Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Inside Track

Unsettled Galway should still make short work of Laois

Published

on

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

Fearsome Limerick hit new high by tearing Tipperary rivals apart

Published

on

Galway’s Carrie Dolan breaking away from Laura Doherty of Westmeath during Saturday's All-Ireland camogie championship clash at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

In the aftermath of a wonderful sporting achievement, it’s easy to get carried away and, perhaps, overrate what we have just seen at the expense of great deeds from the past. But even against that background, what Limerick hurlers achieved in the second-half of Sunday’s Munster Final was extraordinary.

They looked a beaten docket at half-time. Trailing by ten points to a Jason Forde inspired and a fiercely committed Tipperary, the All-Ireland champions were in serious trouble. They had conceded two goals directly from opposition puck-outs to Jake Morris and Bubbles O’Dwyer, and so many of their marquee players were off the pace.

In fact, Tipperary could have been ahead by more. With Dan McCormack playing deep to free up Brendan Maher as their sweeper, they created a world of chances with Forde – the most under-rated forward in the game – rifling over a series of points from all angles and distances. Limerick were all at sea and only Cian Lynch and Tom Morrissey were having a significant impact on the action.

But nobody could have envisaged the sensational turnaround in the third quarter. Within 18 minutes, a resurgent Limerick had gone a point ahead as reserves Aaron Gillane and Dan Morrissey added fresh vigour to their challenge at opposite ends of the field. It was like watching two different matches as Tipp were simply overwhelmed.

Their older generation really sagged in the unforgiving temperatures and by the time their management made changes, Limerick had already taking control. On the scoreboard, Tipp were still in it, but their players must have been in a state of shock over how a big lead had been so quickly and so ruthlessly wiped out. Limerick’s younger legs and sheer physical power were now dictating the terms of engagement.

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.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Epic Portlaoise battle highlights what minor level is now missing

Published

on

Galway midfielder Kieran Hanrahan breaking away from Kilkenny’s Harry Shine during the 2020 All-Ireland Minor hurling final at O'Moore Park on Saturday evening. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WHAT unfolded at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise last Saturday evening again puts a negative slant on the GAA’s decision at the 2016 Congress to reduce the age limit for minor competition from U18 to U17 and the U21 grade to U20.
Sure, there were issues with Leaving Cert exams and hold-ups in fixtures at senior level due to the previous under-age structures, but the competitiveness of the minor grade has been drastically impacted by restricting it to U17s, while the former U21 competition carried more prestige than the current U20 championship.
These were hardly intractable problems in the first place, but it is another example of the GAA’s continuous meddling with their competitions and the rule book. On the other hand, you sometimes wonder do Congress delegates sleepwalk their way through proceedings by not anticipating the impact of certain decisions at ground level until it’s too late.
Back to O’Moore Park. Due to Covid 19, the 2020 All-Ireland minor hurling championship was run off about a year behind schedule and the upshot was that many players had reached 18 by the time it came to enter combat. In effect, it was the way things used to be and the resulting increase in intensity and physicality was welcome.
Galway and Kilkenny locked horns in a gripping battle on Saturday evening and there was no holding back to the exchanges. You just don’t have that at U17 level because the players are not nearly as well physically developed. The minor grade is currently a pale imitation of its former glory.
That reality was confirmed in the delayed 2020 championship with the All-Ireland final serving up a compelling struggle for supremacy. Early on, it seemed Galway were about to overwhelm Kilkenny as they established a seven-point lead but, by the end of the game, they needed a brilliantly created goal from Liam Collins to carry the day.

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.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Hurlers are not a busted flush but long road now lies ahead

Published

on

Galway players, from left, Conor Slattery, Tiernan Leen, Michael Walsh and Shane Morgan celebrate after their 2020 All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final victory over Limerick at Cusack Park on Friday evening. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT happens to even the best of teams, especially when they are lulled into a false sense of security. The Galway hurlers headed to Croke Park last Saturday expecting to win their Leinster semi-final against Dublin but, unfortunately, their match-day attitude bore the gait of a men who weren’t mentally prepared to really work for it.

In their own heads, Galway probably thought that no matter how the match unfolded, they would still have Dublin’s number. That backdrop feeds over-confidence and complacency, and when things started going horribly wrong for the Tribesmen, their response was disappointing with only a handful of players escaping the wreckage.

This was not a game Galway could ever take for granted. Having lost to the Dubs two years ago and with the U20s coming unstuck against the same opposition a fortnight ago, the anticipation was that they would be in the zone from the off. They had the early pressure, and chances, but poor decision-making was to come back and haunt them.

Though Galway ought to have quickly realised that they were in a battle, the required intensity was missing. When you see the way the Kilkenny and Wexford players tore strips off each other in the second-semi-final, it underlined just how much Shane O’Neill charges didn’t front up physically. Sure, players were trying but few maroon bodies were repeatedly laid on the line.

Galway were curiously impatient as well. Their lust for goals early on did them no favours, especially coming up against a goalkeeper in Alan Nolan, who was at the top of his game. The fact that Galway couldn’t counteract or work through Dublin’s flooded defensive lines also reflects poorly on their tactical awareness.

When you consider the huge scoring totals Galway ran up in the league, their miserly tally of 1-14 last Saturday comes as a shock to the system. True, they had an abundance of scoring chances, but you couldn’t argue that their hurling ever really flowed. So many players were below par and under pressure, Galway struggled to get on the front foot for any sustained length 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.

 

 

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending