Date Published: 09-Jun-2011
Four times winners of the Heineken Cup and current French champions, Toulouse. Two times winners and current holders of the Amlin Challenge Cup, Harlequins. Former Amlin Challenge Cup Winners and Aviva Premiership semi-finalists this year, Gloucester. Add Connacht, the so-called ‘poor relation’ of Irish rugby, to complete Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup for the 2011/2012 season.
Fans and all involved with the province must have been pinching themselves when they learned Connacht were in such illustrious company after the draw was made on Tuesday afternoon.
Given the strength of the pool challengers, it’s not surprising that the westerners, in their inaugural season in the premier competition in European club rugby union, have been installed as 500/1 rank outsiders to lift the cup and are 33/1 to qualify for the quarter-final stages, according to local bookmaker John Mulholland. In truth, those odds would probably be the same no matter what group the first-timers were drawn in.
In terms of getting to the knock-out stages – or even winning a game or picking up losing bonuses – Connacht are faced with a mammoth task but for getting ‘bums on seats’ at the Sportsground and creating a buzz about rugby in the west, the draw couldn’t have been kinder.
The French aristocrats will be a real crowd puller while renewing hostilities with Harlequins, a side that Connacht famously defeated 23-18 in the semi-final home leg of the European Challenge Cup (they lost the away leg by a bigger margin and the English outfit advanced) in 2004, and who they have met on several occasions since, should also prove intriguing. Gloucester were in Galway last season for a friendly but this will be the first competitive fixture between the sides.
All three matches will surely be sell-outs, with world class internationals gracing the Sportsground, and already the Connacht Branch are reporting a huge upsurge in sales of season tickets – the main selling point now is Connacht will host the winners of the Heineken Cup in the last four years (Leinster, Toulouse and Munster) at College Road next season.
“It’s a great draw, an absolute dream draw. It’s very exciting, not just for the management and players but also for the fans,” Connacht head coach, Eric Elwood told Tribune Sport.
Really? When Toulouse were drawn from the hat, did he not – just for a second – think ‘oh no’?
“No, I didn’t mind who we got to be honest and I’m happy with the draw. These three teams present great challenges but we also see it as a great opportunity now that we are finally in the Heineken Cup – there are more positives than negatives in this draw.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Judge adjourns Connemara assault case
Date Published: 08-May-2013
A date will be set next October for the trial of a 52-year old Connemara man, who is charged with assaulting traditional Irish musician Noel Hill five years ago.
Michael Folan from Teach Mór, Lettermullen, is charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Noel Hill at Tí Padraig Mairtín Beag in Leitir Mór, on St Stephen’s Day, 2008.
The matter had been listed for trial on several occasions before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in the intervening period.
It was referred to the High Court in Dublin last year for judicial review after Michael Folan said he wanted his trial heard ‘as Gaeilge’and that a bi-lingual jury be made available to hear the case.
At Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned the case for mention to October when it’s expected a date will be set for trial.
Bank of Ireland Galway Shopping Centre branch to close
Date Published: 10-May-2013
Bank of Ireland’s branch at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road is to close in July.
The branch is to merge into the BOI outlet at Galway Industrial Estate in Mervue.
Galway Bay fm news reports the 14 staff impacted are to be offered redeployment and there will be no job losses.
Galway RNLI rescues three people stranded on Hare Island
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway RNLI Lifeboat has come to the rescue of three students who got stranded on Hare Island after getting caught in the tide off Ballyloughan Beach.
The two girls and boy, in their late teens had gone for a walk and were spotted waving from the island by a local resident who contacted the emergency Services and Galway Lifeboat.
Conditions at the time (4pm) were very changeable with heavy showers.
Three members of the Lifeboat shore crew were working in the vicinity of the station at the time and launched the boat in six minutes.
The three students were picked up safely and brought back to the Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks where they were warmed up and given tea and did not require medical attention.