Tuesday 22 May 2018

John Mullane: Galway can win the big one

Tribesmen's demolition job on Cork sets them up nicely for semi-final clash with Tipperary

Galway's man-of-the-match Johnny Glynn surges away from Mark Ellis during yesterday's victory against Cork STEPHEN MCCARTHY/SPORTSFILE
Galway's man-of-the-match Johnny Glynn surges away from Mark Ellis during yesterday's victory against Cork STEPHEN MCCARTHY/SPORTSFILE

John Mullane

That performance just sums up Galway to a tee. They’re the only team that could come with a display like that on the back of losing a Leinster final.

They were superb and Jonathan Glynn’s barnstorming efforts typified what they were all about.

There was a three-minute spell in the second half when he was like a human wrecking ball.

I watched him drive Cork’s Lorcán McLoughlin over the sideline with a hard, but fair, shoulder and a couple of minutes later, he was deep in his own half to do a similar job on Daniel Kearney.

It was primal stuff from the Tribesmen and sets them up lovely for a crack at Tipperary on August 16.

Galway overpowered and bullied Cork in Thurles yesterday. You could see the difference in the physical make-ups of the two teams even in the warm-up. It was men against boys.

Johnny Coen spoke about that physical presence after the game and David Collins referenced the belief in their camp.


Coen was also preaching calm, pointing out that this was just a quarter-final and that Galway will drive on from here.

Cork never looked like scoring a goal and that was testament to Galway’s defensive solidity.

At the other end, they were fluid and dangerous. Tipperary, in their Munster final victory over Waterford, showed how you can break down the sweeper system in two pivotal spells.

In the first 15 minutes and the final 15, Tipp’s movement up front was crucial and yesterday Galway were at it for 70 minutes.

I couldn’t believe how good their movement was. Their forwards didn’t stay in the one position and there was one stage where Glynn was in full-forward and Joe Canning moved out to the half-forward line.

This constant interchanging had Cork at sixes and sevens and helped to snuff out the influence of their sweeper Mark Ellis.

So you can beat the sweeper by constantly moving, as Galway showed.

I heard criticism of Joe’s performance after the game. He had nine wides but on another day he could have had seven or eight points from play.

Overall, 2-28 scored and 23 wides is quite remarkable. That’s 53 scoring chances created and if they can sharpen up on their shooting for the Tipperary game, they’re going to pose enormous problems.

They could score 2-24 in the semi-final and while Anthony Cunningham believes Galway have to improve, it won’t have to be by much to be really competitive.

A little bit more than what they brought to the table yesterday could well be good enough.

The big question now is can they deliver again? I think they can because we wondered if Cathal Mannion and Jason Flynn could step up to the mark and give Joe a hand out.

Mannion scored seven from play, Flynn three and with Joe’s point thrown into the mix, that’s a return of 11 points from play from the full-forward line.

Galway rarely looked troubled but after Damien Cahalane’s sending-off, Cork decided to up the tempo and hurl. There was a brief spell where the crowd started to get involved and Cork had a bit more energy about them.

Then there was a mistake from Ellis, punished by Mannion for a point, and Flynn put over an unbelievable score from the touchline to give Galway breathing space again.

Conor Whelan is also deserving of a mention following his debut, which yielded 1-2.

I’ve watched this guy at minor level for the last two years and was impressed. Credit to Cunningham for having the balls to pick him. It was a move that worked out.

Their midfield pair of Andy Smith and David Burke dovetailed superbly and Galway will really believe that they can go all the way now.

That movement I’ve already described will pose problems for any team but it was movement lacking from them in the Leinster final.


Cork will ask questions about themselves and wonder how Glynn was let in so easily for that first goal. It set the tone for Galway from the off and Glynn finished as a deserving man of the match.

He’s a beast of a man, an imposing physical specimen and Cork had no player in his league.

From Cork’s point of view, there were few positives but Brian Murphy deserves a mention – he kept trying right to the end. Seamus Harnedy was decent and in flashes, Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane showed what they’re all about.

But I was in the crowd yesterday and could sense and notice the anger among Cork supporters.

I really got the feeling that they are fed up with this team.

I wouldn’t point the finger of blame at Jimmy Barry-Murphy either. I really do believe he’s done a good job with the Rebels over the last four years.

His hands have been tied in ways. Other counties have young talent to call upon, players ready to step up to the senior ranks, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with Cork.

I referenced some up-and-coming players in a previous column but Cork’s U-21 championship exit was another setback.

Perhaps there’s not as much talent coming through as I first thought – and that’s a big worry.

New faces must fit in Kerry and Offaly to ensure progress

Each Championship summer will inevitably result in managerial casualties and both Kerry and Offaly are on the hunt for new men to take their teams forward.

Eamonn Kelly’s decision to vacate the Kerry post is a blow but after guiding them to the Liam MacCarthy Cup series next year, he probably feels there’s no better time to bow out.

There is some speculation linking Kelly with a switch to Offaly and after making serious inroads with Kerry in a short space of time, I’m sure his work hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere.

If he can do it with Kerry, there’s no reason why he couldn’t bring Offaly up to the levels required.

I was disappointed to see Brian Whelahan vacate the Offaly post.

He was a supremely-talented player and you won’t find too many men more passionate about Offaly hurling.

It was a hard time for him in charge, he took a few hard hits along the way but Offaly’s problems don’t lie at his door.

Opportunity knocks for Waterford against Cats

Waterford will view August 9 as their best chance of beating Kilkenny since the 2004 All-Ireland semi-final defeat.

Yesterday’s quarter-final against Dublin was a potential banana skin for Waterford but they didn’t slip and now they will present the banana skin for Kilkenny.

You’ll see a huge Waterford crowd descending on Jones’ Road and we can travel to Dublin with optimism.

Derek McGrath referred to a little tweak in his system after the game and I think I know what it was.

Colin Dunford operated inside alongside Maurice Shanahan and, with Darragh Fives back in the team, that allowed Austin Gleeson to play as a third midfielder.

It worked a treat and Waterford were totally dominant at midfield when they got on top, with Kevin Moran and Jamie Barron doing well.

A little further forward, I thought ‘Brick’ Walsh was colossal, winning frees and setting up scores.

Shane Bennett was excellent too on his first full start and Maurice continues to show great leadership.

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