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Another hiding for Connacht

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Darragh Leader

Ospreys 45

Connacht 20

CONNACHT ended the RaboDirect Pro12 campaign with a fifth straight loss on Saturday, going down by six tries to three at the Liberty Stadium to a much superior Ospreys side. It was a familiar feeling for the Westerners as the defensive structures once again collapsed and will serve as a marker for the work that needs to be done in the off season.

It has been a distinctly positive week off the field for the province with the news of Mill Muliaina’s arrival on the back off the signing of prop Tom McCartney and (from under the noses of Leinster and Munster) centre Bundee Aki from New Zealand,while Ballina man Willie Ruane was announced as the new CEO of the Branch after a 10-month wait for the role to be filled.

Yet on the field, the end of the campaign has been poor as the defensive frailties and lack of experience came to the fore. The promising run of four straight wins in the spring is a distant memory at this stage. Five defeats, with a total of 27 tries conceded during them, sums up a big problem and one they’ll hope the experience of the Southern Hemisphere acquisitions will help rectify.

Connacht are a young squad full of Irish qualified players, only one of the 23 on Saturday (Dan Parks) is not currently eligible to wear the green of Ireland and while that is promising, it is clear that there is a need for reinforcements, especially after spending half the campaign without the services of Craig Clarke, whose very future remains in doubt.

The home side on Saturday were in low spirits coming into this after a shock defeat to Zebre ended their play off hopes with a round to spare, yet they were in determined mood all the same and never looked under pressure in terms of losing this contest.

An early Miah Nikora penalty did have Connacht in front in the opening stages and after Jeff Hassler’s try for the home side, a try from full back Darragh Leader (underlining a fine first season) had Connacht briefly back in front, but it was shortlived.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

Weld rolls back the years as Coltor proves best in feature

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Trainer Dermot Weld in the winners' enclosure at Ballybrit on Monday evening after saddling Caltor to land the featured Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap. Photo: Iain McDonald.

HE may be disposed as the ‘King of Ballybrit’, but Dermot Weld hasn’t lost his touch for training big-race winners at the Galway Summer Festival.

Monday’s feature – the €100,000 Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap – saw a maximum field of 20 runners face the starter and through the stable currently dominant at Galway threw six darts at the bullseye, it was Weld who hit the target with 14/1 shot Coltor.

A second consecutive win for jockey Finian Maguire in the most prestigious event on the racing calendar for amateur riders, however, looked unlikely as one of Willie Mullins’ half-dozen challengers travelled by far the best of the field around the home turn.

The well-fancied Foveros and Aubrey McMahon had just picked off the lone UK challenger, the pace-setting Litterale Ci, leaving the six-year-old poised to give the Mullins yard a fourth win in the last five runnings of the two-mile contest.

Though hard at work on market drifter Coltor, Maguire finally got the penny to drop inside the final 100 yards and Weld’s challenger swooped close to the line to deny Foveros by the three quarters of a length.

It was Weld’s first win in Monday’s feature since the Jane Mangan partnered Midnight Music obliged in 2012, prior to which he had won the race three times in a row between 2007 and 2009. This was his eighth victory in the race as a trainer.

“It’s a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I also won it four times as an amateur jockey, starting as a 15-year-old,” said Weld.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hurling legend Canning to hang up his inter county playing boots

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MOMENT IN TIME: Joe Canning celebrates scoring Galway's winning point against Tipperary in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final. Joe announced his inter-county retirement this week.

HE couldn’t stay going forever and the rumour mill was in overdrive after Galway’s wipe-out by Waterford in Thurles last Saturday, but the thought of never again seeing Joe Canning in a maroon jersey is a scary one.

Recognised as one of the game’s greatest ever players and hurling’s record championship scorer of all-time, the Portumna ace has called time on a brilliant career ahead of his 33rd birthday in October.

A superb striker, lethal free-taker and the best exponent of the sideline cut we have ever seen, Canning’s extraordinary scoring deeds on the hurling fields will stand the test of time and he deserves to be feted in the same legendary company as Mick Mackey, Christy Ring, Jimmy Doyle and Henry Shefflin.

He burst onto the inter-county scene in 2008 and almost single-handily prevented Cork from winning their All-Ireland qualifier clash in Thurles, scoring 2-12 in a sensational individual display.

Many more were to come for Galway and if one was to nominate a moment in time from his inter-county playing days, it would surely be his superb winning point from the Cusack Stand side of the field in the Tribesmen’s epic 2017 All-Ireland triumph over Tipperary.

That was the year Canning finally got his hands on a cherished All-Ireland senior medal as Galway ended a near 30-year wait for the McCarthy Cup by overcoming Waterford in the All-Ireland final at Croke Park.

His tally of nine points against the same county in Saturday’s disappointing qualifier loss was enough for him to overhaul Shefflin as the championship’s record scorer – Canning assembling an extraordinary 27 goals and 485 points in nine games less.

Five times an All-Star, Hurler of the Year in 2017, winner of two minor and one U21 All-Ireland medal, Canning was also a strong presence in the county’s National League triumphs of 2010 and ’17.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

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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

Flattering Galway footballers blown away by Mayo impressive in second-half

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Galway's Shane Walsh gets the ball away against Lee Keegan of Mayo during Sunday's Connacht Senior Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

Mayo 2-14

Galway 2-8

NO elite GAA team in the country has had their fortunes turned upside down more by Covid-19 than the Galway footballers. Flying high before the pandemic hit Ireland last Spring, the Tribesmen have been struggling to get off the ground in the interim.

Since the resumption of inter-county activity last October, Galway have played nine competitive matches and bar league and championship wins over Roscommon, it’s been one defeat after another. Not alone that, they shipped a couple of terrible pastings in the league and have also lost their Division One status.

Their latest defeat came in only the second ever Connacht Final to be staged at Croke Park last Sunday. Unlike the county’s hurlers the previous day, Galway weren’t caught napping or passive in the opening-half. Padraic Joyce’s team were up for the fight.

Despite losing two potentially influential players – Seán Kelly and Rob Finnerty – due to leg injuries at opposite ends of the field inside the opening 25 minutes, an undaunted and well-organised Galway had the champions on the rack at half-time.

Five points clear (2-5 to 0-6) after two thunderbolts from Shane Walsh and Damien Comer, Galway were throwing down the gauntlet to Mayo in no uncertain terms. They had worked themselves into a position where regaining the Nestor Cup was a strong possibility.

Unfortunately, Galway’s challenge disintegrated on the resumption – a scenario not helped by a shoulder injury to Walsh sustained in an off-the-ball incident before the break which eventually forced his retirement. They didn’t score at all in the third quarter and only managed three pointed frees from Matthew Tierney over the entire second-half.

Sure, the strong wind was a factor in helping a more seasoned Mayo team take over, but the scale of Galway’s collapse made for unpalatable viewing. Players like Paul Conroy, Johnny Heaney, Dylan McHugh, Kieran Molloy, Tierney, Comer and Walsh who were on the front foot over the opening 35 minutes became increasingly marginalised.

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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