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Connacht are primed to give everything against the giants of Toulouse

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Connacht out half Jack Carty hands off Ulster's Iain Henderson during Friday night's Guinness Pro12 encounter at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

CONNACHT head coach Pat Lam sometimes still thinks like he’s a player. So, during his pre-match routine out on the pitch, he’ll often have a sneaky peek over at the opposition.

On Saturday, at the Sportsground (5.30pm, kick-off) he’ll do the same and steal a glance at Toulouse.

“Jeez, they’re big,” is something he’s regularly remarked of his opponents prior to kick-off in his playing days.

And that is sure to be his reaction when the giants of French rugby – giants both in terms of individual players’ physique and the club’s stature in the game – are on-ield warming up for the first pool match of the Champions Cup.

Size does matter. The four-times European cup winners certainly have a height, weight and bulk advantage. But Lam insists that won’t faze his charges.

“Without a doubt there is a difference in size. But we’re used to that,” said the New Zealand born Samoan.

“When I used to say ‘they’re big’, I used to get excited by that because it meant they’d go down hard, and it’d hurt more. But it goes back to our techniques and how we tackle and how we put the pressure on and get them down on the ground. We do a lot of work on that, around our tackling and contact work.

“Everyone goes down if you tackle well. If we can put pressure by keeping the ball, put pressure by kicking well and put pressure by defending well, right at the gain-line, it’s going to give us the best chance,” said Lam.

Connacht certainly won’t fear the visitors whom they have encountered on each of their two previous seasons in the top-flight in 2011/2012 and 2013/2014.

The aristocrats of the game came out on top on three occasions but Connacht’s awesome two-points victory over Toulouse in their own back yard in December three years ago will instil belief and confidence into the home dressing room.

So too will last Friday’s compelling win over Ulster. It was the first time in seven attempts Lam’s Connacht has got one over the northerners but what was most extraordinary about the result was it was achieved with so many frontline players out injured.

Midweek, Lam emphasised the importance of squad and, “making sure our weakest link is as strong as possible”.  Last Friday, against Ulster, that philosophy worked. Craig Ronaldson, who was scheduled to play 40 minutes with Galwegians, was instead pressed into action when Peter Robb pulled out before kick-off.

The centre, who could have been perceived as a weak link, was anything but and was hugely impressive in his first game since March. “Everyone prepares to play,” said Lam. “I don’t want anyone on that training field that’s not prepared to play. They’re not just making up the numbers.”

The numbers are depleted again this week but Lam was giving everyone an opportunity to prove their fitness ahead of the team announcement at noon Friday.

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

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Annaghdown pull it off in a gripping finale to group tie

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Bearna's Cathal Folan tries to shake off the attentions of Annaghdown's Conor Moloney during Tuesday's Senior Football Group 2 tie at Duggan Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Annaghdown 1-17

Bearna 0-8

Ivan Smyth at Duggan Park

Well, that was dramatic. Annaghdown squeezed through to the quarter finals of the seniotrchampionship in the most nailbiting 12 point win one will witness at Duggan Park on Tuesday night.

Annaghdown entered this game needing to win by 12 points or more if they were to reach the quarter finals at the expense of Milltown. With Annaghdown leading by 11 points and the clock ticking into the second and final minute of injury time, the winners engineered a free which goalkeeper James Healy fired over from 50m out to break Milltown hearts.

The men in maroon and white can now look forward to a quarter final with St. Michael’s, one which both sides will feel is winnable. Realistically their fate shouldn’t have been decided with the final kick of the game. Annaghdown led by the required margin at half time, 1-12 to 0-3, as a hammering appeared much more of a realistic option than a tense finale. However, Bearna certainly played the role of spoilers to a tee in the final half as they retained possession far better than in the opening half.

Annaghdown’s level also dropped but despite Frankie Burke seeing a penalty saved by James Keane, Galway’s sub goalkeeper in this year’s championship, they had managed to move 14 points in front after 55 minutes. Bearna’s resistance appeared to have broken but in a campaign which has seen them take successive heavy defeats, the city side hit back with points from Donal and Ryan Folan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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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Connacht Tribune

Stalemate as Sarsfields and Turlough serve up final epic

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Leon Connaire of Sarsfields secures possession against Turloughmore's Matthew Tarpey during the County U20 A Hurling Final at Duggan Park last Wednesday. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Sarsfields 0-23

Turloughmore 2-17

Eanna O’Reilly at Duggan Park

THE Under 20 hurlers of Sarsfields and Turloughmore couldn’t be separated in Ballinasloe last Wednesday evening after a titanic contest saw the sides finish level. Those in attendance certainly got their money’s worth from this final, as a high scoring thriller played out between two outstanding teams.

With 40 minutes played, Sarsfields were certainly the team in the driving seat as they held a six point lead after largely dominating the game. During the next five minutes however, Turlough hit 1-3 to come roaring back into the contest. The final quarter played out as a cliff hanger, with both sides edging ahead at different stages.

When Cillian Whelan sent over an injury time point for Turlough, it looked as though they had snatched the victory. However, there was one more twist in the story, with Sarsfields sub Jordan McMahon popping up to take a point at the death to force the final to a replay.

Any neutrals in the crowd at Duggan Park would hardly be objecting to another 60 minutes of fare between these teams, such was the quality on display. That replay is down for decision on Wednesday, October 5 (Duggan Park, 7:30pm) and will be eagerly anticipated.

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

Monivea-Abbey in trouble after latest narrow defeat

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St Michael's Gavin Summerville breaking away from Philip Muldowney of Monivea-Abbey during Saturday's Senior Football Group 3 contest at Tuam Stadium. Photos: David Cunniffe.

St. Michael’s 0-11

Monivea/Abbey 0-9

Ivan Smyth at Tuam Stadium

ST. Michael’s outscored Monivea/Abbey seven points to two in the second half at Tuam Stadium on Saturday as they secured top spot n Group 3.

This defeat ensures Monivea/ Abbey finished bottom as they now face a battle to avoid relegation. The second half summed up Monivea/Abbey’s championship campaign to date with no shortage of battling spirit or physicality, but they struggled to engineer chances as St. Michael’s were able to play on the counter attack once they took the lead in the third quarter.

This defeat meant Monivea/Abbey lost their fourth game of the championship, with each of those defeats coming by a single score. After a first half in which Monivea/Abbey appeared to rattle Colm Tummon’s side with their front-foot pressure, Garvan McDaid’s charges kicked just two second half points, both from frees.

With Cillian McDaid looking sharp in the opening half, the GAA/GPA All Star nominee was starved of possession in the final period. His marker Shane Connaughton was the game’s outstanding player as the centre back enjoyed an absorbing duel with McDaid while he was central to much of St. Michael’s’ positive attacking play.

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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