Thursday 19 October 2017

More games the merrier for Moore

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Galway's participation in the Leinster hurling championship has been a massive boost for the province.

But has there been 'quid pro quo' to the arrangement now entering a fourth year?

Everything every other county team of the current generation does must be qualified by the fact that they are in the presence of the greatest ever hurling team.

But even with that qualification, Galway will be disappointed with how they have fared in Leinster and beyond during the course of the initial three-year experiment.

Their best effort was the first year when they put serious pressure on Kilkenny, who only assumed control in the second half thanks to an inspiring performance in Tullamore from Eoin Larkin.

But since then, it has all been progressively downhill at provincial level, with defeat in the 2010 final and an early exit in last year's championship against Dublin.

There is a further two years to run for the arrangement before it is reviewed again, but Galway hurling captain Fergal Moore is adamant that there can be no going back.

"There are no drawbacks from a players' point of view. You want to play as many games as you can as early in the year as you can and for us we used to watch the championship unfold ourselves before we got a game at the end of June or July.

"It was very hard to play seasoned teams that had a couple of games under their belts.

"It's huge for us to get early matches and they are big matches against the big teams. I think it is only good for Galway hurling. It's hard to argue with our record at U-21 and minor level over the last few years for sure, but they are one-off games."

Moore doesn't dispute, however, that if Galway are to continue in Leinster beyond 2013 then a home and away arrangement with Leinster counties will have to be part of any new deal.

"From the Galway side of things, you have to look at the fact that we are constantly travelling to Leinster to the matches. We contribute a lot to Leinster, but then we don't get a whole lot back in return.

"If you look at it from an economic point of view, it doesn't bring a whole lot back to Connacht," said Moore, who has been a Galway senior since 2004.

"Every one would probably like to see more matches back in Galway but from a players' point of view, we don't worry about those things, we're delighted to get early matches."

Galway play Westmeath in Mullingar in their opening Leinster match for the second successive season. It was in the corresponding fixture last season where deficiencies in Galway's aerial ability were highlighted as the home side gave them a stern test.

Moore admits it can be frustrating that there never seems to be any middle ground for a Galway hurling team, that there's either a feast of optimism surrounding them or a famine of it.

"It's a media thing and a Galway thing. If we win a couple of games, it's a new dawn. But, after the Kilkenny game in Nowlan Park, we were finished and down in Division 2. That's the way people talk.

"When you win a match, you are never as good as people say you are and when you lose, you're never as bad either. We're somewhere in between. We saw the benchmark with the All-Ireland champions in the league final. We saw them last September."

Still, he cautions that "no cup has been given out just".

beating

The second half of their relegation replay against Dublin highlighted just how good Galway can be, but the beating by Kilkenny is never far from the memory.

"It was very disappointing that day. We had a young team. A lot of them wouldn't have met the level of intensity that they met in Nowlan Park.

"The biggest difference is that any little mistake you make against Kilkenny is punished more than it is against any other teams.

"But beating Dublin in the manner that they did to stay in Division 1A in 2013 has restored belief that they can develop. It's important to build from that. In terms of performance, it was important to finish the league on that note against Dublin."

Elsewhere, one of Donegal's most passionate hurling men, Danny Cullen Snr, has been hit with a 48-week ban for allegedly bringing the game into disrepute.

Cullen, secretary of Setanta hurling club, has been suspended over a protest he made during an in-camera sitting of last month's county board meeting.

Setanta are involved in a protracted row with their local board over unpaid levies and it has refused to affiliate the club for 2012.

Setanta appealed this decision to Croke Park earlier this week but it was upheld.

Irish Independent

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