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Inside Track

Time to move on as Galway face big challenges ahead

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Galway's new senior hurling management team of Francis Forde, Micheál Donoghue and Noel Larkin follow the action in Sunday's Walsh Cup tie against DCU at Duggan Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHEN Galway hurlers held an unflattering three points half-time lead over Kilkenny in last September’s All-Ireland final, surely the last thing on the minds of Micheál Donoghue, Francis Forde and Noel Larkin was that they would be running the Tribesmen’s sideline for the team’s first game of 2016 just four months later.

But a turbulent off-the-field period after Galway’s second-half collapse against the reigning champions ultimately led to outgoing manager Anthony Cunningham’s departure from a post he had served in for four years. The St. Thomas’ clubman didn’t go willingly after an unexpected heave by the players put his position in jeopardy.

For several weeks a stalemate situation prevailed. Even a mediator was brought in to try and find a compromise, but the Galway hurlers weren’t for budging and whether or not you agree with their stand, you’d have to admire their sense of unity in a pressurised environment. All the time, some ridiculous rumours were flying around the place and it was a challenging time for everybody concerned.

Naturally, there are fears that the controversy will leave a legacy of bad blood and that Galway’s flagship team have done themselves no favours in trying to rally support behind them. Undoubtedly, the players have left themselves a hostage to fortune over the coming months and some knives will be out if they fail to push on under the new management.

Unfortunately, for Galway to go that big step further in 2016, they have to win the All-Ireland title. Getting to the final for the second time in four years under Cunningham was a notable achievement, but clearly the panel want more and they had the guts and balls in taking a largely unpopular position against their team boss. They had serious issues with Cunningham’s management and also believed strongly that a new set up was required to finally lead them to the Promised Land.

It was a brave move and only time will tell whether or not it was more their own inadequacies on the pitch in the second half against Kilkenny rather than any failure of management which accounted for that limp final 35 minutes at Croke Park. Against a background where Galway squads don’t have a reputation for revolting against team managements, the senior hurlers have certainly nailed their colours to the mast.

For all that, Donoghue’s appointment has been well received. He was a stylish and influential centre back on the historic championship wining Clarinbridge team of 2001 that I was involved with and the manner in which he led the club to that breathtaking triumph in the All-Ireland club final in March of 2011 is still fresh in the memory. He subsequently put a shape on Turloughmore with the highlight being a rousing quarter-final win over Portumna.

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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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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