alan Mulholland’s squad finished their seven match programme with three wins, three losses and a draw in their account.

That’s moderate form in anybody’s language, especially as Galway had begun their campaign with a heartening home victory over Derry. Subsequently, their displays were largely a mix of sub-standard and erratic efforts which was reflected in poor defeats to both Louth and Laois. In other games, Galway showed glimpses – especially in the closing quarter against Wexford – that when the mood caught them, they could still be a potent force, but Sunday’s struggles in Armagh was more reflective of their overall standing in Division Two. They can’t afford to continue to play in fits and starts.

Sure, it would be easy to hide the general assessment that Galway simply doesn’t have enough quality players at present, while they continued to be crippled by a lack of physicality, particularly around the midfield sector, but the team must still aspire to a higher quality of football. There is little doubt that Galway remain in a rut, confidence is brittle and most supporters have lost faith in them but, occasionally, all it takes is one big summer performance to spark a sustained renaissance.

They will have that opportunity in little over five weeks time when Connacht champions Mayo roll into Salthill and though James Horan’s outfit showed that they may be hitting form at the right time with a sterling comeback win over Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday to earn a place in the league semi-finals. they are hardly world beaters and, traditionally, Galway have no fear of them either.

For all that, Mulholland and his management team have big problems to address, notably the chronic inconsistency in their ranks. Against Armagh, they were 0-8 to 0-2 behind in the first-half and in all kinds of trouble only for a breakaway Conor Doherty goal to pull them back into the contest. They still trailed by four at the break but with wind advantage to come, Galway were close enough to pull off a successful comeback. They made a lightning start to the second-half with a brace of points from both Sean Armstrong and Michael Meehan drawing them level.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Missing out on the opportunities that lay ahead will haunt Galway

John McIntyre

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Galway football manager Padraic Joyce digests their Connacht final defeat to Mayo at Pearse Stadium on Sunday with members of his backroom team, Cian Breathnach and Michael Comer. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

NOBODY needed to tell Padraic Joyce the consequences of their narrow defeat to Mayo at a near-deserted Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Losing Connacht’s showpiece match was bad enough, but the real pain was realising that the Tribesmen’s enticing pathway to a first All-Ireland final appearance in 19 years had been completely closed off.

With an All-Ireland semi-final date against either Cork or Tipperary the reward for the winners of the Connacht title, there was a lot more at stake in Salthill than provincial glory. Had Galway got the better of Mayo, they would have fancied their chances against either of those opponents. Suddenly, they would be preparing for an All-Ireland final.

And Galway are one of those teams whose tradition suggests that they would be capable of anything in that environment. Sadly, they are now denied that prospect after a muddling performance against their arch Western foes. Yes, Mayo were the better team and spurned two goal chances, but it was still a match the home team could have won.

Though some of the officiating didn’t do the hosts any favour, it was Galway’s carelessness in possession which must really haunt them. Some of their players were turned over too easily, while their decision making going forward in the opening quarter also left a lot to be desired. Nobody could question the team’s spirit or desire, but they needed to mind ball much better.

Given their injury woes, together with no competitive championship prep for the final and the recent trauma of that league trouncing by Mayo, the hosts’ preparations were far from ideal but Joyce wasn’t inclined to go down the excuses road. He was understandably more frustrated with Galway’s own inadequacies and mistakes, along with the team’s modest scoring haul of 13 points.

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

Galway hurlers must be careful but footballers have to go for it

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Rebecca Hennelly in the swing against Cork’s Laura Treacy during the All-Ireland senior camogie championship clash at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BASING a team’s worth and probable fortunes on one match alone has led many astray – look at the transformation in Cork hurlers in the space of a week – which means there has to be a certain amount of caution in assessing Galway’s chances against Kilkenny in Saturday evening’s provincial decider at Croke Park.

In contrast to the Rebels, the Tribesmen really hit the ground running in their opening championship outing by dismantling Wexford in a one-sided Leinster semi-final. On the evening, Galway were a revelation in sauntering to a 13-point victory. Getting their match-ups right and performing with admirable purpose, Shane O’Neill’s squad looked close to their All-Ireland winning form of 2017.

But are Galway that good? We will certainly know a lot more after their latest tussle with the Cats who are bound to provide a far more searching test than Wexford despite their staggering second-half collapse against Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. Losing a 16-point lead is unheard off in the Brian Cody era and their defence struggled badly when ran at.

Kilkenny’s second-half woes, however, guarantee that they will be really up for the Galway match. Can you imagine the grief Cody has given the players in the interim? Remember too, when Kilkenny have a cause – like in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick – they bring an extra manic desire to the battleground. Galway need to be braced for that.

Yet, they remain hugely dependent on the inspirational TJ Reid to weave his magic up front, but he’s not getting any younger and one wonders will Galway hand the versatile Joseph Cooney the brief of not letting the Ballyhale clubman out of his sights. Obviously, Colin Fennelly is a danger too with his direct style of running, while the Tribesmen won’t need any reminding of the damage Walter Walsh can cause if on a going day.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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Connacht Tribune

Galway and Limerick look best equipped for a December date

John McIntyre

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Galway’s Fabienne Cooney geting the better of Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy during the All-Ireland ladies football senior championship clash at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S time to nail our colours to the mast. In the wake of the ten contenders for this year’s All-Ireland hurling title making their championship debuts, we are predicting a December showdown between Limerick and Galway – the two most formidable physically equipped teams out there.

Of course, there’s still a lot of hurling to be done, but even neutrals were impressed by the power shows over the weekend from both Limerick and Galway. One team defeated the reigning champions by nine points; the other humbled Wexford by a 13-point margin. And it just wasn’t about the gulf on the scoreboards at the end either.

Tipperary and Wexford simply couldn’t cope with the physicality of their respective opponents. They were both ground into submission and as weather conditions are bound to worsen over the winter, it’s the team with the big men who will have an inherent advantage. Bulk and physique alone won’t win All-Irelands, but both Galway and Limerick are also blessed with an abundance of natural talent.

Steady on John, I can hear the local sceptics say. Are you talking about the same Galway team which only drew with Wexford last year and were subsequently sent tumbling from the championship by Dublin at Parnell Park?  Yeah, but 2019 was a season of massive under-achievement for the men in maroon who now look revitalised under Shane O’Neill’s tenure.

On the evidence of Croke Park on Saturday evening, the bite is back in Galway’s hurling. Furthermore, newcomers Eanna Murphy and Fintan Burke are proving big defensive assets, while Brian Concannon looks primed to deliver on the promise of his under-age days judging by the way he tormented Wexford in the Leinster semi-final.

Sure, the title holders didn’t raise much of a gallop but Galway didn’t let them. Seán Loftus, the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal, and the outstanding Conor Whelan were way too slick for Wexford and if Galway bring the same urgency and purpose to the battleground against Kilkenny on Saturday week, I can see only one outcome.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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