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Inside Track

Unsettled Galway should still make short work of Laois

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Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S a fixture which has seldom caused Galway hurlers undue difficulty in the past and the expectation is for that trend to continue when the Tribesmen make their championship debut against Laois at O’Moore Park on Sunday. There is no prospect of a shock result in the Leinster semi-final as the gulf in standard between the two teams is simply too great.

Naturally, the sound bites emanating from the Galway camp will be respectful of the Midlanders’ challenge, but this is the classic routine assignment for them and anything bar a convincing victory would be disappointing against a team which was campaigning in the third tier of the National League this spring against the likes of Kildare, Wicklow, Kerry and Derry. Laois eventually made the Division 2A final where they recorded a 3-14 to 1-9 victory over Westmeath.

That result turned the tables on Brian Hanley’s charges from the teams’ group clash and Laois have built on that performance with clear-cut Leinster championship wins over Antrim and Carlow to reach their Leinster semi-final for the first time since 2005. Under new manager Seamus Plunkett, they have definitely made some progress even if they were starting from a very low base, while home advantage won’t do them any harm either.

The expected loss of defender Brian Campion with a groin injury is a blow they could have done without, but they have a few decent forwards in the likes of Stephen Maher, Willie Hyland and Zane Keenan while Cahir Healy is their midfield pulse. Team boss Plunkett was bullish in his post-match commentary after the Carlow game, saying that they ‘didn’t fear Galway’ and would be going all out for the win.

That positive if hard to justify vibe underlines the improved spirit in the Laois set up, but the bottom line is that they will be taking a huge step up in class when Galway roll into Portlaoise on Sunday. Things will be happening a lot faster than they were against both Antrim and Carlow, and it’s extremely doubtful if the home team will have be able to cope with the movement, pace and stickwork of last year’s All-Ireland finalists who haven’t been seen in public since their disappointing league semi-final loss to Kilkenny.

Galway were disjointed that day and reports from the camp over recent weeks have been mixed in relation to squad morale and the individual form of players. They have played challenge games against Dublin, Tipperary and Cork over the past few weeks with their displays regarded as being of the ‘up and down’ variety and offering no clear indication of who will be lining out in the central defensive positions against Laois.

It’s hardly helped either that a team management directive to their players not to line out in the Kilbeacanty Sevens tournament on the Bank Holiday Monday was not adhered to by the six-strong St. Thomas’ contingent, especially as the Gort and Ardrahan county panellists did what they were asked. The fact that it was Anthony Cunningham’s own club which was involved compounded the sense of anarchy.

Stuff like that can permeate down through a panel and it is known that a number of Galway’s more seasoned players were taken aback by the St. Thomas’ snub to the county team mentors. It’s hardly Cunningham’s fault as he would have given the instruction not to play in Kilbeacanty in good faith and the squad are bound to have moved on in the interim, but the optics of that particular episode did look bad.

Leaving all that aside, the general mood around the county about Galway’s championship prospects is largely downbeat. The lack of a settled team is causing some concern, but I have always felt too much store is placed on having a regular formation anyway. Players’ form can be so variable, there is also the disruption of injuries and management can’t be a slave to what happened the year before. For instance, can Iarla Tannian repeat his exploits when moved to midfield with such success in the summer of 2012?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Lyng taking over from Cody leads to an outbreak of relief in Galway

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Galway's Ciara Donohue breaking out of defence against Lauren Homan of Cork during Sunday's All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THERE was surely a collective sigh of relief in Galway’s hurling strongholds when former midfielder Derek Lyng was appointed to succeed Brian Cody as the new Kilkenny manager last week – the first time since the winter of 1998 that a new senior supremo has been unveiled down Noreside way.

After Cody somewhat surprisingly ended his long tenure as Kilkenny manager in the wake of last month’s battling All-Ireland Final defeat to Limerick, it was only natural that current Galway team manager Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny’s most decorated player of all-time, would be linked with the vacancy.

“Don’t do it Henry” was a common refrain on social media as Galway supporters understandably feared the Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman would find the prospect of talking over his native county impossible to resist. Lyng, Martin Fogarty and ex-Laois boss Eddie Brennan were also touted as being in the running.

A similar precedent had been set this summer when Liam Cahill abruptly departed Waterford to return to Tipperary after the local County Board hardly covered itself in glory in the manner it ended the tenure of former player Colm Bonnar after just one year in charge. Admittedly, it had been a tough championship for Tipperary, losing all four games in Munster, but there were extenuating circumstances.

For starters, Brendan Maher and Padraic Maher retired – the latter was forced to hang up the boots due to a neck injury – while other heroes of past All-Ireland triumphs, Bubbles O’Dwyer, John McGrath and Seamus Callanan, were also notable absentees. It meant Bonnar took over a Tipperary team in transition.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Lots of positivity around but Galway will now have target on their backs

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Owner Annette Mee with Monday’s Galway Festival bumper winner,This Songisforyou. Also included are Emmet Mullins, trainer, Laura Keir, and jockey Derek O'Connor. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

ALL around Ballybrit last week, the post All-Ireland football final verdict was virtually unanimous: Galway were unlucky against Kerry but had done the county proud. Naturally, the big focus was on the harsh free awarded against John Daly as he attempted to break out of defence late in the match.

Of all the varying opinions on the controversy doing the rounds at the races and in the media at large, former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness probably put it the most succinctly of all in Saturday’s edition of the Irish Times. He said anyone just focusing on the first part of the incident would award a free out to Daly, but those only seeing Killian Spillane’s arm being pulled in by the Galway number six would have sided with referee Seán Hurson’s call.

And that’s in a nutshell. The first foul was committed on Daly and that should have led to a crucial free out for Galway just seconds after Damien Comer had forced a terrific turnover. In that moment, however, Kerry got a break they weren’t entitled to, and the Munster champions weren’t slow in taking advantage.

Galway were that close to ending 21-years in the All-Ireland wastelands, but Padraic Joyce and his players don’t need any reminding that it’s a long way back to next year’s final. Sure, they have made huge progress over the past few months and their camp will now be stacked with belief, but there are no guarantees that they will enjoy another protracted run in 2023.

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

Nothing certain in 2023 but at least Galway won’t start from base camp

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Galway manager Pádraic Joyce and defender Kieran Molloy look on during the presentation of the Sam Maguire Cup to Kerry after Sunday's All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE sense of anti-climax will be overwhelming for everybody associated with the Galway footballers this week. Homecomings are an understandable necessity of the All-Ireland final experience, but they can be a testing environment for deflated players and management. Within hours you’re going from great expectations to utter despair.

The fact that Galway could have ended a 21-year All-Ireland drought will only compound the disappointment, and though the Tribesmen have laid a great foundation for the seasons ahead, there is absolutely no guarantee that this group will even get back to Croke Park on finals day again.

First of all, Galway’s cover is well and truly blown which means the accompany rise in expectations is something of a double-edged sword. There will be extra pressure as well compared to 2021 when there was a ‘bonus feel’ to the team’s major progress in the championship. They kind of came in under the radar, but won’t have that luxury next year.

The other big issue is outside their control. Now that Kerry are finally back on top of the football tree and the accompanying weight lifted off their shoulders after an eight-year wait, it’s probable that the new champions will be even better in the foreseeable future. You couldn’t say that they were lucky to win on Sunday, but you’d know from their early profligacy especially that these Kerry players were feeling the pressure.

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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