Weekend talking points
Éamonn Fitzmaurice shipped some criticism last week when he reintroduced Paul Geaney against Monaghan after a disappointing initial foray for the Dingle man.
However, both teams were at it in Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final, with Shane O’Donnell for Clare and Joe and Conor Cooney reintroduced during extra-time.
Whatever about O’Donnell’s reappearance, that the All-Ireland champions felt it necessary to give two of their starters a second chance didn’t reflect well on the resources at their disposal.
Obviously, there were some mitigating circumstances when they had lost four All Stars to fatigue or injury but it didn’t say a whole lot about the manager’s faith in the rest of the Galway substitutes.
The problem for Micheál Donoghue now is he might have to look towards them if Gearóid McInerney, Joe Canning, and Conor Whelan are not able to contribute to the cause in Thurles on Sunday.
Why were those people streaming out of Croke Park at full-time last Saturday evening? Could it have something to do with the ingrained ‘another day out’ philosophy of the GAA?
Many thanks to the person who texted me at full-time (of normal time) on Saturday to alert me to this phenomenon.
Yes, it was written in the programme that there’d be extra time, but such is the power of years of seeing draws which lead to replays.
Nobody could actually believe there’d be another 20 minutes on the evening.
It wasn’t the only case of giving in to natural instincts, either. Before the game I saw a Kilkenny fan, head to toe in black and amber, among the Galway and Clare fans.
Someone asked him what he was doing there, and he said the car had just driven itself north for the semi-final, as it was used to doing for so many years.
Scoring a crucial goal for his county deep into extra-time of an All-Ireland semi-final would have been the last thing on Aron Shanagher’s mind when he tore cruciate ligaments in his knee last year.
The injury occurred shortly before Clare made for the Fenway Classic event in Boston, adding to Banner woes on the back of other losses to retirement and travels.
Brendan Bugler and Patrick Donnellan had called time on their inter-county careers while Aaron Cunningham and Cian Dillon had given notice of a desire to wander through foreign fields.
Word was Shanagher would be out for the season to come.
The goal he managed in his comeback on Saturday — catching, turning, and firing home from a long ball in — demonstrated just what Clare have missed in his absence, regardless of John Conlon‘s excellence on the edge of the box.
“It is pretty amazing,” said joint Clare manager Donal Moloney.
“As cruciate ligament injury recoveries go, it is pretty incredible and that was one of his trademarks in terms of that catch and turn and bang. He is a very driven young man.”
Much has been made — and rightly so — of Galway’s wides tally, particularly the dozen first-half shots which sailed right and left of Dónal Tuohy’s posts.
But what about the multitude of goals chances Micheál Donoghue’s charges created and failed to put away? Those misses were just as crucial as the county’s final wides tally of 22.
It’s been well documented that Galway failed to raise a green flag in four of their five games en route to the summit last year and while they put five past Offaly in the opening game of this year’s edition, they managed just three goals in their remaining five Leinster championship outings.
Here, their goal tally should have been far higher than one.
On 12 minutes, Johnny Glynn fielded a Joe Canning delivery, threw possession across the large rectangle to an unmarked Cathal Mannion, but the Ahascragh/Fohenagh forward was unable to gather at the first time of asking. The move ended with Mannion tapping over.
On 43 minutes, there was Conor Cooney’s shot which the Banner keeper repelled. There was the Johnny Coen opportunity turning the bend for home when the midfielder received possession with his back turned to goal, and was quickly set upon by Tuohy. The sliotar popped loose and the chance was gone.
Jason Flynn, barreling towards goal, mistook a Clare defender for a Galway forward when offloading the sliotar.
The one which stands out above all else is the extra-time opening set up by Johnny Glynn’s rampaging run
right through the heart of the Clare defence.
Glynn flicked it out to Jason Flynn who couldn’t keep his shot down.
A goal there and Galway would be preparing for August 19, not next Sunday.