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1
GAA Discussion / Re: Ros v Galway Connacht Final 2019
« on: Today at 11:24:57 AM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/kevin-mcstay-sliding-doors-moment-has-worked-out-very-well-for-roscommon-1.3928559

Kevin McStay: sliding doors moment has worked out very well for Roscommon

Scenes from Salthill on Sunday showed the best side of the provincial championships


 
Kevin McStay

 I left RTÉ after the Sunday Game and made it back to Roscommon town shortly before one in the morning. The doors were open to all houses and the streets were busy and merriment was general.

It’s funny. In a year in which many people, including myself, have been advocating for a new order which would probably see the end of the provincial championships, it’s as if the old rivalries have been mocking us.

This year’s Connacht championship has been one big surprise and Roscommon have been at the heart of it. So they enjoyed Sunday night as much as any Connacht winning year.

The build-up to the game had been odd for me. I met Derek McGrath, the former Waterford hurling manager, a few weeks ago. We agreed that being “the ex-manager” is a surreal existence. Because people see you and automatically still link you with the team and ask you about things as if you are still there: in the dressing room, at training, on the phone to the players. What they don’t realise is that that phone is dead: the cord is cut. You don’t even have the number. You know a bit more than the guy on the street – but not much more!

So I was driving up to RTÉ on Sunday morning wondering about the Roscommon substitutes – who would they bring in; in what scenario would such and such work? Two years ago, that was my decision. Now, I was just guessing like anyone else. You go from a situation where you know everything about these lads – their exams, their partners, their car problems, their tractor problems, their work aspirations. And then one day it is the sound of silence. It is over.
Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg celebrates after beating Galway to win the Connacht senio football championship. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg celebrates after beating Galway to win the Connacht senio football championship. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho 
The point is: the week reminded me that I am outside of that bubble. And we do not know what is going on inside that group. There’s a (bleak) saying: the train you don’t see coming is the train that’s going to kill you. And what we don’t know is how hungry and hurt and desperate Roscommon were for this victory. We can only guess at their internal motivations and belief.


So on Sunday, I was headed east and all the cars with flags were setting out – early – for Galway. There was great excitement around the county. It felt different to 2017, which was a win that came as a massive surprise. That final was supposed to be the implosion of us as a group. On Sunday, Roscommon people felt that if a few things worked out, then a good result was a strong possibility.

And part of me would have loved to have been on the bus as the man leading that charge. But then you remember the eight months of unglamorous slog on the field, the constant stress of thinking and thinking about the team – I would fall asleep convinced I had to drop X and then wake up absolutely certain that X was the man to drive midfield.

It is always, always on your mind. It runs your life. And it is worth it: if you win. That is the killer bit about a final. For Anthony Cunningham, all of the mental and physical hours he has put in are worth it this week. And for Kevin Walsh, the question is: what now?

“The expectation to win is ingrained in Galway and Mayo minds. It just is

How good are Roscommon? They were decent in the opening quarter and then lost their energy and enthusiasm in that second period. They had a brilliant third quarter and maybe just hung on to see the game out. So it was a good performance but also one on which they need to build. I thought Hubert Darcy and Colin Compton did extremely well when introduced: they were significant substitutions.

It was a puzzling day from a Galway perspective. I felt that as a management, they needed to figure out the Roscommon full-forward line. And they didn’t. They didn’t contain Diarmuid Murtagh (1-3), Conor Cox (0-4) or the general influence of Enda Smith.

Related Kevin McStay: Mayo’s progress to Super 8s far from guaranteed 
Kevin McStay: Cavan's win shows the value of focused planning 
Kevin McStay: Provincial championships losing their lustre 

I think what is lost sometimes is this: there is a hierarchy in Connacht. Roscommon are the pesky neighbours to Galway and Mayo. What that means is that the expectation to win is ingrained in Galway and Mayo minds. It just is.

I had Galway up there in my list as contenders prior to this year’s championship. And I know how the squad must have felt on Monday morning. I would have a lot of empathy for them – my people are from Galway.
Cathal Cregg celebrates a late point. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho Cathal Cregg celebrates a late point. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho 
I think it’s clear that the Galway public has never loved this set up and that media people have gone after Kevin for the way they play. And I’ll say this: Kevin is a very decent human being. He was a marvellous footballer. And stand back at look at his record. Galway had no Connacht titles since 2008 when Kevin took over in 2015. That is a massive gap for the brand leader in the province. Kevin came in and he broke the Mayo monopoly. He has won two Connacht titles, reached All-Ireland quarter-finals; an All-Ireland semi-final; a national league final.

