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Connacht’s pack ground Scarlets into submission

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Connacht 30

Scarlets 17

THE sheer domination told a tale. Connacht’s forwards demolished the Scarlets at the weekend. The Welsh side were missing a first choice front row and one key back rower but that hardly is an excuse for the way they – the leading Welsh province – were steamrolled in the pack from start to finish at the Sportsground on Saturday.

The Llanelli men brought a backline humming with talent and that unit kept them alive in the contest for a lot longer than you might have expected, yet with a scrum going backwards and a maul defence that was quite simply inadequate, Connacht’s young and energetic forwards set the tempo from the get go and the westerners never looked back.

These Saturday afternoon kick offs seem to be extremely popular with the supporters judging by the bumper attendance, officially at 5,292, and the constant noise and energy bellowing out from both stands throughout. The importance of this fixture was not lost on the green army and they made that known from an early stage.

This was a must win, after the heartbreaking defeat in Parc Y Scarlets earlier this month and a run of four straight Pro12 reversals, there was no room for another slip. That reality seemed to be abundantly clear to the players and they started at 100 miles an hour.

The contest itself had three main segments. A first half where Connacht largely dominated and led 13-0 thanks to two Jake Heenan tries after sustained pressure led to five metre lineouts and an unstoppable maul. The west Wales outfit had their moments but Connacht’s defence held firm. The only blot on the scorecard were three missed kicks from the otherwise on song Jack Carty, two had hit the post.

After half time, disaster struck as the Scarlets scored ten points in five minutes, a penalty from Aled Thomas and a try off a turnover on half way finished off by DTH Van Der Merwe. The visitors were seemingly back on track, or so we thought.

Connacht’s reaction was to get right back into gear, with the dominant front row of Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney and new Ireland call up Finlay Bealham earning a quick penalty and a sin bin for Phil John. Second row Tom Price followed his prop forward to the bin soon after for a high tackle on Caolin Blade and the platform was set.

Over the next 15 minutes, Connacht put the game firmly to bed with another catch and drive from a lineout leading to the fourth try, this time with Buckley touching down after Heenan caught at the back. Powerful work from John Muldoon, George Naoupu and Eoghan Masterson played a part in that.

Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Sportsground revamp to begin in Summer; no talks held with Galway Utd over move

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An aerial view of the Sportsground. Photo courtesy Connacht Rugby.

Connacht have confirmed that work on the €30m redevelopment project of the Sportsground will begin this summer, with the first phase seeing the existing main grass pitch being dug up and replaced with an artificial surface.

That first phase of work, which will get underway as soon as the current club rugby season ends in June, will also involve the installation of new floodlights: the aim is to have that first phase of work completed in time for the start of the 2022/23 season, which is likely to be September.

“We are looking forward to starting work in the summer, beginning with the installation of the artificial pitch and additional lighting.

“That is the first step and also a major step – getting that pitch done and having it ready for the start of the new season means we can continue to train at the Sportsground while the gym is being knocked and the back pitch is being dug up,” a spokesperson for Connacht Rugby told City Sport this week.

Plans for the massive renovation of the Sportsground, which would see the capacity increase to 12,000 spectators, were first announced three years ago and at the time it was said the development could cost in the region of €30m.

Full planning permission for the development was granted in May 2019, and in January 2020, the Government announced a total of €20m to Connacht Rugby’s Sportsground redevelopment project.

There was an initial €10m allocation under the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure (LSSIF), which was well short of what was hoped for – and needed – but that was then almost immediately matched with a further €10m commitment that was announced by the then Government Chief Whip and Galway West TD at the time, Sean Kyne.

Speaking at the time, Connacht said the redevelopment plan had been made possible following an arrangement reached between the Irish Greyhound Board and the freehold owners of the Sportsground, the Galway Agricultural and Sports Society.

“The arrangement with the Irish Greyhound Board will ensure that rugby fixtures and greyhound racing events will continue to be staged at the venue.”

There were whispers locally over the Christmas period that a third sport might be featuring in the redeveloped ground, as there were suggestions that Galway United had entered talks with moving to the renovated Sportsground, possibly as soon as for the start of the 2023 season in February 12 months.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht bid for history in U-23 hockey interpro decider

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Connacht U-23 captian, Fiona Kelly, will hope to lead her side to interprovincial glory in Dublin on Sunday.

Connacht will travel to Rathfarnham on Sunday to take on Leinster in the final of the U-23 women’s hockey interpros, the first time the western province has reached the decider in the age category (3pm).

The squad, which is captained by Fiona Kelly, will travel to the home of Three Rock Rovers full of confidence after a 1-0 win over Munster in Limerick last month booked their place in the final, with Kelly playing a captain’s role when bagging the only goal of the game.

The young squad – the side that beat Munster featured six Leaving Cert students will go into the game as underdogs, having been beaten 2-0 by Leinster earlier in the series. Leinster boats a perfect record, having beaten Munster 1-0 in the round-robin series, but Jen Hyde’s squad will fancy their chances of creating another upset on Sunday.

Hyde has named her squad for Sunday’s game, and once again it has a youthful look, with five LC students named in the 18-strong panel: the Salerno trio of Ciara Dunne, Amy Keenan, and Aoife Quinn are joined by Coláiste Iognáid’s Camille Keane, and Megan Clinton of Moate CC.

There are nine NUIG players in the squad, including Quinn, with Teagan Stanley representing Galway HC; the Heatherington sisters, Robyn and Allie, play for Old Alex; Trinity’s Alison Hennessy is also in the squad; while Kelly plays her club hockey with Catholic Institute.

“They’re believing in themselves again and representing Connacht with renewed pride. As a coach watching the girls support one another and play for each other has been my greatest success. Whatever happens in the final I couldn’t have asked for a better squad to work with,” Hyde says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Utd turn to Spanish Armada to float promotion hopes

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New Galway United signings Manu Dimas (left), and Diego Portilla. Photos: Galway United.

Galway United are hopeful their new ‘Spanish Armada’ will help the club to sail back into the top-flight of Irish football, having been anchored in the First Division for what will be a fifth consecutive season in 2022.

The club announced the signing of the Spanish duo of defender, Diego Portilla (27) and striker Manu Dimas (29) last weekend, bringing to 14 the number of players who have been announced as having signed with the club for a season which gets underway next month.

United manager John Caulfield told City Sport this week that both Caolfhionn O’Dea and Shane Doherty have also put pen to paper with the club for the 2022 campaign; while Dean O’Shea, who made two appearances at the back-end of last season. is also tied down for 2022.

As well as that trio, other players from last year’s squad who have been confirmed for this season are Killian Brouder, David Hurley, Conor Kearns, Francely Lomboto, Conor McCormack, Ronan Manning, Alex Murphy, Conor O’Keeffe, Mikey Rowe, Stephen Walsh, and Wilson Waweru.

Dimas and Portilla are joined by another new face, with Jordan Adeyomo, a striker, joining from Drogheda United.

It was put to him that having Lomboto and Manning back on the books us effectively like two new signings: Lomboto missed all of last season after breaking his leg in United’s final preseason friendly, a week before the start of the season; while Manning played just two games early in the 2021 season before rupturing his cruciate ligament in early May.

“It is great to have the lads back, Francely is fully back with us, back fully training, but Ronan, he is only easing himself back in, he has a bit of a way to go yet, we probably won’t see him in a squad until April or May.

“The new season is four rounds of games, so while he will miss the start, there will still be plenty of games for him to be involved in and we are looking forward to having a fully-fit Ronan showing everyone just how good we know he can be,” Caulfield said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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