Injured Cyril Donnellan not certain to play against Cork
By JIM CARNEY
FIT to play against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday week or kept out by a serious hand injury? We won’t know until the middle of next week, at the earliest.
For while key forward Cyril Donnellan is hopeful that another week will bring him close enough to recovery, everybody in the Galway camp acknowledges that the injury — a chipped bone in an arm — probably needs more time and there’s a major fear that the semi-final will come too soon.
The Pádraig Pearse’s stalwart, who made his senior inter-county debut in 2008, was outstanding in the recent shock win over All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, hitting five points from play in a characteristically lionhearted, all-action performance. Before that, he was Man of the Match against Offaly and recently at club level he inspired Pearse’s (Gurteen-Ballymacward) to a great win over Tommy Larkin’s in the County Cup, by 4-13 to 2-11.
It is interesting to reflect on Donnellan’s county career and on his role in the present team under the management of Anthony Cunningham, Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny. Five years ago he wasn’t really seen as “a Galway type” for the forwards; he was perceived to be only a worker, a strong-man grafter in the style of a Brendan Lynskey, and it wasn’t until Cyril Farrell made a public plea for him in his Irish Independent column that the young man from a then Intermediate club got his opportunity to play county hurling. Even now, inexplicably, there’s a reluctance among many Galway followers to give him the credit he’s due for his scoring prowess. Last year, for instance, there was much hot talk about how long it took Galway to shake off lowly Westmeath at Cusack Park, Mullingar in the Championship but very little was said or written about Cyril Donnellan coming to the rescue that day with three goals and a point.
In the Galway team this year, Cyril is still working hard and playing himself to a standstill but clearly he’s not restricted to winning the ball and laying it off to the full-forward line; it’s more obvious this year that he’s allowed run and shoot.
With the trouble he caused to such top-class, highly experienced defenders as Kilkenny’s Tommy Walsh and Brian Hogan, Cyril Donnellan really took centre-stage the last day and it would be a major talking-point if he didn’t win his race against the clock for Sunday week.
Ironically though, his loss might be felt less against a team like Cork, with two veterans — Tom Kenny and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín — in the half-back line last Sunday in the Rebel County’s hard-earned 1-19 to 0-19 quarter-final win over Waterford; and a third veteran, John Gardiner, introduced as a sub for centre-back Eoin Cadogan. In that scenario, Galway would probably like to go for as much youth and speed as they could fit into a Joe Canning-led attack.
Finding it impossible to resist speculating on what might happen after Sunday week if all goes well for Galway against Cork, it would be unthinkable to play Kilkenny or Tipperary in an All-Ireland final without the heart and steel of Cyril Donnellan.
The great Pearse’s man did his club proud when he powered them to victory in the County I.H.C. and long before that his talent had been spotted and nurtured by the likes of Tom and John O’Grady in the club and Tim Byrnes at St Cuan’s, Castleblakeney. All credit to them; they knew a good hurler when they saw the young Cyril Donnellan out on the field.
Galway strong in Minor grade again
MATT Murphy and trainer Mike Haverty are developing another exceptionally talented Galway U-18 panel. At O’Connor Park, Tullamore last Saturday, with three of last year’s All-Ireland winning first 15 in the line-up, Galway blitzed Wexford in the first half and qualified for a semi-final clash with a highly rated Tipperary team at Croke Park on August 19th.
Disappointingly for Galway fans, that minor semi-final will be the curtain-raiser to the Kilkenny vs Tipperary senior semi-final, not Galway vs Cork in the S.H.C. on the previous Sunday, August 12th.
Galway defeated Wexford by 15 points, 4-20 to 2-11 after leading by 16 points at half-time, 2-15 to 0-5. Earlier on it was 2-4 to 0-1 (after only seven minutes) and 15 minutes later it was 2-12 to 0-2.
Team: Mike Ó Conghaile (Mícheál Breathnachs); Daragh O’Donoghue (Kilnadeema-Leitrim), Paul Killeen (Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry), Barry Keane (Clarinbridge); Shane Caulfield (Kilconieron, 0-2), Seán Sweeney (Loughrea), Shane Cooney (St Thomas’s); Brian Murtagh (Ardrahan, 0-1), Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh-Fohenagh, 0-2); Adrian Morrissey (Liam Mellows, 1-2), Daragh Dolan (Cappataggle, 1-2), Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkin’s, 1-2); Ronan O’Meara (Portumna, 0-5), Michael Mullins (Gort, 1-1), Brian Molloy (Kilnadeema-Leitrim, 0-3). Subs used: S. Collins, A. Higgins, P. English, L. Cosgrove, C. Howe.
August 19th, at Croke Park: Galway minors vs Tipperary; S.H.C., Kilkenny vs Tipperary.