But the general negativity goes back to this defensive formation that Galway have favoured. Why do you suppose he does that? Well, he knows that in order to thrive, a team must have defensive solidity and organisation. That became their calling card.

The criticism directed at Kevin and Galway is predicated on the belief that this system is stifling Galway’s creativity and attack and that any team that wants to win an All-Ireland has to show more ambition and thrust and get more players further up the field. Does nobody ever stop to think that Kevin Walsh knows this better than anyone? We don’t see what he sees at training. We don’t know what happens if Galway defenders are left exposed in one-on-one situations, isolated against their direct opponent.


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We don’t know this because Kevin hasn’t allowed it to happen in competitive games. There may be a good reason for that. He can’t ever come out and say it. He can’t say: hey, I can’t leave these guys on their own or we’ll get cleaned out. But maybe that is the reality.

Within the context of this final, the answer as to why Galway collapsed in the second half is not immediately obvious. Leadership and intensity is too simplistic. But Damien Comer, Paul Conroy and Ciaran Duggan are big physical presences and they were missing through injury. Fintan Ó Curraoin had to leave the field with an injury. It can be hard to win big games when significant players are out. But the nature of the collapse has to be worrying for the management group.

“You have to give massive kudos to Roscommon. They blew the game open in six minutes after half time

There wasn’t a man in Roscommon who felt confident of victory at half-time. But, astutely, Colm Cooper noted on the Sunday Game, you just can’t back Galway to tidy a game like that up: to finish it off. The easiest answer, of course, is that Galway are just not quite good enough.

It is going to be a tough week in Galway football land. The group needs to stick tight this week and next. Because they can win a round four qualifier and get back on the horse. But I believe yesterday ended their chances of a long summer. The confidence is being drained from the group and what little support there is among the public will likely evaporate.
Conor Cox and Tadgh O’Rourke goe past Thomas Flynn. Photo: Tommy Grealy/Inpho Conor Cox and Tadgh O’Rourke goe past Thomas Flynn. Photo: Tommy Grealy/Inpho 
I thought Kevin looked tired and a bit haunted. And I recognised that look. You can see Brian Silke’s frustration and this recognition of: “God, this is gone from us again”.

The cold stats are alarming. Four of the Galway forward line taken off. Two points in 44 minutes; outscored 1-8 to 0-2 in the second half. The first point of the second half only arriving 21 minutes into that half. The second, a 45, when the game was into injury-time. Kevin will be disappointed, frustrated and livid.

Against that, you have to give massive kudos to Roscommon. They blew the game open in six minutes after half-time. Galway were 10 for 11 from shots taken in the first half. In the second, they had nine shots and scored two. Roscommon were 50 per cent in the first half. But in the second half, they were nine scores for 11 shots. The halves were mirror images statistically.

In slightly different circumstances, Roscommon could now be a three-in-a-row team this week. The confidence this win brings – a three-week rest and a first Super Eights game at home against a round four qualifier – is inestimable.

What was lost in the commentary is that Roscommon had nine new starters from last year’s final. Niall McInerney, Cathal Compton and Ciaran Murtagh were not available to Anthony and they would be automatic picks if playing to full potential. Roscommon now have a defensive mindset and a desire and a feeling, surely, that they must belong in elite company.

“The two teams I would hate Roscommon to meet between now and the end of the year are Mayo and Galway

The challenge now is to perform and compete at that highest level. People forget that Roscommon had agreed on a new manager prior to this season. Then he withdrew his name. And then Dublin hurling went in a different direction and Anthony became available. It was a sliding doors moment and it has worked out very well for Roscommon. Sport can be funny.


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So where can Roscommon go with this? Five Connacht finals in four years mean they are not newbies. They have two titles out of four attempts, which is above the Rossies’ mean average. The challenge now is to perform but it may not be this year that we see the best of this group.

The two teams I would hate Roscommon to meet between now and the end of the year are Mayo and Galway. Mayo, in particular, are just more grizzled and experienced.

Roscommon’s massive ambition for 2019 would be an All-Ireland semi-final. So when can they burst through this glass ceiling and dream the impossible with conviction? Well, when they perform and compete seriously at the Super Eights level.

They are in a different space now and the championship is opening up for them.

3
The band - the night they drove old Dixie down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jREUrbGGrgM

Very powerful anti war song

4
GAA Discussion / Re: Ros v Galway Connacht Final 2019
« on: June 16, 2019, 05:46:46 PM »
Well done the Rossies
Huge improvement after the collapse of the previous regime.

