Irish Examiner Cork-Galway 22 July 2009

September 25, 2009

Battle weary Galway march on while keyboard warriors revel in Rebel defeat

Michael Moynihan

KEYBOARD warriors and computer hurlers everywhere were clearly delighted by the Cork hurlers’ defeat by Galway on Saturday night.

Going by the evidence in various chatrooms and fora over the last couple of days, it’s obvious that many observers were waiting patiently for Cork to crash out of the championship to have a tap-dance on the grave of their All-Ireland ambitions.

What we’re more concerned with here is whether last Saturday’s game says about the hurling championship this year and “going” “forward”, as we don’t really like to put it.

Galway were clearly the story of the hurling weekend, for several different reasons. Although he didn’t juggle three flaming torches or call down lightning from the sky, Joe Canning’s performance was awesome, for one reason in particular.

He confirmed that with reasonable weather conditions, if his opponents concede a free outside the Galway 45-metre line then they’ve conceded a bona fide scoring opportunity.

They used to say about quarter-back Joe Namath that when he was so good in college he tilted the field: his ability gave the impression that his side was playing downhill in both halves. Canning’s consistent accuracy from distances which are at the very outside edge of most players’ accuracy constitutes a similar advantage for Galway.

A word to the wise, however – it can only be a matter of time before someone directly involved in an inter-county game points out that Canning’s amble out from full-forward will have to be speeded up.

If, on average, Galway send their number 14 to the region of the half-way line seven or eight times a game for frees and sideline cuts, and he takes his sweet time making the journey, then an average of 30 seconds for stroll, placement and settling before striking could amount to four minutes’ playing time.

Expect a cranky manager or selector to make that point to the referee some time soon, followed by the enforcement of a rugby-type limit on the amount of time allowed to take a free.

Time is also a factor when you consider Galway now face Waterford, a third top-tier side three weeks in-a-row, following their games with Clare and Cork. Galway boss John McIntyre wasn’t about to complain last Saturday evening in Thurles, but Cork boss Denis Walsh pointed out the huge intensity Galway required to get this far – and which needs to be rediscovered within a week to face Waterford.

Surely a better system could be found rather than flogging teams for three consecutive weeks; Galway have lost Adrian Cullinane and Shane Kavanagh in their two last games to injury, and while those players may not be missing because the matches have come so close together, having a week between outings cuts down on recovery and increases the chances of a player missing out.

There’s surely a will among those arranging fixtures to give teams a chance. If there’s a will to allow Croke Park to be dug up for U2, there’s surely a will to help players out.


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