Galway lost to Kilkenny last weekend, but some of the criticism has been over the top.
The past few weeks in the GAA hurling and football championships haven’t exactly set the summer alight. However, it hasn’t been short of controversy.
It is becoming more and more common now for players and managers to be at the receiving end of heavy criticism from former players/managers-turned-pundits.
Joe Brolly launched a tirade at Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney following their exit from the Ulster Championship while it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Orchard County since, as they’ve been at the receiving end of two qualifier defeats to Laois.
Ger Loughnane has also proved that he is not above low blows either with his column in the Star newspaper branding the Galway hurlers ‘gutless’ while personally attacking manager Micheál Donoghue’s sideline manner and personality, dubbing him ‘Fr Trendy’.
Unfortunately, this has been coming for a number of years as pundits have used their position to take personal swipes rather than to provide any meaningful insight on games. All the while this has been presented to us as ‘honest, hard-hitting, tell-it-as-it-is’ match analysis, when in fact, it’s anything but and the fact that few have called out the progression towards this click bait, sensationalist ‘analysis’ highlights that many have started to deem this as acceptable.
The Galway hurlers have been in a tough situation this year with many criticising the team for the manner in which Anthony Cunningham’s departure was dealt with. It has been used as a stick to beat the team with following their relegation in the National League and now following their defeat to Kilkenny in the Leinster Final.
However, Loughnane and others who queued up to take a twisted pleasure in Galway’s defeat need to remember that they don’t play for the Tribesmen. They are not part of the team. They do not know what went on to push the Galway hurlers to make their decision regarding Cunningham and to be perfectly honest, it’s not any of their business either.
The Galway hurlers do not owe Ger Loughnane or anybody else an explanation or justification for their decision.
People mightn’t like it but then they’re not the ones doing the heavy lifting or crossing the white line for their county and if the Galway hurlers did not feel that they were prepared to their potential, then they had the right to question and demand change.
Perhaps there was a better way to go about it but then what right way is there to tell a manager that you’re not happy with the job that he’s doing? It wasn’t a nice situation but for the Galway hurlers, it must have been a necessary one and while we are free to question their decision, we are not free to throw it in their faces every time they suffer a setback.
Galway were beaten by a Kilkenny team that most teams will struggle to warm in the Championship.
That doesn’t mean the Galway humiliated themselves on Sunday. In fact, they were demonic in their hassling and attacked every ball and every break in true Galway explosive style. In the first half, Cathal Mannion had Joey Holden in real trouble early on, however, in the second half, as Kilkenny tend to do, they upped it a gear and Galway didn’t cope.
Richie Hogan, Fogarty and Buckley were outstanding in the second half and few teams have proven capable of dealing with these lads when on top form.
Galway didn’t lose this game because they were lazy as Anna Geary stated after the game or because they were ‘gutless’ as Loughnane believes. They were beaten by a team whose ability to read a game and the breaks is quality, whose decision making is spot on and who also have the luxury of being able to spring Richie Hogan in the second half.
Does all of this mean that Kilkenny are unbeatable? Personally I don’t think so. They appeared vulnerable at times in the first half especially at the back when ran at and teams like Tipperary or Clare who have pacey forwards will see potential to punish Kilkenny here, if of course they get the opportunity.
Does all of this also mean that Galway can’t win the All-Ireland? I don’t think so either. Galway have quality all over the field and if they can become more ruthless in front of goal and can improve their slot selection and decision making out the field, they will be a match for any team left in the Championship.
And if they don’t win the All-Ireland, it definitely won’t be for a lack of effort.