Galway taken out 2 days in a row by Galway managers.

5
Hurling Discussion / Re: Hurling Championship 2019
« on: June 15, 2019, 08:47:41 PM »
Galway gone!

They were poor enough overall this year. Couldn’t hurl consistently. Poor points difference .
Maybe a break and a new manager is what they need .

6
4 points down at half time but it’s not about this match


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/hurling/fateful-day-dawns-for-the-faithful-county-hurlers-1.3819382%3fmode=amp

“When the college in Birr started to slip, we should have asked why.

We last appeared in a Leinster minor final in 2003 and under-21 in 2007/8. Because clubs like Birr and Killoughey and St Rynagh’s were doing so well, it masked underlying problems. It is easy to be wise in hindsight but Birr Community School began to fade in around the time Brother Denis [Minehane] * retired.

“There was no succession planning. And that is my fault and the fault of others in south Offaly clubs that we almost left it to Brother Denis and other teachers in Birr Community School to do what we should have been done. They were the providers of the majority of the players on teams. When that started to slip, so did Offaly hurling.”

8
General discussion / Re: Brexit.
« on: June 15, 2019, 02:27:25 PM »

George Freeman MP

« Age is now the dividing line in politics. And the ⁦
‪@Conservatives‬
 Party is⁩ the wrong side of it:

51 is the new tipping point: Labour dominate below

support <25 now at 10

If this isn’t tackled, fast, the Party will die w its support base »


Politico how the UK lost the Brexit battle

https://www.politico.eu/article/how-uk-lost-brexit-eu-negotiation/

9
GAA Discussion / Re: Ros v Galway Connacht Final 2019
« on: June 15, 2019, 07:03:43 AM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/galway-have-good-reason-to-be-wary-of-unyielding-roscommon-1.3925963?mode=amp

Galway have good reason to be wary of unyielding Roscommon
History shows the Rossies can never be taken for granted in the
 
Keith Duggan
 
     
It would be a mistake to describe Roscommon as the fly in the ointment. They have too much hauteur – those back-to-back wartime All-Irelands, those gilded clubs teams, those 23 provincial titles – to be considered mere upstarts.

But they do delight in tripping up the landlord counties of Mayo and Galway. They delight in bucking history and supposition. This year’s primrose vintage have already derailed Mayo’s best chance of progress to an All-Ireland final. Sacking Galway in Salthill would make for a memorable June.

“Galway are raging favourites,” says John Tobin by way of caution. “The same as they were two years ago.”

If you want to remember the full heat of the provincial championships, go back to the day in 2001 when Tobin brought his Roscommon team into Tuam Stadium. It was another one of those Galway-Roscommon occasions when a maroon win was preordained.

Instead, the visitors delivered a 2-12 to 0-14 performance which had a silencing effect across the land. It was the first year of the new qualifier system and technically, Galway’s summer was still alive. But it didn’t feel like that to anyone on the afternoon of June 3rd.

John O’Mahony: the then Galway manager’s voice cracked with emotion on the television interview after his side had beaten Roscommon in a replayed Connacht final in 1998. They went on to win the All-Ireland, beating Kildare in the final. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
John O’Mahony: the then Galway manager’s voice cracked with emotion on the television interview after his side had beaten Roscommon in a replayed Connacht final in 1998. They went on to win the All-Ireland, beating Kildare in the final. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Or if you want to understand the power of emotion and the significance of provincial wins, then flash back three years earlier to 1998 and to the few minutes when Galway have edged Roscommon after a replay – and after extra time – to provoke a pitch invasion of ecstatic fans. Hear John O’Mahony’s voice crack with emotion on the television interview and try to imagine, in that moment, a future in which the provincial system would be deemed defunct and pointless.


That replay took place as late as August 2nd: all summer, ‘getting out’ of Connacht had been the driving ambition. Or if you want to return to the scenario in which winning a Connacht title could feel like a moment of liberation, then revisit the circumstances in which Roscommon won the 1990 version.

Beaten in 1988 by Mayo in the Connacht final. Beaten again by Mayo in 1989 – after extra time – and watching then as Mayo did something strange by threatening to win the All-Ireland itself. In 1990, Roscommon put their hands up again.

“This was the third year in a row and there was a lot of pressure on,” remembers Martin McDermott, who managed the team through a spell of six consecutive Connacht final appearances,

“It was really time to deliver for the players and myself. And I could feel that tension in the players because they knew to lose three Connacht finals in a row would not be pleasant for them or the supporters. Fergal O’Neill, Galway’s corner forward, from memory, was deemed to be in the square and had a goal disallowed. We were tentative. It was only in the second half that we relaxed a little bit.”

