An Spidéal 1-14
THERE will be no post mortems in An Spidéal this winter. That is for sure. Not after a season in which they claimed a first-ever county intermediate football championship and then followed it up by annexing the Connacht IFC club title at Tuam Stadium last Sunday.
Indeed, the Connemara Gaels showed real character and guile to hold off a determined second half rally from Roscommon champions Fuerty in a pulsating provincial decider – and, by doing so, An Spidéal became the sixth Galway side to win the Connacht intermediate title.
Having built up a 1-9 to 0-7 half-time lead against a Fuerty outfit that was reduced to 14 men late on in the opening period, An Spidéal were left scrambling when they were hit with five unanswered points in the 12 minutes after the interval.
Indeed, Fuerty would draw level three times in the second half but on each occasion An Spidéal found it within themselves to respond and hit the front again. All this was achieved through lightning precision on the counter-attack which, time after time, inevitably yielded a score.
Ultimately, it was Finnian Ó Laoi’s goal in the opening 90 seconds that proved to be the difference and, even at that early stage, Fuerty will kick themselves as they had kicked two wides through Niall Kilroy and Eamon Bannon.
On the resulting restart from the latter miss, Padraig Eoin Ó Curraoin took possession around the middle of the park. He distributed to Ó Laoi, who set off like a March hare – albeit in November – and raced uncontested through the Fuerty rearguard. Surprised or not that it had opened up for him in such a manner, Ó Laoi made the most of if and rifled his shot beyond Fuerty keeper Luke Byrne.
The helter skelter start did not stop there either as forward Sean Ó Curraoin then kicked a monster effort on five minutes before further points from goalkeeper Maghus Breathnach – a long range free – and Cormac Ó Laoi saw the Galway champions take a 1-3 to 0-1 lead after just 11 minutes. An Spidéal were humming.
For Fuerty’s part, Kilroy almost put in Aengus Lyons for an early goal – An Spidéal intercepted – before the roles were reversed with Lyons almost guiding Kilroy in, only for the latter to be fouled in the square.
However, Sligo referee Barry Judge gave the free on the whitewash of the square – why he did not see fit to give a penalty is a mystery – but, then again, it was one of a plethora of inaccuracies and inconsistencies to be found in Judge’s officiating of the contest. At any rate, Gearoid Ennis, who would finish with nine points on the day, converted the free.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’
It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.
Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.
“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”
The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.
He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.
A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.
But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.
Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.
They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.
Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.
The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.
Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites
The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.
Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.
Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.
“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.
“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.
The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.
That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.
The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.
Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.
However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.
It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.
Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.
More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway
More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.
Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.
Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996. Both men remain in custody.
A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.
A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.