John McIntyre not worried by prospect of Galway relegation
Former manager stresses team can only be judged on performance during summer
Joe Canning cuts a dejected figure after Galway’s loss to Kilkenny. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
On Sunday Galway hurlers face into a relegation play-off against Cork. Defeat would draw a line under a striking record, which has seen the county involved in the top flight of the hurling league every season for the past 25 years.
Former manager John McIntyre, who led Galway to its most recent league title, in 2010, says that he doesn’t believe that relegation would be the end of the world for the county but that the player’s revolt to change management last year has created pressure for them.
“In my view, I don’t think it would be a disaster in the circumstances if Galway were relegated.
“They’d focus immediately on the championship and even have a cause to fight. The elephant in the room though would the players’ heave against Anthony Cunningham last year and the snipers in the long grass, who would see that the team, after orchestrating the removal of the manager, had failed their first challenge.
“Regardless of the outcome on Sunday – and supporters can fly off the handle and lose faith – ultimately the team’s success will be decided by progress made during the championship.”
It has been a feature of relegation from Division One A in recent years that the teams have bounced straight back to the top and often with momentum created that has had benefits at championship level.
For example, Dublin won the 2013 Leinster championship a year after being relegated and 12 months previously Cork came within seconds of winning an All-Ireland.
McIntyre isn’t sure that relegation would similarly benefit Galway but doesn’t feel that the imperative of old to do as well as possible in the league still exists to the same extent.
“Galway’s thinking over the years was coloured by not having a provincial campaign. And the farther the team progressed, the better the preparation for the championship. The system has changed since and in the past seven years there has been a level playing field for Galway.
“I would imagine that it’s not as critical for the county to have a sustained run in the league these days but I always felt that the better we did in the league the easier it was to keep all the strands of a successful hurling team together.
“You can’t beat winning. It gives a manager a little bit of space.”
Galway have won four titles in the 25 years of hurling in the top division, a haul bettered only by Kilkenny.
Citing the use made of the league by Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, who has won eight titles in the spring as well as the 11 All-Irelands, McIntyre says that the development of a winning culture benefits all teams.
“Some teams don’t know how to win but Kilkenny don’t know how to lose.”
Opponents Cork are under pressure after losing all five of the regulation league matches.
Manager Kieran Kingston has further concerns with the Evening Echo reporting that five players – Aidan Walsh, Luke O’Farrell, Paul Haughney, Paudie O’Sullivan and Patrick Cronin – are “very doubtful” after a virus in the camp.
Confirming the situation, selector Pat Ryan said that the situation would be assessed at training on tonight with the team to be announced later tomorrow.