Those games are the primary colours with which Roscommon’s role in the west of Ireland scene become identifiable. Few counties have had such a rigidly difficult task – particularly in the 100-odd years of knock-out football – as the Primrose. John Tobin can laugh now when he is asked where that coup in 2001 sits in a lengthy reel of personal achievements.

Different thing

“It was bittersweet. I am from Tuam, like. I think I managed Galway on three occasions and managed a minor team to win an All-Ireland and the U-21s for over 30 years. But people always refer to me as the Roscommon manager. It is funny. It’s intriguing. You just fortify yourself. Anyone who goes into management has a moral responsibility to get them to optimise their collective potential and realize the dream. You know? It is a dream. You appreciate that privilege because of the contribution of those fellas to the county. It is fantastic. But beating your own county on your own patch . . . is a different thing altogether.”

The irony was pronounced that day: Tobin, Tuam bred, ran the line for Roscommon while O’Mahony, from Ballaghaderreen, managed Galway. It was a match in which Galway played an inhibited game by their expansive standards while Roscommon just hit song. Eddie Lohan scored 0-8, Frankie Dolan hit two goals and a teenage Seamie O’Neill was rampant at midfield.

“I kind of knew the potential he had so from a long way out we wrapped him in cotton wool,” Tobin says of O’Neill.

Roscommon’s Séamus O’Neill celebrates his side’s win over Galway in the 2001 Connacht semi-final at Tuam. Photograph: Damien Eagers/Sportsfile
Roscommon’s Séamus O’Neill celebrates his side’s win over Galway in the 2001 Connacht semi-final at Tuam. Photograph: Damien Eagers/Sportsfile
“We kind of put him away for a while and didn’t play him in a lot of league games because he was young and immature but we knew his potential. And again, it depends on the person, but Séamus has a strong personality and young fellas sometimes have no inhibitions. It doesn’t faze them that they are walking a star. And Kevin [Waslh] and Seán Ó Domhnaill were outstanding midfielders.”

Galway’s tentative behaviour in that game was all too human. There is an easily believable alternative GAA history in which 1998, Galway’s flaming All-Ireland year, never happened. It would have been a shame, not least because Pat Comer, the Galway substitute goalkeeper and film-maker was making A Year Til Sunday that summer and might well have scrapped the project had the team been dumped in the Connacht final.


And fate could easily have turned things that way. The teams drew 0-11 apiece in a taut first game in Tuam.

“I don’t know if it had something to do with the noise of the crowd,” said Gay Sheerin, the Roscommon manager, afterwards.

“I’m playing a long time and haven’t experienced anything like that. When we ran out, the din was unbelievable.”

There’s a scene in Comer’s film in which O’Mahony challenges the Galway players to shed the disparaging tags that followed them during that period – a ‘nice’ team; a team of ‘Fancy Dans’.

Constant battle

The trouble was, they knew that Roscommon would not be for backing down. So it went: a riveting, draining replay which stretched into extra time and hinged on a Michael Donnellan goal which came down to bad luck more than anything else. The event became, for Roscommon football, one of those summers when they almost stamped out their neighbours only to then see them ascend and ascend into a football place that no west of Ireland team had reached in over 30 years.

It’s not that difficult to forward the theory that the main obstacle to Roscommon’s progression is geographical; penned into Connacht means that they have to produce exceptional teams in order to overcome both Galway and Mayo. Conquer one and usually, the other is waiting. Roscommon are like the kid brother who charges into the older, stronger siblings without fear or consideration for his own safety or welfare.

Anthony Cunningham: The former Galway and Dublin hurling boss has led Roscommon to victory over Mayo and into another Connacht final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Anthony Cunningham: The former Galway and Dublin hurling boss has led Roscommon to victory over Mayo and into another Connacht final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
“ Size, yeah,” says Martin McDermott.

“We pick from a population that is a third the size of Mayo and less than a quarter than that of Galway. I do genuinely think we pull above our weight. It is a constant battle. And we don’t fear it but it is a big step because we do not have that depth of numbers. As someone once said, the more milk you have, the more cream you have.”

It is easily forgotten how close McDermott’s Roscommon team came to making it to an All-Ireland final. In 1991, they successfully defended their Connacht title –again after a replay made possible by a stupendous, 60-metre free by Derek Duggan in the last minute of the first game. In the All-Ireland semi-final they made all the running against a gnarled Meath team until the closing quarter, when the Royals began to knock over points and feed on the finish-line nerves of the newcomers to edge it by a point.

