Inside Track with John McIntyre
The bottom has fallen out of Tipperary’s hurling world in the space of a month. Smashed up by Galway in the National League final in late April, the All-Ireland champions endured more misery when losing their provincial crown to a revitalised Cork in a thrilling struggle at Semple Stadium last Sunday.
Widely perceived as the team to beat again this year, Tipperary’s hopes of retaining the McCarthy Cup for the first time since 1965 are now hanging by a thread as their demoralised camp face a massive challenge in trying to reboot their championship ambitions through the qualifiers. They did manage that feat in 2010, but back then they also didn’t have to cope with a crushing league final defeat.
Tipperary would have done a lot of soul searching in the wake of that unexpected thrashing by the Tribesmen. Their cards had been marked and any complacency in their ranks would have been removed. Most observers through it was at timely reality check, but I was of the opinion that they had been seriously holed below the water line and that it would leave them vulnerable in the championship.
They were still strong favourites to get over Cork and though Tipperary produced a far more vibrant display than against Galway, the defensive woes which were so ruthlessly exposed at the Gaelic Grounds came back to haunt them again. Loose marking and a lack of pace allowed the Revels to run riot, while the sector didn’t possess the required physicality either. Conceding a staggering 5-48 in two big matches tells its own story.
Sure, Tipperary still possess terrific forwards and at times, Michael Breen, especially, Noel McGrath, Dan McCormack, Seamus Callanan, second half, John McGrath, and John O’Dwyer conjured up some great scores, but they were simply leaking too much at the other end where the influential Maher brothers just couldn’t provide the necessary leadership or stability.
It was clear from early on that the Rebels were up for the fight, particularly their five newcomers, but when John McGrath drove to the Cork net after a brilliant cross from Callanan in the 55th minutes, you sensed it was Tipperary’s time to turn the screw. This is what champions generally do at crucial stages of big matches, but within seconds the superb Conor Lehane had levelled and from there to the finish, Cork just wanted it more.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’
Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.
The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.
Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.
An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.
Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.
“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.
“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.
“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.
“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.
“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”
(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!
Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.
Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.
“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.
The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.
Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea
Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.
County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.
In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.
“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.
He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.
Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.