Donoghue and Tribes­men left search­ing for an­swers

De­feated man­ager says his team were ‘be­low par’ against ‘de­serv­ing win­ners’ Lim­er­ick

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - – Gal­way re­ac­tion

Micheál Donoghue steps for­ward to speak about what Gal­way peo­ple un­der­stand­ably be­lieved was past. The in­ex­pli­ca­ble hurt, the mis­ery that comes from play­ing be­neath them­selves when it re­ally mat­ters.

What they pre­sumed was no longer theirs to own. Donoghue has built a team around Joe Can­ning of pow­er­ful, slick-mov­ing hurlers seem­ingly poised to re­peat the great­ness re­quired to re­tain Liam MacCarthy, just like ma­roon men of 1988.

In­stead, then came the Gal­way hurlers ev­ery­one wit­nessed pre-2017, swing­ing from bril­liance to in­ac­cu­racy, es­pe­cially when faced by manic young Lim­er­ick play­ers.

The same ques­tion is asked as many ways there is pos­si­ble in seven min­utes without stat­ing the ob­vi­ous: Why?

Cough up

Why so many “un­com­mon er­rors”? Why did the hurler-of-the-year-in-wait­ing, Pádraic Man­nion, cough up a wealth of pos­ses­sion? Why couldn’t they en­gi­neer the scores that cloaked all other is­sues this sum­mer?

“We were just be­low par,” re­sponded Donoghue. And he does not know the an­swer. “Train­ing had gone well for the last two weeks. We were in good form com­ing up this morn­ing but . . . Look, it’s dis­ap­point­ing when it doesn’t go well on the big day but we have to take it on the chin.”

There had been warn­ings. Those in di­rect con­tact to the panel freely stated Gal­way were cruis­ing in third gear. See how they blitzed Clare, yet couldn’t turn a sub­stan­tial lead and clear dom­i­nance into com­fort­able vic­tory.

Strug­gle

“Ev­ery­thing . . . we just seemed to strug­gle to get into it. Some­times games go like that.”

To­tal ca­pit­u­la­tion was sal­vaged by a string of Can­ning strikes be­fore Conor Whe­lan’s goal lit the fire; the last gift in this great hurl­ing year, a fit­ting con­clu­sion to an oth­er­wise in­sipid All-Ire­land fi­nal.

“Lim­er­ick got the big scores when they re­ally needed them but our boys fought to the end,” said Donoghue. “Re­ally proud of them. Lim­er­ick had the edge on us the whole day. De­serv­ing win­ners.”

Maybe it was all the games. Nine matches – in­clud­ing two dances with Kilkenny to win Le­in­ster then Clare over dou­ble ex­tra time pe­ri­ods – or the two-week build-up to mend creak­ing bod­ies.

Ex­cuses

“I’m not go­ing to make any ex­cuses. My thoughts on the play­ers isn’t go­ing to be any dif­fer­ent . . . I have no doubt they are go­ing to bounce back again. We take it on the chin, we have no choice, we just move on.”

Stunned by un­fa­mil­iar lights, Lim­er­ick froze on 2-15 af­ter Tom Mor­ris­sey un­bur­dened Gearóid McIn­er­ney (was he fit enough?) in an act of bla­tant lar­ceny that had the usu­ally re­gal cen­tre-back like a man cling­ing to the door of his own ac­cel­er­at­ing ve­hi­cle.

“But I thought we brought it back,” con­tin­ued Donoghue . “The third goal was the killer.”

Gal­way were pick-pock­eted sev­eral times while at­tempt­ing to hand pass from their own ter­ri­tory. Shane Dowl­ing has ar­rived late into cham­pi­onship caul­drons all sea­son to make a dif­fer­ence. This third stamp on Gal­way’s des­per­ate show­ing made it an eight-point game, yet some­how Can­ning’s slic­ing stick play re­duced mat­ters to noth­ing. Bul­let Whe­lan’s catch-and-shoot goal left five be­tween them. Can­ning’s bul­let free made it a two-point game. But when Niall Burke re­duced the score to the min­i­mum Graeme Mulc­ahy shook Lim­er­ick out of a his­toric trance.

His was their first point in 33 min­utes. It proved enough.

“Any­thing we’ve asked of these lads since we came in,” Donoghue con­cluded, “they have been top notch. They have been one of the top teams be­cause they have been knock­ing on the door for so long. Ob­vi­ously last year we made the break­through, which was mas­sive. There is a lot of learn­ings we can take from the year, par­tic­u­larly early on and how we pre­pared for the year.”

So, clearly, not ev­ery­thing went ac­cord­ing to plan.

‘‘ It’s dis­ap­point­ing when it doesn’t go well on the big day. Lim­er­ick had the edge on us the whole day. De­serv­ing win­ners” – Micheál Donoghue

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRYAN KEANE/IN­PHO

Gal­way’s Jonathan Glynn feels the pain of de­feat as the pre­sen­ta­tion is made to cham­pi­ons Lim­er­ick af­ter yes­ter­day’s fi­nal at Croke Park.

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