“We led for most of the game and were most unfortunate to lose by one point. The McManus’s, Killoran, Newton, Earley: all household names at the time. And we came very close and probably should have beaten Meath on the day. They were probably a little tired but they had that quality, stickability.”

In 2001, John Tobin’s team capitalised on that sacking in Tuam by beating Mayo in the Connacht final. Their reward was dubious. A quarter-final draw put them back where they started, facing Galway, this time in Castlebar.

“Yes. And therein lies a question: what is the championship? This was a David and Goliath situation,” Tobin points out.

Fighting spirit

“ On a given day, you can get any result. It was a fairytale. But then you are after winning and find yourself back at the same place and you question yourself. So you are always wondering what was going on in our fellas’ minds, as much as you try to create the environment that makes it attractive. Plus, we had won the Connacht championship for the first time in a few years. Sometimes success can be difficult to handle. You are on a high but you have to back to the coal face again.”


But they never go away. Two years ago, Roscommon came into Salthill to play Galway in a Connacht final. They were managed by Kevin McStay, who had tormented them in a previous life as an elusive corner forward with Mayo. All reliable data pointed to a Galway win. It made no difference.

Galway’s Joe Bergin in action against Roscommon’s John Hanley during the 2001 Connacht semi-final at Tuam. Photograph: Damien Eagers/Sportsfile
Galway’s Joe Bergin in action against Roscommon’s John Hanley during the 2001 Connacht semi-final at Tuam. Photograph: Damien Eagers/Sportsfile
“I will be the first to put my hand up and say I got it wrong,” says Tobin.

“ I really thought Galway would win that game. But then, going back to my own time in playing them, all through the 1970s, Roscommon have this combination of perseverance, resilience, a fighting spirit and they were always difficult to beat.”

That historical fact carries into Sunday’s latest chapter in Salthill. It’s all circular. Val Daly, who scored 0-8 in that 1990 final, has two sons playing for Galway tomorrow. Seamus Killoran was midfield that day; his son Shane occupies the same position tomorrow. Galway are expected to win just as Mayo were expected to win a few weeks ago.

“The situation is very similar to what happened two years ago except it must be foremost in the minds of the Galway management and players,” says John Tobin. “They have been forewarned.”

Even so, they know what’s coming if it’s Roscommon: volatile and unpredictable and unyielding to the last.

10
General discussion / Re: Paddy Jackson apology
« on: June 15, 2019, 06:35:37 AM »
They cynic would see this as opportunist by Diageo. There has been a push back in the UK and indeed Europe over alcohol sponsorship in sport, club rugby is near the bottom when it comes to sport sponsorship anyway. What Diageo would pay to be official beer of London Irish would be peanuts in relative sporting partnership terms. They refused to even meet London Irish, so to me opportunistic and having seen the cause of alcohol addiction within my own extended family Diageo have no moral high ground. Diageo are simply exploiting a rape case for their own benefit.
That's a dubious statement which calls into question the perceptiveness of the cynic which swallows anything London Irish pour out.
Diageo state clearly that they had met with LI before making their announcement and another meeting is arranged.

I'd opine that all betting and drink sponsorship be banned from sport.

Ok, so Diageo said they met, that must be true so. Do you know the context of the meeting? Are you privy to the agenda and the minutes?

Quote
On Thursday, a London Irish spokesman said the club’s management was “understandably disappointed” by Diageo’s decision – “particularly the manner in which the company has chosen” not to renew its sponsorship deal.

“The club has always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion. London Irish has been open and honest with all of its sponsors, including offering to meet Diageo’s senior management in Dublin in May, 2019. This offer was not taken up.

Sounds really dubious  ::)

Having spent most of my working life working for corporations I still can't believe people swallow corporate BS. Maybe confirmation bias has a role.

And absolutely all drink and in particularly betting sponsorship should be banned.

