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High flying Connacht put the Red Army to the sword

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Connacht 35

Munster 14

BEYOND all reasonable doubt, it is now safe to say that Connacht are a top four side in the Pro12. Moreover, it can be said with absolute certainty that they are also a better team than Munster. Saturday’s all encompassing 21 point hammering completed an historic season double against the men in red and copper-fastened this reality.

There is a new order on the Irish provincial landscape and Connacht are no longer province number four. Saturday’s tussle confirmed that the westerners have a stronger crop of young players, a more cohesive and inventive management team, better front row forwards and star players in key positions that can outplay the best of Munster.

Will it last? For a while anyways, but not forever of course. Munster are not going to go away, they brought the guts of a thousand people to the Sportsground on Saturday night, in the midst of an almighty crisis of form and confidence, so they are still getting the backing from the faithful. Added to that, they had eight players under the age of 25 in their squad which suggests there’s talent emerging from their academy too.

Yet for now, the provincial order is where it should be. The team playing with ambition and exuding positivity on and off the field are regularly beating a team full of negativity, be it in their game plan or their post game comments. Munster began the match with a wonderful try, full of skill and creativity, before quickly regressing into the shell of mediocrity that has underpinned a wretched 12 months.

The promising Johnny Holland made that try with a deft offload to Jack O’Donoghue who found the rampaging Simon Zebo on his shoulder. The line and speed from the full back was more akin to what you regularly see from this current Connacht side, it was brilliant. The Cork Con full back threw the ball in the air and roared at the crowd. It looked like it was going to be a day for Zebo headlines. Unfortunately for supporters in red, the was his last chance to roar.

Sure Munster had one more strong moment. Connacht were caught forcing the game in their own 22 – Bundee Aki knocked on after an O’Leary pass and the hosts were punished accordingly with Mike Sherry eventually getting over in the corner after a lineout. At that stage, the visitors led 14-6 with an hour of rugby still to play.

The scrum launched the fightback. Three time Irish international loosehead James Cronin couldn’t handle Finlay Bealham and looked some way off the standards set by the still to be capped Denis Buckley on the Connacht loosehead side of the scrum. Three first half penalties at scrum time underlined at much and brought about the game’s first key turning point with Cronin binned for losing the bind and dragging Bealham to the ground.

 

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway minors continue to turn season around with latest win over Derry

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Galway players Seán Dunne, Fionn O'Connor and Adam Colleran celebrating their All-Ireland Minor Football semi-final win over Derry at Parnell Park on Saturday. Photo: Ray McManus /Sportsfile.

THE results may not have gone Galway’s way in the Connacht minor football championship, but team manager Alan Glynn never lost faith in his young squad.

And his belief in them has certainly been justified following deserved victories over Dublin and Derry in the All-Ireland series, setting Galway up for a unique third championship collision with Mayo in the one year.

The more games Galway are playing, the better they are getting, and Glynn is in no doubt that their extended championship run will do wonders for the development of his players.

But after losing three times in Connacht – twice to Mayo – how did Glynn, and his backroom team of Tim Rabbitt and Michéal Antaine Ó Loidéain, manage to turn their season around?

“We did speak in the dressing-room after that game [Connacht final] and we said, ‘look that’s the Connacht championship done with, that’s one competition finished and we’re now into a new All-Ireland competition.’

“There were eight teams left and we took that look to things. At the end of the day, we had lost three games in Connacht, and I suppose if you were to dwell on that, we could get bogged down and we could get negative. We just said, ‘We’ve finished second in Connacht. Not what we wanted but it’s where we were and we’re now into the last eight.’

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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CITY TRIBUNE

Aki captains Ireland, scores a try but tourists’ first match ends in heavy defeat

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Ireland captain Bundee Aki touches down for a first-half try against the Maori All Blacks on Wednesday, but the game ended in a disappointing loss for the tourists.

IT should have been a night to savour for Bundee Aki who was honoured with the Irish captaincy for the first game of their daunting tour to New Zealand.

Leading an inexperienced tourist selection, Aki could hardly have wished for a better start after powering over for Ireland’s first try against the Maori All Blacks.

But it was nearly all downhill for the men in green subsequently on Wednesday. Ireland were repeatedly carved open and trailed by 32-10 at the break.

On a night when fellow Connacht player, flanker Cian Prendergast, also started and prop Finlay Bealham was a second-half substitute, Ireland never really fired despite not conceding another score on the resumption.

But all the tourists could add to their tally was a converted Gavin Coombes’ try in a disappointing opening to their five-match tour.

Ahead of the game, Aki said it was a “huge privilege” to captain Ireland against the Maori All Blacks after initially suspecting head coach Andy Farrell was joking about giving him the responsibility.

New Zealand-born Aki led a youthful side containing five uncapped players on Wednesday night as the Irish kicked-off their summer tour of his homeland.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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

Galway have more than a prayer of toppling Limerick

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Galway’s Tom Monaghan breaking away from Limerick’s Kyle Hayes during their National League encounter at the Gaelic Grounds last February The teams clash again in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.

THEY are unbeaten in the championship since the All-Ireland semi-final of 2019; are chasing a fourth Liam McCarthy Cup in five years; and when it comes to brute force and physicality, they have no peers in the game.

This is the Limerick team that Galway must upset the odds against in Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final at Croke Park (3.30pm). And though few give them a realistic chance of doing so, the Tribesmen are at least capable of giving the champions a searching test.

Galway will also draw encouragement from their last semi-final battle with Limerick in 2020 at an empty Croke Park. The teams were level in injury time only for the Shannonsiders to salvage a result with Tom Morrissey catching fire late on.

It was a contest with no goals (0-27 to 0-24) and benefiting from a flying start, Galway really carried the fight to Limerick despite suffering the loss of Cathal Mannion through injury in the opening-half. It was an occasion which also stood out for Joe Canning’s remarkable feat of converting four sideline cuts – a record number for one championship game.

The team’s long-time ace marksman is no longer involved, but apart from the also retired Aidan Harte and long-term injury victim Shane Cooney, Galway will again be relying on the bulk of those players from that semi-final of two years in their quest to turn the tables.

Naturally, it will be one less if, as anticipated, Gearóid McInerney fails to recover from the knee injury which forced him to hobble off before half-time in their quarter-final victory over Cork in Thurles last Saturday week.

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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