Antrim defeat another reality check for Galway football

A dejected Gary Sice, Galway, after the game. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Qualifier, Round 2, Antrim v Galway, Casement Park, Belfast, Co Antrim. 
Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

A dejected Gary Sice, Galway, after the game. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Qualifier, Round 2, Antrim v Galway, Casement Park, Belfast, Co Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

There is a lot of genuine disappointment in Galway football circles this week after last Saturday’s one point defeat to Antrim who played their football in Division Three of the NFL last season, and whose last Ulster senior title was in 1951 and whose last Ulster minor title came thirty years ago in 1982.

There can now be no denying now how far Galway football’s stock at senior level has fallen in the past decade.

No doubt Alan Mulholland and his management team of Donal O’ Flatharta and Alan Flynn would do a good few things differently if they had another chance to play Antrim next Saturday again.

Starting Seán Armstrong at centre-forward was a tactic that did not work and the decision to bring on Gary Sweeney up front after he had come in at corner back against Sligo is one that left a few scratched heads.

However to overly build up those “straw men” as where Galway have gone wrong, would be to miss the point of where the key problem lies.

Sure, we might have jumped the Antrim fence and maybe even Tipperary next Saturday, but it was only a matter of time until one of the bigger dogs like Cork, Donegal or Down, Dublin or even Kildare or Tyrone (if they beat Kerry ) would have put us out.

Galway football supporters and those who oversee Gaelic football in the county have to take the long-term view on what has to happen over the next few years.

There are no quick fixes for Galway football

There is NO QUICK FIX, and to think there is, or that a new “all singing all dancing manager” will make it alright again reflects poorly on the IQ of those who think there is.

It’s like asking Santa Claus to come with a really big present and sure all your troubles will be over. It doesn’t work like that.

The new chairman of the football board next year and the coaching committees in the county etc need to look at what is being done at school, club and county level. Some self evaluation also needs to be carried out by those in the power positions in the county. Is there a better way of doing things? How can things be improved upon?

Alan Mulholland has a few detractors after the recent defeats to Sligo and Antrim, however even they, cannot lay the blame for the lack of a Connacht minor title in the past five years at his feet. And it is hardly his fault that Galway have only won a single Connacht senior title since 2005.

We assume that he and many of the younger players on the panel will have learnt from the past seven months. This year has been a learning experience for all concerned. Guys like Paul Conroy, Mark Hehir, Conor Doherty, Tom Flynn, Fiontáin Ó Curraoin, Keith Kelly, Johnny Duane and Tom Fahy will hopefully be better and more experienced players next year. That crop need to develop into top inter-county footballers if Galway are to get back to being anywhere like a top ten team.

Club football is poor in the county

The real kernel of the problem is that senior club football is quite poor in this county. Corofin and Killererin have been incredibly dominant over the past fifteen years and anyone who thinks that there are twenty genuine senior clubs in the county is living in dreamland. There are six or seven senior clubs who are just doing everything in their power to stay senior, but in truth they are more Intermediate level than senior.

How many Galway clubs would beat the top six or seven clubs in Mayo? The answer is very very few.

With a new football board chairman coming on board in 2013, there is an opportunity for the county board and the games manager in the county need to look at the structures that are currently in place and also to provide more support to schools at both national school, and second level.

Secondary schools which in the past provided huge numbers of highly coached and skilled players for county teams are not doing so as much any more, and unless those involved in the promotion of football in those schools are heavily supported, fewer players will come through the system.

Last Saturday was a very disappointing performance and result, however the question is how it is responded to.

Mulholland needs to be given a few years to try and put his mark on a team. We have seen how changing managers has served us in the past years….time to give this one the time to prove that he is up to the job.


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