After last year’s Leinster final success and an All-Ireland final appearance, Galway hurling supporters were hopeful that 2013 would be a positive year at senior level for the county.
Instead, it has been a really disappointing season, and we seem to be as far back from a possible tilt at an All-Ireland title, as we have been for a good few years.
Instead of Galway pushing on, the impetus and progression seems to be with teams like Limerick, Dublin and Cork and Clare following last weekend’s results.
A very mixed league campaign for Galway was followed with a narrow win over Laois and two comprehensive defeats to Dublin and Clare in the championship. It was not the defeats themselves that caused the real angst and ire amongst supporters, but the nature of them.
Galway’s first half performance against Anthony Daly’s men was miles off the pace and Dublin fully deserved their win.
Everyone was hoping that having suffered that defeat and having had 70 minutes of championship hurling under their belts, things would pick up against Clare in Semple stadium.
It was a forlorn hope. And Galway were well off their game again last weekend at they went down to a 1-23 to 2-14 defeat to a lively and well-coached Clare outfit.
It was a very poor display by the team and raises a lot of questions as regards the lack of intensity, lack of pace and lack of cohesion in the team as Clare looked far superior in all facets of the game.
Anthony Cunningham had swung the axe for this All-Ireland quarter-final and made six changes from the side which lost out to Dublin.
Colm Callanan came in for James Skehill in goal, Jason Grealish made his championship debut, Aidan Harte and Andy Smith formed a new midfield pairing while Jonathan Glynn and Damien Hayes were preferred to Cyril Donnellan and Davy Glennon in attack. Unfortunately the changes did not have the desired effect and by half-time Galway were in big trouble and behind by 1-12 to 0-8.
Three changes were made to try and rectify the imbalance at half time, with Iarla Tannian, Joseph Cooney and Davy Glennon all entering the fray.
And while Galway did get back to within four points and three points of the Banner men following well taken goals by Jonathan Glynn and Niall Healy, Clare always looked to be far too lively, cohesive, and well set-up, to give Galway any chance of advancing to an All-Ireland semi-final.
Team manager Anthony Cunningham admitted to the press after the defeat that his side never really hit form.
“We struggled form-wise. For most of the match against Dublin in the Leinster final and in the first half against Clare. They’re fine lines, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and kick on from here.”
Cunningham will be going into the final year of his term in 2014, and despite the disappointing defeats to Clare and Dublin, he is optimistic about the future.
“We are in it because we love it and we would have to say that the county board, the hurling board, and management structure that is there is tremendous and I have to thank them even though it is difficult times.”
“We’ve trained even as hard as we did last year. The effort we’ve had from the 31 or 32 guys on the panel has been tremendous. We will be looking for new players for the years ahead and it’s not the end of the world, but it’s the end of the championship for us, and we’ll have to build on it for next year.”
GALWAY: Colm Callanan, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore (Cpt ), Johnny Coen, Shane Kavanagh, David Collins, Jason Grealish, Aidan Harte (0-1 ), Andy Smith, David Burke, Conor Cooney, Jonathan Glynn (1-0 ), Damien Hayes (0-3 ), Joe Canning 0-9 (0-6f, 0-2 ’65 ), Niall Burke.
Subs: Joseph Cooney (0-1 ) for Coen (ht ), Iarla Tannian for Smith (h-t ), David Glennon for Cooney (h-t ), Cyril Donnellan for Niall Burke (46 ), Niall Healy (1-0 ) for Harte (60 ).