Global sales of alcohol fell by 1.6% last year. Diageo have enough shit to deal with without
adding Paddy Jackson as a chaser

Plus

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/paddy-whiskey-reviewing-its-partnership-with-london-irish-amid-paddy-jackson-deal-1.3926265

11
Hurling Discussion / Re: Hurling Championship 2019
« on: June 14, 2019, 11:02:17 AM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/hurling/jackie-tyrrell-battle-lines-drawn-ahead-of-hurling-s-d-day-1.3924777

Jackie Tyrrell: Battle lines drawn ahead of hurling’s D-Day
Kilkenny under no illusions about scale of the challenge facing them at Wexford Park

 Wexford versus  Kilkenny in 2017  – Wexford Park is without doubt the most hostile environment I have ever played in. The Wexford fans have the ability to create a real noise level, an eerie vibe to the place. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Wexford versus Kilkenny in 2017 – Wexford Park is without doubt the most hostile environment I have ever played in. The Wexford fans have the ability to create a real noise level, an eerie vibe to the place. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

There’s a bit of a World War II feel about the hurling championship, with battle being waged on two fronts – Eastern (Leinster) and Southern (Munster). If that’s the case, then we’re heading into D-Day this weekend, for the battles that will decide the direction the rest of the summer takes. Every game is important, none more so that when Kilkenny go to Wexford.

Wexford Park is without doubt the most hostile environment I have ever played in. The Wexford fans have the ability to create a real noise level, an eerie vibe to the place. There’s a tribal war feel to the stadium that makes you feel uneasy as soon as you set foot in the place.

It’s like they’re saying, ‘Hey, this is our house and we will protect it with everything we have’. Anytime I went there, I always felt like a young lad robbing an orchard, looking over your shoulder waiting for a farmer to chase you out the gate with a pocketful of apples. You never felt comfortable, you were always on edge.

Wexford dominated at Leinster under-21 level in the early and middle part of this decade and these players have filtered through to the senior ranks
I never liked going there. Normally, the only nice thing from days going to Wexford Park was the steak in the Ferrycarrig Hotel after the game. Beautiful county, great spot to visit, lovely people. But a brutal place to go and hurl.

We played down there in an under-21 Leinster final in 2001 and they beat us that day, 0-10 to 1-5. They sensed it from early on that there was blood to be got here – it was potentially a big scalp for them and like good assassins they took it. When the game finished, they ran through us like we didn’t exist – this is the supporters I’m talking about! They flooded the field after the final whistle and claimed it.


They had been down for a few years and had taken a few beatings from Kilkenny. This was payback. You could see the sense of relief in them as they let all that built-up hurt out and let a few of us know about it along the way. I admired that from them. It was not a pleasant place to go.

Which is exactly how it should be. Wexford supporters are one of the most passionate set of hurling fans I’ve witnessed. They make their voices heard and it takes very little for them to get excited. All you have to do is look at the Leinster final crowds over the past few years – 29,000 in 2016, then 60,000 in 2017 and back to 40,000 last year. No prizes for guessing which year Wexford were there.


But it has levelled out now. Wexford dominated at Leinster under-21 level in the early and middle part of this decade and these players have filtered through to the senior ranks. They’ve clawed Kilkenny back to the pack and have made this a really tight rivalry. The O’Connors, Liam Ryan, Conor McDonald and Lee Chin now make up such a strong backbone. They’ve grown up beating Kilkenny and there is no emotional hang-up in the fixture for them.

Clean possessions
More than that, they love it when Kilkenny come to town. The atmosphere down there on Saturday night will be buzzing because they know they have every chance of a win. Their mouths will be watering and it won’t be for the local strawberries – it will be the thoughts of getting their teeth into Kilkenny.

And there’s plenty for them to get their teeth into. I wrote here last week of the concerns about Kilkenny’s overreliance on TJ Reid and that holds even more weight after the Galway game. TJ has taken his game to a level that’s not even on planet Earth anymore. It’s only where the elite can survive.

When players of the calibre of Padraic Mannion and Gearóid McInerney can’t hinder TJs influence, then you know you’re operating at a different stratosphere. It reminded me of Henry Shefflin in the drawn 2012 All-Ireland final against Galway when he was in a place where nothing could curtail him. He was everywhere the action was and his influence over the game was unstoppable.

Leave aside his scoring figures, which are unprecedented obviously. Think about this on top of them – TJ caught nine clean possessions on Sunday. Nine! In a single game. You will see a lot of interesting stats and figures over this summer but I’m saying here and now that nine catches in a game will not be beaten or even threatened. I don’t think I caught nine balls in 14 years playing for Kilkenny.


There have been subtle changes to Wexford since they turned Kilkenny over down there in 2017. Shaun Murphy isn’t the sweeper any more – Kevin Foley is now the nominated spare man and he offers more forward-thinking ideas and options. They still do a lot of their attacking from deep rather than keeping men forward and getting the ball into them. But when they push forward at the correct times, picking scores and creating overlaps, they are dangerous.


