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Callanan’s heroics secures win for Galway

Stephen Glennon

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Galway's Padraig Mannion looks to clear his lines under pressure from Kilkenny's Mark Kelly and Jonjo Farrell. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway 0-20

Kilkenny 0-18

For the second year running, Kinvara goalkeeper Colm Callanan produced the heroics against Kilkenny in their National League group fixture – only, on this occasion, his efforts were duly rewarded as Galway picked up another vital home victory of their Spring campaign at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

When the sides met in the corresponding fixture at Nowlan Park 12 months ago, Callanan’s agility and bravery denied Kilkenny duo Mark Kelly and Walter Walsh what looked like certain goals in the closing quarter to ensure Galway’s scoring difference, despite losing 2-16 to 1-16, remained virtually intact.

On Sunday, Callanan was called into action, producing a series of top drawer saves with two minutes remaining to deprive substitute Kevin Kelly, on the double, and Jonjo Farrell in a frenetic passage of play that, ultimately, decided the destination of the two league points on offer.

By this stage, Galway held a dangerous two-point advantage, 0-19 to 0-17, and when Kilkenny – who had hit the post with a John Power effort moments earlier – looked to do what they do best, it required a steadfastness in Galway’s play that in the past they have often lacked. Yet, not on this occasion.

Farrell did subsequently reduce the margin to a single point for the All-Ireland champions with time almost up but Callanan’s string of saves, along with a clinical free from substitute Joe Canning, ensured the Tribesmen held their nerve to claim the spoils.

What has been most pleasing about Galway’s endeavours so far in 2015 is that they are showing a level of consistency from game to game. Three solid displays in the National League – reaping two victories – in addition to the Walsh Cup win have been hugely positive.

It just remains to be seen if they can take their game to the next level when they get their championship underway this Summer. That, really, has been the crux of their problem in recent seasons – the failure to weave the positives of league showings into a garment fit for the championship catwalk. Too often, it has been a case of the Emperor’s new clothes.

Padraig Mannion, with another outstanding display, John Hanbury and Johnny Coen looked the part in the full-back unit while the half-back division, especially David Collins, dealt admirably with an opposing line that Galway have traditionally struggled with in the past decade or so against Kilkenny.

In this regard, Gort’s Greg Lally, who, never shirking a challenge, had to withdraw late through injury, can be happy with his first start in the jersey. He strengthens an area where incumbent Gearoid McInerney, Gort’s Aidan Harte and the club-tied Daithí Burke will also be vying for inclusion.

Up front, the return of Joe Canning – who came on at half-time after returning from a finger injury – was also pivotal in this win. He scored four points, the first coming at the end of a super move involving Lally and Andy Smith while his second was simply a sublime sideline cut.

That effort came at a vital time given Kilkenny were after reeling off three points through the lively Richie Hogan – two from play – to bring the Cats back within two as the game entered the final quarter. With Jason Flynn for some reason withdrawn at this stage, Galway needed another finisher in attack and Canning provided that, particularly with his two late frees. They were by no means easy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Saltonstall joins an elite club in tight finish to Galway Mile

John McIntyre

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Galway jockey Leigh Roche drives out Walking On Glass, green colours, to win the Latin Quarter Handicap at Ballybrit on Tuesday.

THE value of course and distance form at Ballybrit was again underlined on Tuesday evening when Saltonstall joined an exclusive club in landing the Colm Quinn BMW Mile for the second year running.

But connections of the Ado McGuinness trained six-year-old had to endure an agonising wait before being declared the winner after a desperate photo finish with another 11/1 chance, Njord, at a near-deserted Galway.

In replicating the achievement of both Pinch Hitter and Riven Light in the past, it took an inspired ride from apprentice Gavin Ryan to nail the unlucky runner-up which looked to have the €75,000 feature sewn up entering the final furlong.

Seven lbs higher than when triumphant 12 months ago, Saltonstall flew up the hill and flashed past the post with the Jessica Harrington trained Njord, provoking a lengthy photo finish.

