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.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.