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Wed 15-Oct-2008 19:35
More from this writer..
The Tribes have spoken ...
Emmet Moloney writes for the 'Farmers Journal' and is a former sports columnist with 'The Kerryman'.
Galway, as is their wont, have dispensed with the services of Ger Loughnane. Their sideline will be a little less colourful and Leinster hurling will never be the same! Emmet Moloney writes...
For those of us who enjoy the drama and sheer unpredictability Ger Loughnane brings to the sideline of a hurling field, his dismissal as Galway manager will be felt with a tinge of regret. Loughnane was always value for money in that regard.
He leaves the Tribesmen after two fairly unsatisfying years. In the championship, Galway didn’t manage to beat any of the traditional hurling powers. Laois and Antrim were the only scalps of the time and, of course, that wasn’t good enough. In recent weeks, there were rumours of discontent among the players over their physical preparation – a common complaint these days.
Of course, there was also discontent in general throughout Galway. Loughnane had been unveiled in a blaze of publicity and enthusiasm but that was probably the highlight of his reign. Brendan Lynskey, who was instrumental in enticing Loughnane to Galway, was quietly removed as a selector after that first year of underachievement. The two-year plan for winning an All-Ireland would never get off the ground.
For many of the delegates who voted against the Clareman on Monday night, the manner of defeats suffered in the previous two years was too much. In year one, a shambolic Galway side (only announced by Ger in the huddle before the game) lost to Clare. The week of that match was a Loughnane/Tony Considine sideshow. The game didn’t match the emotional post-match handshake between the two. Childish carry-on and both their stars have waned since.
A few weeks later, Galway matched Kilkenny for 60 minutes of great hurling. Level at 1-18 apiece, the Cats stepped on the accelerator and pulled away to win by 3-22 to 1-18. But we did see something and, of course, there was always the prospect of Joe Canning to come.
It is here that Loughnane really struggled. Both Ollie and Joe Canning were finally coaxed back onto the panel for 2008. Ollie was made captain, but, the previous year, Loughnane’s public utterances about the Cannings were along the lines that Galway didn’t need them. He even suggested that Joe wasn’t ready for inter-county hurling. The boy wonder proved that he is more than ready in just one game this summer. Both were losses last year.
The manner of this year’s loss to Cork also rankled. Losing to 14 men while leading and playing with the wind, in that epic second half, hurt. Cork physically bullied Galway out of that match. This was a Galway team playing with Joe Canning, a man who couldn’t miss on the day. While all of the credit rightly went to Cork for their tenacious performance, Galway rolled over.
That was not a performance you could associate with Ger Loughnane. In all his time with Clare, even on the days that the ball didn’t fall The Banner’s way, they fought on that field for 70 minutes. If ever there was an evening to stand up and be counted, it was that evening in Thurles. His team didn’t and Loughnane could hardly hide his disdain afterwards.
Will he turn up again? Maybe. As a school principal he has the summers off but this latest management experience has surely warned him off for a while. It was significant that he tried to stay on for a third year. Clearly, he didn’t want to sign off on a losing and tame note. But the way he has been shafted, by two votes in a secret ballot, will leave an aftertaste.
Much is made of Loughnane’s mental faculties, his powers of motivation and his solo publicity runs. We didn’t see a hell of a lot of either these past two years. In year one he did have a cut at Kilkenny’s aggressive style of hurling and the Clare County Board but, overall, he was quiet and circumspect – especially in his last year. There wasn’t a squeak out of him.
This was most unlike Loughnane. His teams once upon a time revelled in the maelstrom of controversy and drama. Galway never really reached those heights for him. You got the impression from his body language that he didn’t really enjoy the job as much as he had in Clare. Loughnane’s ambitions were never matched in Galway.
Was his “guarantee” of an All-Ireland within two years a mistake? Not really. Loughnane was firing up Galway on his arrival and was maybe caught up in the euphoria of his appointment. For a man of his once lofty standards, aspiring to win an All-Ireland quickly was the only reason he was there in the first place.
Clare have never won a Munster U-21 championship and this would be a natural place for Loughnane’s talents. But this will never happen with the current set-up in Clare. There is far too much enmity within the county towards him and, because of his prickly behaviour, he has encouraged much of it. This is a pity as a good hurling man will probably now retreat to the airwaves and printing presses. From there, he will settle the odd score and generate a bit of fun for all of us.
A return to 'The Sunday Game' would be entertaining. Anthony Daly is
and these two have sparked in the past. They’d be worth watching. And now Davy Fitz is staying with Waterford, Mike Mac with Clare, who knows who is going to Cork! The 2009 All-Ireland will be heated as everyone tries to put pressure on Kilkenny.
Michael Bond will probably get the Galway job. By letting his name go forward with the dream team of Joe Cooney, Michael Coleman and Steve Mahon, Bond took a chance. Hurling etiquette would suggest that Bond and his cohorts shouldn’t have pushed for promotion while Loughnane’s future hadn’t been decided. A bit unseemly that. If such a viable alternative wasn’t in place, would Galway have ditched Loughnane?
Of course, Ger isn’t a man to hold a grudge – I’m sure he’ll give Bond a free enough run!
To catch Emmet's latest column, get 'The Farmers' Journal' every Thursday...
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