Structurally, they like to push up man-on-man for puck outs, particularly when they play with the breeze at their back and are putting the squeeze on teams. Rory O’Connor has offered a real goal threat to an attack that, for all its honesty and work-rate, lacked that X factor. Liam Óg McGovern offers a different dynamic since he came back from his injury and he’s a quality finisher with real pace.

So how do they set about Kilkenny? Just like it was for Galway, TJ has to be the starting point for Davy Fitz and Wexford here. The big complicating factor is the availability of Walter Walsh. It’s no accident that TJ caught nine balls when Walter was sitting in the stand. On another day, with the pair of them there, Darren Brennan would have been aiming at least half his puck-outs at Wally.

When Kilkenny are in a corner and backs are to the wall, they go back to what they know best. Dogs of war hurling, fight for every inch
So if Brian Cody can get him on the pitch, he will. Wally’s physicality in the middle third as he drops into midfield is so important for Kilkenny. He fills pockets of space in front of the Kilkenny half-back line and offers them a security blanket. That’s before he does any attacking, which they need from him even more.

The reason he complicates things for Wexford is that anytime the teams meet, Matthew O’Hanlon picks him up. They are well matched physically and know each other well from their school days together. They more or less cancel each other out, getting into a wrestling match and hammering into each other like giants, taking blows that would level anyone else on the field and still coming back for more.

A conundrum
What’s important with this is that O’Hanlon generally picks up the opposition’s key forward, the bread winner who will win puck-outs, fight for scraps, get on breaking ball and give the team oxygen to breathe. The likes of Joe Canning of Galway, John Conlon, Séamus Harnedy are always on the menu for O’Hanlon.

But if Wally and TJ are both playing, it gives Davy a conundrum. What’s the best match-up? TJ is the main man but if O’Hanlon goes on him, what do they do with Wally? The only other Wexford defender with the height and physicality for the job is Liam Ryan but I can’t see Davy moving him out from the edge of the square. So Wexford are left with the same big question Galway faced last week – who has the defensive instincts, the pace and grit to try and stop TJ Reid?

Look at the Leinster final crowds over the past few years – 29,000 in 2016, then 60,000 in 2017 and back to 40,000 last year. No prizes for guessing which year Wexford were there. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

This is so nicely poised to be a belter – maybe not necessarily in quality but definitely in tension, atmosphere and drama. When Kilkenny are in a corner and backs are to the wall, they go back to what they know best. Dogs of war hurling, fight for every inch. There’ll be nothing mysterious getting off the Kilkenny bus in Wexford Park.

Wexford will match them but I just about see Kilkenny finding a way through. It’s D-Day for both and Wexford Park is Normandy. Let battle commence.

12
General discussion / Re: Paddy Jackson apology
« on: June 13, 2019, 05:41:35 PM »
https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/diageo-cancels-sponsorship-of-london-irish-over-plans-to-sign-paddy-jackson-1.3924921

Diageo, the owner of Guinness, has cancelled its sponsorship of London Irish Rugby Club due to the club’s plans to sign former Ulster and Ireland out half Paddy Jackson.

Mr Jackson was acquitted of rape by a Belfast court last year, alongside three other men who had been charged in relation to the incident, including for less serious offences. Stuart Olding, who was at the time also contracted to Ulster Rugby, was also acquitted of rape. Both men had their professional contracts cancelled in the wake of the acquittal.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Diageo said: “We have met with the club to express our concerns. Their recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship.”

13
Hurling Discussion / Re: Hurling Championship 2019
« on: June 13, 2019, 03:25:06 PM »
Canning is just too good not to make an impact however he plays, even fitness issues not withstanding. Absolute hurling system.

Reid is also superb, though I would maybe posit not quite as consistent as Canning. Was hot and cold in last year's c'ship a bit, didn't score from play in Salthill for e.g. His performance last Sunday was incredible, surely as good as he's given for KK.

They tried out a wide range of players during the League.
The reliance on the same players was a focus over the winter.

TJ is great as long as he doesn’t get injured. Galway have a better spread of scorers

Concannon and Loftus were minors in 2015 afaik.



Even if he was just taking frees..
The goals were very pleasing as was the performance of Concannon
A lot done. More to do.

Galway need fresh blood in the mix to keep them in contention.

Concannon has been there or thereabouts for a few years now. Needs to make the step up and consistently.

TJ is the best hurler out there at the minute IMO.

Early 20's then, should be ready to deliver then.

Other than Loftus and Concannon and the usual suspects like Davy Glennon, the Galway bench doesn't offer much thereafter in terms of new blood come championship.

