Former Galway manager Mattie Murphy has taken Ger Loughnane to task for calling the county’s hurlers “gutless” after the Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny.
Ex-Clare and Galway boss Loughnane was scathing in his analysis of the Tribesmen’s second-half performance. Murphy had issues with it himself but wouldn’t have dared go as far as questioning the character of the players.
“If you were to get upset every time Ger opened his mouth, you’d be upset the whole time,” said Murphy.
“He had the gig and didn’t do much with it. If you look back on his record here, he came in with huge promises and he went out with a whimper.
“It’s very easy to be up there in your ivory tower in RTÉ and proclaiming all these things. He had plenty of chances to do things with Galway and it wouldn’t be high in his CV list.”
Murphy found plenty wrong with Galway’s display in Croke Park earlier this month but is more constructive in his criticism of the team as they prepare to face Clare this Sunday.
For one, he believes Joe Canning has to be situated around the middle of the field to not only be more of an influence but help out an area where Galway were found wanting against Kilkenny.
“It looks like the modern game is all about double-marking the danger-man but it’s not easy to double-mark him if he’s further out the field. I’d be more in favour of playing him either at 11 or in midfield. At club level, he does untold damage around the middle of the field. He’ll score as much out there from general play as he would inside and it would free him up.
“We have people who are capable of playing inside. Conor Cooney and Joseph Cooney can do a job in there. We lost the middle third the last day against Kilkenny. Nobody seemed to function in it. Davy Burke had a good first half there but a lot of the ball he got onto was inside his own 70 and more or less in front of our half-back line. We need to strengthen our centre-field and Joe can do that.
“But I would like to see Joe take things on more. The last day, you’d have been hoping if Joe got a 21-yard-free he’d back himself to score it. I was disappointed not to see him take it on. If he was playing with Portumna, he wouldn’t look to the dugout for guidance.”
Murphy doesn’t know whether Galway’s good first half was a product of their own play or a below-par period from Kilkenny.
“The bottom line is Kilkenny didn’t perform at all and we could and should have been up by five or six points.
“Typical of Kilkenny, they came out and were much more focused and organised but we didn’t win our own puck-outs even though we have three or four big fellas around the half-forward line.
“I understand man-marking on a line but when you switch lines to do it, there’s an issue. Dragging Daithí Burke our of centre-back left a big hole there and Richie Hogan exploited it big time.”
The Gort man anticipates Clare will score “around 24 or 25 points”, meaning Galway may need goals.
“You wouldn’t see Clare scoring three or four goals. They have enough shooters out the field for points — Tony Kelly, Podge Collins will put over three and four, Colm Galvin and if Conor McGrath is fit he can too.
“We’re going to have to manufacture a goal or two. I can’t see our forwards having the kind of pace to make runs at goal. We have strong fellas but they won’t destroy you for pace and breaking from centre-field we don’t have burning pace either so they’re going to have to find another way.”
Meanwhile, Clare forward McGrath is expected to be included in Clare’s 26-man matchday panel having come through a training match last Sunday. The Cratloe man has been out of action since the Munster semi-final defeat to Waterford with a virus but has come into the reckoning following the qualifier win over Limerick.
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