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84-year-old loves to take to the roads for good causes

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A pensioner with a life-long love of the bike has lamented how cycling in the city centre has now become “too dangerous” for him.

Brendan Geoghegan (84), whose passion for the pedals is unrelenting, has tackled many of the country’s road for charity – and even now he shows no signs of slowing down.

But speaking on cycling around Galway, Brendan said, “It’s an awful pity because it is a beautiful city, but you are stopped from accessing it if you are on a bike. It’s all one way streets and can be very dangerous to cycle around especially for someone my age.”

The Mervue native has been participating in long distance cycles for over three decades and his love of cycling has grown since he was first involved in the 206-mile Co-Operation North Maracycle back in 1985.

Brendan has been involved in numerous long distance charity cycles for various organisations including the likes of Croí. His original charity cycle was the North Maracycle, where he often met with an intimidating atmosphere along with the way.

“I saw some report in the paper about it and said to myself, how could anyone cycle over a hundred miles in a day?

“It was a fundraiser to bring the children from the two areas, both Catholic and Protestant together away from the hostile atmosphere up North at the time. Some of them were taking to places across Europe and America,” he said.

“It was tough going. One year, I was stopped on the road at Newry, some incident had happened the night before. I think something had exploded. We are greeted by about 100 soldiers and it was like something out of Vietnam,” he added.

Brendan’s cycling started from a very early age when he left school at the age of 14.

“One of my first jobs was a messenger boy. In my era if the family didn’t have the money you left school. So the school was like an academy for messenger boys. Ten shillings a week, no way was I going to become a millionaire,” he joked.

His first bike cost between £15 and £20 and it’s a long way from the high-spec models that are currently on the market.

His training for years involved a cycle from Clifden and back from his city residence which he and his neighbour used to go on every Sunday.

Brendan has also been heavily involved in attempts to open the unused rail line between the Galway-Clifden as a cycle freeway so people can cycle without danger.

“I pointed out the advantages to people of having tourists using this cycle path as a huge positive to the local area. They would all be looking for food and a place to stay the night, so it would be brilliant for that area of the country in increasing tourism. It would create jobs and provide much needed income to the area,” he explained.

“I was in contact with the decision makers and they eventually got it going. I’m not sure how it’s going at the moment though. However, they have come in some difficult from the land owners who don’t want give up their land,” he added.

Not only is Brendan active in body, he continues to keep his mind active also.

“Your brain is a muscle too so use it. I read a lot and I do crosswords daily and I’m into history. I did a diploma in archaeology in NUIG. I had just finished the course the year before I retired in 1996.

“Sixty-three people did it and we formed a group and we went to different countries abroad look at archaeological sites.

“I remember when I was going to school and there was a map on the wall but of course never in your wildest dreams would you think would you get to see those places. It’s extraordinary,” he stated.

Connacht Tribune

US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots

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Galway roots...Pat Connaughton.

An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.

The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”

One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.

“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.

“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”

Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists

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Ireland rowers (from left) Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Eimear Lambe from Dublin, Fiona Murtagh from Moycullen and Emily Hegarty from Cork celebrate on the podium with their Olympic bronze medals after the Women's Four final at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’

At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.

It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.

Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.

As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.

It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.

Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.

Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie   

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Connacht Tribune

Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star

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Cillín Greene's parents Sinead and Cole and sisters Iarlaith (left) and Miriam above the Olympic flag on the Nine Arches in Claregalway. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.

On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.

He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.

Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.

“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.

“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.

Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.

But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.

The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.

See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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