The smart money was on a dead heat, but Saltonstall eventually got the verdict – a frustrating outcome for Harrington, who also saddled the third and fourth, Only Human, and the 9/2 market leader, Tauran Shaman, respectively.

There was success for local jockey Leigh Roche in the concluding Latin Quarter Handicap when Walking on Glass (28/1) bounced back to form. Always travelling sweetly, the five-year-old made smooth progress in the dip and gradually reeled in Conron on the climb to the post

Portumna owner Tony Deegan saw his colours carried to victory as 100/30 favourite Out On Friday finally broke its maiden status in the Caulfield Industrial Handicap (Div.1) under Colin Keane. The winner is trained near Birr by Philip Byrne.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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

West take their chances to advance to the last eight

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West United's Nathan Ward comes under pressure from Mikey Verdego, Conor Devlin, Aidan Coyle (left) and Colm Kelly (6) of Galway Hibs.

West United 2

 Hibernians 0

Two second-half headers sealed a home win for West United at South Park on Sunday as they saw off a Hibernians side who were much improved on early season form and indeed were probably the better side in this Connacht Junior Cup last sixteen contest.

It was the visitors who had wind advantage in the opening half, but while they enjoyed plenty of possession, they rarely threatened Aaron Connolly’s goal and such was the strength of the elements, one felt an advantage was going to be required at the break.

Rather surprisingly, the second-half fell into a pattern not expected, as the visitors continued to play the better football and do most of the attacking, but they generally floundered when facing the West central defensive duo of Oisin Connolly and Denis Lydon. The pair were outstanding for the home side and, in reality, were overworked, as Hibernians tried to rescue something from the game.

For the home side, their only first-half opportunity came on 44 minutes when a cracking left-footed effort by Nathan Ward came back off a post. Otherwise, play was mostly concentrated on the Town goal, but set-pieces provided the only outlet for the visitors to get off the mark.

Indeed, even getting past the defensive unit was a difficulty as Aidan Coyle and Stephen Walsh struck numerous free-kicks into the wall. In open play, efforts off target by Shane Hulgraine and Lee Keogh were the closest Martin Devlin’s charges went to a scoring reward.

The resumption saw the hosts take a quick advantage of the elements when, 52 minutes in, Nathan Ward took advantage of a Gary Matthews cross that was originally cleared up in the air and with a backwards header, his effort looped beyond PJ Ward to make it 1-0.

The probing of Niall Rooney, Colin Kelly and Shane Hulgraine kept West on their toes at the back, but apart from a few goalmouth scrambles and set-piece deliveries, they never clearly got a sight of Connolly’s goal.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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

Big blow for Galway trainer as Presenting Percy is moved from Kelly’s stable

John McIntyre

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Two-time Cheltenham festival winner Presenting Percy with Pat Kelly at his stables in Craughwell. The popular nine-year-old has been moved to Gordon Elliott's yard this week.

THE horse box driver rumbled through the parish of Craughwell on Monday morning certain of his destination, but unsure how to get there.

In an era where bad news travels fast, within hours the horse racing fraternity knew that Pat Kelly’s stable had been stripped of its star.

Two-time Cheltenham festival winner and one of the most popular horses in training, Presenting Percy, has headed to new pastures – Gordon Elliott’s yard in Longwood, Co Meath.

It’s a devastating blow for the small-time Kelly stable which has successfully mixed it with the sport’s big operations at different stages over the past three decades.

And not alone has Presenting Percy departed the West, but seven other horses carrying Philip Reynolds’ colours in the Kelly stable are also being dispersed to new handlers.

The decision was a tough one for Reynolds, who has enjoyed spectacular success at the Cheltenham festival through the exploits of Presenting Percy and the ill-fated Mall Dini, also trained by Kelly.

These triumphs for the low-key, media shy Galway handler fascinated the racing public and when Presenting Percy lined up for his first crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 – the blue riband of chasing – he was sent off the market leader. Punters love an underdog story and Kelly fitted the bill perfectly.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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