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Arch rivals Portumna and St. Thomas’ are drawn in the same group

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Gort players Gerard O'Donoghue, Richard Cummins, Michael Cummins and Conor Helebert with the Tom Callanan Cup after last year’s county final triumph.

GALWAY’S last two All-Ireland club champions – Portumna and St. Thomas’ – have found themselves in the proverbial dogfight after they were pooled together in a ‘Group of Death’ in this year’s county senior hurling championship.

Holders Gort also face a number of tricky assignments. They were pitted against 2010/11 All-Ireland club winners Clarinbridge and South Galway rivals Ardrahan when the eagerly anticipated draws took place at the Salthill Hotel on Monday evening.

With it agreed that last year’s 2014 semi-finalists – Gort, Portumna, Craughwell and Beagh – would be seeded to head up the respective four groups, all eyes turned to the other leading contenders, such as St. Thomas’, Loughrea and Ardrahan, to see what drama could be produced.

The draw didn’t disappoint with the main talking point quickly becoming Group C or, to use the well-worn cliché, the ‘Group of Death’. Consisting of five teams with two to advance to the last eight, St. Thomas’ and Portumna have been joined by Turloughmore, Mullagh and 2014 quarter-finalists Killimordaly.

Aside from the impending battle between former All-Ireland club winners Portumna and St. Thomas’, who needed a replay to separate them when they last met in the 2013 county semi-final – Portumna taking the win on a 0-18 to 2-11 scoreline – there are various other sub plots to this group.

None more so than that of last year’s defeated finalists Portumna and Mullagh. In 2014, former Clare trainer Mike McNamara had Mullagh under his stewardship but since then he has departed that set-up and joined Portumna’s backroom staff. It should add some spice to that encounter.

Then you have Turloughmore, who were at the centre of the controversy that saw the suspension of the senior hurling championship for two months last year after they contested their expulsion from the competition for fielding an illegal player. They should be eager to prove a point in 2015.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Gort have been drawn in a six-team group which also consists of Ardrahan, Padraig Pearses, Clarinbridge, Athenry – buoyed by their U-21 ‘A’ win last year – and Kiltormer. Gort should have enough to see them through to the knockout stages with 2014 quarter-finalists Ardrahan front-runners for the other spot.

The other six-team group – Group A – will be a free-for-all. 2014 semi-finalists Craughwell will renew their rivalry with Tommy Larkins, the side they accounted for in the quarter-finals. City outfits Castlegar and Liam Mellows – two of the dark horses in the championship – and Kilnadeema/Leitrim and Carnmore make up this section.

Beagh head up the remaining five-team group – Group D – where they are joined by one of the leading contenders Loughrea, Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry, Sarsfields and 2014 county intermediate champions Cappataggle.

Two from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals with the rest of the teams to play off for the remaining four places in next year’s 12-team restructured Senior ‘A’ competition. The other 10 teams will make up Senior ‘B’, along with this year’s intermediate finalists.

Kinvara, relegated from senior in 2014, will be favourites to secure one of those places, with Ahascragh/Fohenagh, Abbeyknockmoy and Rahoon/Newcastle sure to lead the chase for the other spot.

CITY TRIBUNE

Referee shortage sees local games called off

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The Salthill Devon side that beat Corrib Celtic 4-1 in Drom last Friday night. Back row from left: Jackson Da Silva, Andrew Connolly, Cillian Doyle, Shane O’Rourke, Calum Crowe, and Arek Mamala. Front: Matthew Barrett, Darren Darcy, Matthew Murray, Michael Gallagher and Vinny Faherty. Photos: Iain McDonald.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

It is not often that Mervue United have to wait until the third series of games in the Premier Division to get their first win, but after earlier losses to Maree/Oranmore and Athenry they finally secured their first success on the all-weather at Fahy’s Field on Sunday morning.

A 2-1 win over St Bernard’s moved them off the foot of the table, but in a close contest it was an outcome that could have gone either way. Mayo native Eoin Prendergast took both his goals well, although they were of the simple variety as deliveries over the top exposed the visitors cover and the former Conn Rangers striker was left with simple tap-in’s as they led by two at the break.

In contrast the St Bernard’s reply was a cracking effort as Matty Finn crossed from the right and the inrushing Paddy Mullins headed powerfully past Rob Carr to pull one back.

The visitors had plenty of opportunities to get back on level terms, but it was an occasion when their finishing let them down. Twice Dillon Murphy threatened a breakthrough, but his opening effort few across the face of goal; before failing to connect with a Keith Forde delivery.

Brian Moran had an effort that was easily gathered by Rob Carr, before Matty Finn was well off target with a late chance. All the opportunities were not at the one end, as Mervue threatened when Robert Carroll headed over following a Eli Sheedy corner; while Prendergast missed a great chance to complete his hat-trick, but fired over from in front of goal after a neat knockdown by Stephen Larkin set him up.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Lyons’ spectacular bicycle kick carries day for United

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Mikie Rowe of Galway United and Cork City's Cian Coleman in a race for possession during Friday night's First Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park.

Galway United  2

Cork City 1

By Mike Rafferty at Eamonn Deacy Park

THERE is no doubt that the Galway United players will have had more of a pep in their step at training this week as their come-from-behind victory over Cork City at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night finally ended their five match winless streak and. hopefully, in the process installed a bit of confidence in their own ability.

No doubt the fact that the visitors would have clinched the Airtricity First Division title if they were to win was a further incentive for the home side to raise their game to a level that had gone missing in recent outings.

However, United did fall behind for the fourth game in succession, before two goals in a three minute spell by Wilson Waweru and Charlie Lyons rescued the situation and moved them to within seven points of the league leaders. United do enjoy a game in hand and while they are free this weekend, their next outing away against Treaty United will bring them level on games played with Cork City.

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

Connacht thrashed by Ulster but internationals return for tough South African trip

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Connacht's Caolin Blade who scored their only try in Saturday's heavy URC defeat to Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium.

By JOHN FALLON

ANDY Friend says Connacht need to pick up the pieces quickly from an opening night hammering (36-10) to Ulster after going down by five tries to one in Belfast.

Ulster dominated the opening half and were good value for their 14-3 lead as Connacht had to defend for long periods of a half littered with mistakes by both sides.

Centres Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey were dominant and the two combined for the opening score after 27 minutes, before 21-year old hooker Tom Stewart crowned his first start by punishing poor defending when he looped around a lineout to score three minutes from the break.

Connacht finished the half with a boost when Conor Fitzgerald landed a penalty from 35 metres to cut the gap to 11 points but they fell apart after the restart, coughing up six penalties in ten minutes.

Scrum-half Nathan Doak extended the lead with a 45th minute penalty and then he touched down for a try six minutes later when Stewart was stopped just short.

Doak’s third conversion made it 24-3 as both sides emptied their benches and Ulster secured the bonus point when full-back Stewart Moore got over after Connacht No.8 Paul Boyle was binned for offiside.

Replacement scrum-half Caolin Blade got over for a consolation try ten minutes from time after former Leinster out-half David Hawkshaw also impressed after coming on, but other than the performance of another ex-Leinster player, flanker Josh Murphy, there were few other consolations as Ulster finished on a high with replacement prop Callum Reid getting the touchdown and Doak converting from the right.

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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