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Classroom reviews helping Connacht to stay top of the pile in Guinness PRO12

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The in-form Matt Healy who scored his ninth try of the campaign in Saturday's thrilling Guinness PRO12 victory over the Ospreys at the Sportsground.

By John Ivory

WITH just six games remaining for table-topping Connacht in the Guinness Pro12, Head Coach Pat Lam is relishing the challenge that lies ahead in the coming weeks.

His side recorded an eight-point win over the Ospreys last Saturday at the Sportsground and are enjoying being involved at the right end of the table as the season inches towards its climax.

“Every game, depending on where you are in the table has some significance. The weather starts getting better, the Six Nations have a couple more weeks to go and then it’s all guns blazing.

“It’s a great time of the year. I always look forward to it, it just so happens that we’re in a better place than we’ve ever been.’’

The ‘better place’ Lam alludes to is one point clear of Leinster at the summit of the table, however the eastern province have one game in hand.

Despite the somewhat surprising position they find themselves in – the Ospreys triumph was a record 11th win for Connacht in a season – Lam maintains their target is still attaining a place in top-tier European rugby.

“It’s top 6, but the actual goal is to qualify for Champions Cup. It turns into the top 5 if you haven’t got provinces from the right countries.

“You’ve got to have a Scots team, an Irish team, a Welsh team and an Italian team. There are so many unknowns and that probably is a good thing because that makes us focus on just what we have to do.

“We break it down again and our number one goal every week is to win and get the points. We just focus on winning.’’

Their preparation is something Lam prides himself on and his aim is to operate as close to international level as possible.

By achieving higher standards in training and preparation, he believes it makes performing on match-day that bit easier.

“What we are trying to do here is make sure that the preparation, the attention to detail, the hard work and the way we do things is as close to international rugby as possible.

“If we focus on every day, being on top of that and every one sharing that responsibility, then we have a better chance of replicating it (in matches).’’

A large part of the preparation Connacht now undertakes happens not on the rugby field, but in the confines of the classroom. Learning from mistakes is something that is vital and the intelligence shown by the squad is something that pleases Lam.

Recent weeks have seen the team shut out both the Scarlets and the Ospreys in their quest for a losing bonus point and it’s an obvious improvement from earlier in the campaign.

“The closing out of the game was crucial for us. What we do on the field – we keep it short and sharp. We video everything but the classroom sessions, that’s where the big learning starts. I place a big emphasis on that.

“We can get into training and implement it. The coaching group is doing a good job. Our main advantage is being able to learn fast.’’

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

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway stand up to pressure in penalty shoot-out

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Galway's Damien Comer follows the flight of the ball against Aaron McKay of Armagh during Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Galway 2-21

Armagh 3-18

(AET, Galway win 4-1 on penalties)

 John McIntyre at Croke Park

IT should never have come to this – extra time and penalties – as Galway footballers survived a late meltdown to eventually reach only the county’s second All-Ireland semi-final in 20 years.

This mad-cap, absorbing and marathon quarter-final at Croke Park on Sunday produced enough talking points to do justice to six games never mind one. It was bananas stuff at times and the hearts of rival supporters were repeatedly put through the ringer.

It was a hard-fought, bruising contest and though Galway will be nursing tired bodies and minds for a few days, they will be overjoyed and relieved to have come through such a searching examination of their championship credentials.

And don’t ever accuse these Galway players of not having sufficient bottle or of lacking steel. They could have collapsed in extra time after throwing away a winning hand in the nine minutes of stoppage time. Two giveaway goals and a shocking concession of possession which led to Rory O’Neill’s dramatic equaliser must half left the Tribesmen gutted.

They were then caught up in an ugly brawl as the teams returned to their dressing rooms ahead of extra time. It takes two to tango, but Armagh were undoubtedly the aggressors underlined by the appalling eye-gouging of Damien Comer.

The dust up marred a great battle and Galway will now be keeping their fingers crossed that any sanctions handed down won’t impact on their challenge for the upcoming All-Ireland semi-final against Derry on Saturday evening week at Croke Park.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway’s easy victory up North marred by knee injury to attacker Hennelly

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Galway defender Heather Cooney is challenged by Antrim's Aine Magill during Saturday's All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship clash in Dunloy. Photos: INPHO/John McVitty.

Galway 2-17

Antrim 0-6

Sarah Gaughran in Dunloy

THE Galway senior camogie team made it four wins from four in the All-Ireland championship on Saturday when making a successful long trip to Dunloy to take on the 2021 intermediate title holders Antrim.

Conditions were not ideal for the game, but Galway were tenacious throughout and grinded out a convincing victory. They will be concerned, however,  after sharpshooter Rebecca Hennelly picked up a knee injury at the end of the first half.

Emma Helebert and Sarah Dervan also went off with injuries and team manager Cathal Murray will be hoping to have his full compliment of players heading into the top of the table clash against Kilkenny at Kenny Park on Saturday,

It was the hosts Antrim, despite playing against a stiff breeze, who got off the mark first when Caitrin Dobbin broke through the Galway defence and slotted the ball over the bar.

Rebecca Hennelly responded with two points from play for Galway before Roisin McCormack levelled the game. The Tribeswomen than created two goal opportunities but credit must go to Catríona Graham in the Antrim net for pulling off fantastic saves.

Undaunted, Galway got four points without reply between the 11th and 17th minutes from Carrie Dolan (0-2, both frees), Sabina Rabbitte and Ailish O’Reilly to leave them 0-6 to 0-2 ahead. Antrim had a missed goal chance when Dobbin broke through the Galway defence only to see her shot blocked by the foot of ‘keeper Sarah Healy.

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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Connacht Tribune

Galway minors set up another date with Mayo after surviving frantic finale

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The Galway minor footballers celebrate their All-Ireland Championship semi-final victory over Derry at Parnell Park on Saturday. Photos: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

Galway 2-9

Derry 1-11

 John McIntyre at Parnell Park

THE GAA resurrection of the year is only one game away from being complete. And in an almost freakish scenario, the never-say-die Galway minor footballers will have that opportunity against the team which caused them so much misery in the Connacht championship.

When Galway trooped dejectedly out of MacHale Park a few weeks ago after coming up well short for the second time to Mayo in the province, it was long odds against Alan Glynn’s squad salvaging their season with an All-Ireland quarter-final looming against Leinster champions Dublin just six days later.

Throw in the legacy of a shock defeat to Leitrim in the round-robin series as well, it should have meant Galway were sitting ducks when moving outside the province. It seemed an unnecessary penance in the circumstances, but the boys in maroon somehow maanged to lift themselves for the challenges ahead despite that bruising Connacht campaign.

A thoroughly merited victory over Dublin in Tullamore highlighted the character and resilience in their ranks, and their spirits will have been lifted again by surviving a desperate late Derry rally in the All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park on Saturday.

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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