There were a few new names in the league, but no gametime as yet.

2.2 GALWAY: C Callanan; D Morrissey, J Fitzpatrick, S Kilduff (0-2); G Lally, P Mannion, A Harte (0-1); J Coen (0-2), S Loftus (0-1); C Mannion (0-1), J Canning (0-10, eight frees), J Flynn; T Monaghan (0-2), B Concannon (0-1), D Glennon.
Subs: S Bleahene for Glennon (inj, 10 mins); S Linnane for Lally (h/t); R O’Meara for Monaghan (65).

16.2 GALWAY: 1 F Flannery, 2 J Grealish, 3 R Burke, 4 A Harte (0-1); 5 K Hussey, 6 P Mannion, 7 G McInerney; 8 C Mannion (0-4), 9 S Loftus (0-1); 10 N Burke (0-1), 11 J Canning (0-8 frees), 23 C Whelan (0-1); 12 S Bleahene (0-2), 15 D Glennon (0-1), 14 J Glynn (0-1).
Substitutes: 22 T Monaghan for D Glennon (56 mins inj), 19 P Killeen for 5 K Hussey (67 mins), 26 K Cooney for 14 J Flynn (69 mins), 21 S Kilduff for 9 S Loftus (72 mins), 24 J Mannion for 12 S Bleahene (72 mins).

23.2 GALWAY: J Skehill; S Linnane, P Killeen, D Morrissey; J Hanbury, G McInerney, J Fitzpatrick; S Loftus (0-1), S Kilduff (0-1); N Burke (0-1), B Concannon (1-1), K Cooney; C Whelan (1-2, one free), J Flynn (0-13, eight frees, four 65s), R O’Meara.

10.3 GALWAY: F Flannery; J Grealish, R Burke, A Harte; K Hussey, P Mannion, G McInerney; C Mannion, S Loftus; J Canning (0-7, six frees), C Whelan (0-2), N Burke (0-3); D Glennon, J Flynn (1-1), B Concannon (1-0).
Subs: S Bleahene for Flynn (53 mins), S Linnane for C Mannion (55 mins), P Killen for Grealish (64 mins), S Kilduff for Linnane (69 mins, inj), J Hanbury for Burke (73 mins).

12.5 Galway: C Callanan; J Grealish (0-1), R Burke, A Harte; P Mannion (0-1), G McInerney, K Hussey; C Mannion (0-3), D Burke (0-1); N Burke (0-6 0-6f), J Flynn (0-3), B Concannon (0-1); C Whelan (0-4), C Cooney (1-3), D Glennon (0-1). Subs: J Coen for Glennon (50 mins), Paul Killen for R Burke (54), J Hanbury for Hussey (54), S Loftus for Grealish (67). Yellow cards: C Mannion

2.6 GALWAY: 1 C Callanan; 5 P Mannion, 3 D Burke, 4 A Harte; 18 S Loftus, 6 G McInerney, 24 J Cooney; 8 J Coen, 9 D Burke (0-1); 10 C Mannion (0-1), 11 N Burke (0-4, three frees, one 65), 12 J Flynn (0-6, three frees, one 65), 14 C Cooney (0-1), 13 C Whelan (0-3), 15 B Concannon.
Subs: 25 J Glynn for 11 N Burke (42 mins), 7 J Hussey for 8 J Coen (51), 21 J Hanbury for 24 J Cooney (60), 23 D Glennon for 15 B Concannon (66).


9.6 GALWAY: 1. C Callanan; 4. A Harte, 3. Daithí Burke, 2. J Hanbury; 5. P Mannion, 6. G McInerney, 7. J Cooney; 8. S Loftus, 9. David Burke (0-1); 12. A Tuohey (0-2), 11. J Glynn (0-1), 10. C Mannion (0-8, one free); 13. C Whelan (1-2), 14. J Flynn (0-3, two frees), 15. B Concannon (1-2).
Subs: 21. J Coen (1-1) for Loftus (half-time), 23. D Glennon for Tuohey (59 mins), 24. N Burke for Concannon (64 mins).

15
If we are to win it will be on a score line like 4-10 to 0-20 or something unusual like that but it would go against all form we’ve seen to date from both teams.

To be honest if we could have a game as close as we did in 2012 or 2013 I’d be reasonably happy with it but with that must come the expectation that next year we’ll be closer again.

That process happened to Galway in the mid 2010s. They got hammered by Mayo in 2013 by 13 points and spent the next while reducing the deficit until they started beating Mayo
But the Dubs are even more of a challenge

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