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Clinical champs overcome early rustiness to advance

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Corofin 1-14

An Cheathrú Rua 0-10

An Cheathrú Rua might well be disappointed that they didn’t pull off a shock win in Pearse Stadium last Saturday evening, or at least put it up to Corofin for a bit longer in the Round 4 contest. The Connemara men had the better of Corofin for large swathes of the game only for the defending county champions to finally put their foot on the gas during the final third of the match.

The sides were level at half-time, 0-6 each, but An Cheathrú Rua should really have been at least a point or two up. Corofin were having their first championship outing since the end of May and the rust was all too apparent on Kevin O’Brien’s charges. Their passing was sloppy, their intensity was lacking but An Cheathrú Rua couldn’t take full advantage.

Corofin have been the dominant force in Galway football in the last number of years for a reason, however, and they upped their game considerably in the second period to leave their opponents in their wake. They outscored An Cheathrú Rua 1-8 to 0-4 during that final 30 minutes and probably had a couple of extra gears had they really been needed.

The momentum of the game, which had been strongly in An Cheathrú Rua’s favour, began to swing early in the second half. Oisín Ó Gríofa had put Micheál Ó Loideáin’s side ahead, 0-7 to 0-6, but three wides in the next ten minutes, including an inexplicably missed 14m free from Cillín de Paor, slowed An Cheathrú Rua’s progress. Corofin, on the other hand, were clinical.

A minute after Ó Gríofa had put An Cheathrú Rua ahead, Michael Farragher played a long ball into Joe Canney, the lively corner-forward popped a pass of to Jason Leonard and he made no mistake in levelling the scores. Ninety seconds later, Farragher again found Canney, who again laid it off to a supporting teammate, Kieran Molloy this time, and Molloy put Corofin into a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Just after de Paor missed his close-range free, Barry O’Donovan nailed a ‘45 for Corofin to confirm the shift in momentum. Corofin were soon five points to the good, 0-12 to 0-7, as the game entered the final quarter, Joe Canney, Gary Sice and Jason Leonard all adding to their total.

An Cheathrú Rua continued to look for a way back into the match and they had the gap back to a goal with a little over ten minutes remaining thanks to a Cillín de Paor point from play and a ‘45 from Oisín Ó Gríofa. Corofin, however, always looked to have the measure of their opponents at that stage.

They came within inches of an opening goal in the 50th minute only for Pádraig Ó Loideáin to deny Gary Sice with a superb last-ditch block. The respite did not last long, however, as Bernard Power converted the resulting ‘45.

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune

 

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Devon trip-up in Athenry to lose ground in title race

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Knocknacarra's Davy Knight moves in to challenge Ricky Kent of Tuam Celtic at Cappagh Park, last weekend. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Athenry 1

Salthill Devon 0

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

With a one round league there is not much room for error and in Moanbawn on Wednesday evening, Athenry played as if their lives depended on it as they saw off their fellow Premier Division title challengers in a bruising encounter.

A Cole Connolly goal on 18 minutes was all that separated the teams at the finish, but in fairness the home side offered the greater attacking threat on the night and should have won with something more to spare. For those who witnessed the occasion, it was compulsive viewing.

The commitment and passion brought to the game by both sides was honest as all the players offered everything for their sides cause. However, much as Salthill Devon tried, they were outmanoeuvred by a home side who always offered something extra.

For the duration, it was Athenry who threatened the most and carried the more threat in attack, but twice in the opening half it took two brilliant reflex saves by home custodian TJ Forde to keep them in the game.

A snap shot on six minutes by Gary Shanahan was tipped over at close range by the goalkeeper and he repeated the feat later when denying Jackson de Silva after the big Brazilian got his head to a Timmy Molloy corner. Those efforts aside Devon got very little breathing space from the home back four of Gary O’Connell, Dan Cunningham, Morgan Leggett and Declan Cullen.

After Colm O’Donovan could not connect with a diving header following a Ryan Shaughnessy cross, the home side took the lead shortly afterwards, when visiting custodian Arek Mamala had a clearance half-blocked by Connolly and the rebound fell kindly for the Craughwell native as he executed the perfect lob over the stricken goalkeeper and into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Lions debut for Aki

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Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw will renew their centre partnership tomorrow when the Lions take on Japan. Photo: INPHO/James Crombie.

Bundee Aki will become the fourth Connacht player to pull on a Lions jersey after he was named in the starting XV that will take on Japan tomorrow in Edinburgh in a challenge game ahead of the summer’s trip to South Africa.

Aki will renew his Connacht and Ireland centre partnership at Murrayfield with Robbie Henshaw in a side featuring six Irish players, with a seventh on the bench.

“That combination obviously goes back to the Connacht days,” Lions head coach, and former Connacht and Ireland head coach, Warren Gatland explained. “It’s the two Connacht lads coming together and I think they are obviously great mates as well, so that kind of helps.”

Aki follows in the footsteps of Ray McLoughlin, John O’Driscoll, and Ciaran Fitzgerald in becoming a Lion while still playing for Connacht, and Gatland says he expects the Connacht man to surprise a few people with the various facets to his game.

Henshaw had moved on to Leinster by the time he was picked for the 2017 tour to New Zealand, but having played against club sides Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues, he had to withdraw from before playing in a test match after picking up an injury against the Hurricanes, but Gatland is expecting great things from their partnership.

“A lot of people sort of see Bundee as someone . . . and we know he is capable of getting the ball across the gain line, but he has got a lot more than just that to offer.

“He has got some real rugby skill, some great footwork, and a passing and offloading game. So, we are expecting some real quality rugby out of both of those two men,” Gatland said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Galway left with lessons to learn after league final loss

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Galway defender Siobhan Gardiner is about to challenge Kilkenny’s Miriam Walsh duruing the National Camogie League final at Croke Park on Sunday Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

By Eanna O’Reilly

WHEN Galway look back on Sunday’s league final defeat to Kilkenny, they will undoubtedly focus on the third quarter of the game as the period when things went badly wrong. After dominating the opening half, with a three-point lead at the interval, Galway appeared to be in a strong position. By the 39th minute, however, the Tribeswomen found themselves five points behind after an extraordinary turnaround from Brian Dowling’s Kilkenny side.

During that period, the Cats scored 1-5 without reply (all from play) to put themselves firmly in the driving seat. This eight-point turnaround forced Cathal Murray’s side to chase the game for the remainder, which they did admirably, drawing level by the 60th minute. However, the surrender of a strong half time position was something they will be very disappointed with.

Galway began brightly, with some excellent attacking play early in the game. Catherine Finnerty showed her running threat in the opening half, drawing three fouls from the Kilkenny backs. Carrie Dolan had a tremendous first half, taking two good points from play along with five pointed frees. Dolan hit two from the sideline on the Cusack Stand side, from very difficult angles, which were superb.

Sarah Spellman worked hard in the half forward line and had some effective moments, while the inside trio looked dangerous. Ailish O’Reilly, Siobhán McGrath and Aoife Donohue carried a major threat when supplied with possession. McGrath almost put Finnerty through on goal and O’Reilly linked up well with Dolan for two points, while she was fouled for another pointed free.

Donohue drew two fouls, which were pointed, while she also scored herself after a great move involving Niamh Kilkenny and Finnerty. Galway created a major goal chance when Spellman’s attempted shot broke to Dolan, but her effort was saved by Aoife Norris. Unfortunately for the Galway free taker, she missed her easiest placed ball of the day just before half-time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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