Fifth defeat on the bounce for Ó’Flathárta’s charges

The general consensus in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon was that the Galway seniors were improving and things were starting to look up a bit.

How much of that positivity was an afterglow to the impressive win that the county u-21s enjoyed on Saturday against Sligo remains to be seen.

It is fair to say Galway had an understrength Cork side rattled at some stages last weekend and, if they had a little more composure in front of goal, they might have grabbed their first point, or perhaps even points from the current campaign.

Fiachra Breathnachhad a glorious opportunity for a goal in the first half and popped it the wrong side of the post, while the energetic and productive Matthew Clancy also had a good goal chance at the death, but his shot was at the ideal height for the keeper to bat away.

Galway’s best period was the last 20 minutes of the first half. They led by 0-9 to 0-7 at half time and their efforts were greeted with warm applause by the sparse crowd.

A clearly dissatisfied Cork manager, Conor Counihan, made major changes at half time and his impressive reinforcements made a significant and positive difference - so much so that the home side could only muster four points in the second 35 minutes, compared to Cork’s nine.

This defeat sees Galway rooted to the bottom of the division one table with a giant negative scoring average, behind Monaghan and Mayo. With Armagh (away ) next up and Dublin at home in round seven, division two for 2012 beckons.

Galway impressed in the second quarter of the game and, with Joe Bergin storming around midfield and Finian Hanley doing well in a defensive midfield role, the team had a solid foundation on which to build. Cormac Bane hit some good scores, Paul Conroy hit a beauty, and Eoin Concannon also foraged well. From being 0-5 to 0-1 down, the maroon boys outscored the All Ireland and league champions by eight points to two to lead at the small whistle.

However it was to prove a false dawn as the Rebels powered in the second half and condemned Galway to their fifth defeat in a row.

Despite the likelihood of impending relegation, team manager Tomás Ó Flathárta is determined to plough on and prepare for the championship clash with Mayo in Castlebar in June.

"We just have to keep working and keep learning as we are doing all the time. We have been trying out a new midfield partnership in the last few weeks, Joe [Bergin] and Finian [Hanley], and I thought it was better again on Sunday so that is encouraging," he said.

Ó Flathárta, who was given the board’s full backing and roundly endorsed by football chairman John Joe Holleran last week, seems destined to stay in control until after the 2011 championship at the very least. Holleran, who was quoted extensively in the Irish Examiner, spoke very positively about the Kerry native, who is the third manager he has overseen in as many years.

The Galway manager also spoke on Sunday of his enjoyment at working with the current squad and how he expects to be a much stronger force when the likes of Gareth Bradshaw, Seán Armstrong, Michael Meehan and Padraig Joyce return from injury.

"I am delighted to be working with lads who are very committed and who are working very hard. There is a great spirit among them and when we have a full squad together, we will be a good force then."

Following the impressive showing of some of the county u-21s in their victory over Sligo last weekend and depending on how they do in the Connacht final against Roscommon on Saturday week at a Galway venue, some more of that squad may join Colin Forde and Johnny Duane in the senior set-up.

One word of caution. While many I spoke to last Sunday were quick to name the players missing from the Galway team, few, if any, mentioned Cork were minus some quality players too. Team captain and All Star Graham Canty, All Star Aidan Walsh, Alan Quirke, Paul Kerrigan, Donnacha O’Connor and Chiarán Sheehan were all on their absent list, while Colm O’Neill’s injury seemed to upset their rhythm too.


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