Saturday 24 August 2019

Brendan Cummins: 'Limp Tribe attack show just how much they are missing talisman Canning'


Injured Galway star Joe Canning going through is paces on the pitch prior to the clash with Wexford. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Injured Galway star Joe Canning going through is paces on the pitch prior to the clash with Wexford. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Brendan Cummins

Let's start with a positive, because right now there are not many to be found among this Galway team. The one thing no one can say, at least, is that they're peaking too soon.

Quite the opposite. This time last year they hammered Wexford by nine, Kilkenny by eight, and were looking every bit the two-time champions in waiting.

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But now it's not Croke Park they can think about - it's Nowlan Park, Parnell Park, venues where they could find their season hanging by a thread.

They were scrappy yesterday, so often looking like they didn't know what to do in possession. There was no composure in anything they did - it was all frantic.

Above all, they need to sort out their half-forward line. When Galway were at their very best Joseph Cooney was wing-forward, Joe Canning was centre-forward and the other wing didn't make a massive difference because you always had two options on the puck-out.

At the moment, I don't see anybody in their half-forward line who they can count on to win a puck-out. As a result, they're struggling to get an anchor in the game.


They won't do it with Jason Flynn - that much was clear yesterday. For me, he isn't a wing-forward to have under high balls in Salthill, but he may be one to have picking up breaking balls in Croke Park.

Cathal Mannion won't do it either - he was completely isolated on the wing yesterday, like a guy sitting at the net in a tennis match watching the ball go back and forth over his head.

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I couldn't understand why they moved him from midfield, where he is so effective at sweeping up ball, showing composure and feeding ball inside.

Galway and Wexford struggled in that crucial middle third yesterday, neither able to work the short puck-outs and run the ball through the lines.

The first four or five puck-outs for Wexford went pear-shaped so they reverted to route one, hoping to pick up the breaks.

But Galway didn't do a good job of boxing off puck-outs. Normally you'd tell 12 to be under the ball, eight would stay infield, five stays down the field and then the sideline acts as your third defender, but Galway didn't box off properly so when Wexford broke forward, they were always straight on the attack.

In the second half, David Burke got in the game more because of the wind, but Galway failed to utilise him properly.

He was wide open on numerous occasions but whether it was John Hanbury or Jason Flynn, they didn't get their head up and pass it to him. Like I said, frantic.

It was in contrast to how Cork and Tipperary played - with composure, holding the ball for that extra second in possession.

Galway have a shortage of firepower at the moment, though before we write any obituaries it's worth remembering Joseph Cooney is only just back, Johnny Glynn hadn't played a match yet and Canning is still waiting to return. They need him back badly - free-taking is a huge problem.

Niall Burke was unable to make any real impact yesterday, Flynn was in and out, while Brian Concannon should have been taken off a lot sooner - he wasn't in the game at all.

Galway had decided Sean Loftus would be the sweeper yesterday but when Cathal Mannion came deep to pick up the ball they were left with two sweepers, which created a spoiling game - exactly what Davy Fitz would have wanted.

Wexford should really have won it, only for Cathal Dunbar fluffing his effort into the ground instead of carrying it and sticking it in the roof of the net - the point would have been enough if it deflected over.

But the draw creates a dicey situation now. In fairness to Davy, his team responded to criticism and kicked on - Wexford will beat Carlow and have four points and if Dublin beat them too, it means Galway will go to Nowlan Park needing to get something - something no team wants to do.

Galway are living on the edge right now and need changes - fast - to be the team we know they can be.

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