Cathal Murray may have bemoaned the current championship format despite his side’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Tipperary on Sunday but Ursula Jacob thinks that the Galway camogie boss should be counting his blessings
ith only three groups in the round-robin phase of the tournament, two of the group winners qualified straight for the semi-final while the other went into a quarter-final knockout series along with the three group runners-up.
This meant that Group 2 winners Cork and Group 3 winners Galway had no games between July 31st and last Sunday, while Group 1 winners Tipp had an extra match on August 21st when they beat Waterford.
Ultimately, the Tribeswomen would win out regardless despite losing Dervla Higgins to a red card and while Murray wasn’t happy with that sending off, it was the period of inactivity that he saved his ire for.
“I think the four-week break needs to be looked at,” he told Off The Ball afterwards.
“There’s no point working hard and topping the group and then having to sit and watch everyone else play for four weeks, it’s not giving advantage to the team that tops the group.
“It’s very hard to get yourself right for an All-Ireland semi-final with that [break].
.”We knew Tipperary would have a big, big advantage and in fairness, we started well but we didn’t put scores on the board and that bit of rustiness was there and that cost us in the first half.”
But after Orlaith McGrath’s vital contribution in their 1-13 to 0-12 semi-final win over Tipperary, Jacob explained on The Throw-In why the break may actually have worked to Galway’s advantage .
And despite Murray’s public pronouncements, Jacob believes the rest will stand the westerners in good stead come the final against Cork on Sunday week.
“It is a strange one that there is a month long break. I think a month is too long between competitive games,” the four-time All-Ireland winner told Independent.ie’s GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy.
“Obviously when you top your group, you want to go the direct route and I think Galway and Cork would have been most happy with that.
“But on the other hand, I think Cathal Murray and his management team would be happy they’ve had the last month they’ve had. They’ve really been dogged with injuries this year.
“Obviously Heather Cooney is gone with a cruciate injury from a league game earlier on in the year and Carrie Dolan, who was missing on Sunday, I feel she will probably be back fit for the final.
“But the likes of Orlaith McGrath and Caitriona Cormican were all injured during the group stages of the Championship this year.
“So I feel that Galway will be happy enough that they’ve had that month where the likes of those girls have been able to get a little bit of training under their belt and to recover from some of these injuries. Because if they had game after game after game, they wouldn’t have had any chance of getting back.
“You saw the impact of Orlaith McGrath. She got 1-2, she was threatening every time in that full-forward line.
“She had been really struggling with a shoulder injury this year so she would have been a huge loss for Galway if she wasn’t there (for an earlier tie).”
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