Connacht host Glasgow Warriors on opening weekend of new rugby season
BY JOHN FALLON
Each campaign has thrown up its own idiosyncrasies since Connacht entered the realm of professional rugby a quarter of century ago, but it’s safe to say they have never embarked on a new campaign with such uncertainty surrounding the season.
In other years, the future of the team itself was the focus, but now the structure of the competitions they play in, some of it not related to Covid-19, is where the uncertainty lies.
The PRO14, with last season’s final staged two weeks ago, will begin with 12 teams in it but by the time it concludes it may have 16 sides competing!
The two South African teams which featured for the last three seasons are gone. The Southern Kings have gone into liquidation; while the Cheetahs from Bloemfontein have been removed by the South Africa Rugby Union who this week paved the way for the Bulls from Pretoria, the Lions from Johannesburg, Durban’s Sharks and the Stormers from Cape Town to join a competition which started out two decades ago as the Celtic League.
The ‘Big Four’ from South Africa may join the PRO12/14/16 as early as next March, presuming Covid-19 restrictions allow it and the inevitable legal wrangling in South Africa — the Cheetahs, unsurprisingly, are heading for the lawyers’ office – is sorted out.
So, given that the competition begins with a dozen teams and a few more may join, the organisers have just made fixtures to cover the next few months. It doesn’t look very professional, does it?
“What I’m pleased with is that we’ve finally got 11 games we know we’ve got. We can plan for 11 games of football. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess,” said Connacht Andy Friend.
He’s travelled the world coaching more than any other Connacht coach, and the past six months has forced him, like everyone in charge of a team, to make it up as he goes along.
“What we’ve become really good at, mate, is being really flexible. I’ve lost ‘expectation’ out of my vocab and I don’t really expect anything now. I’ve replaced it with adaptability and being flexible,” added the Australian.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Bridie O’Flaherty delivers – from beyond the grave!
Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley
Even years after their deaths, some Galway politicians are still being credited with securing works.
At a recent meeting of Galway City Council, during discussion about the BusConnects project on the Dublin Road, it was outlined how a traffic lights junction would be installed at the entrance to Merlin Park Hospital as part of the overall works.
Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said there was nothing new about this proposal – it had been first mooted by the late Councillor Bridie O’Flaherty in The Connacht Sentinel newspaper more than 30 years ago.
Bridie, a former Mayor who retired from politics in 1999 and died in 2008, had for a long time campaigned for the lights.
Her daughter, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind), confirmed to the meeting it was at least 35 years since her mother had proposed traffic lights at the hospital entrance.
Another former mayor, Cllr Angela Lynch-Lupton (FG), who retired from politics in 2004 and died in 2007, was credited by Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) for championing a pedestrian bridge on the old Clifden Railway Bridge – a ‘Millennium Project’ that should have been built over 20 years ago but looks set to proceed in the coming years.
Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said credit for the bridge was also due to former Fianna Fáil Minister, Séamus Brennan, a Salthill man who was TD for Dublin South until his death in 2008.
“He put it forward as a Millennium Project and I was Mayor at the time,” said Cllr McDonnell.
Maybe when the projects are eventually brought to fruition, they could be named after their original supporters.
The Bridie O’Flaherty traffic light junction doesn’t necessarily trip off the tongue, but the (Séamus) Brennan Bridge has a ring to it.
(Photo by Joe O’Shaughnessy: The late Bridie O’Flaherty with her daughter Terry in 1999).
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Galway City centre streets to be dug up – yet again
From this Week’s Galway City Tribune – Just days after the annual tourist season kicked off with the St Patrick’s weekend festivities, an area of the city’s main throughfare is to be dug up yet again.
The City Council confirmed this week that “upgrade works” at the junction between High Street, Shop Street and Mainguard Street are to commence next week, drawing the ire of local business people and residents.
One local councillor and businessman said the works, which brought huge disruption while being carried out on other stretches of the route in recent years, should have been carried out while footfall was lower in January and February.
Cllr Níall McNelis told the Galway City Tribune that business people in the area were outraged at the news, and despite assurances from the Council that the works would be done “without major disruptions”, bitter experience has taught them otherwise.
“They’re outraged, to be blunt. They just can’t believe this is happening now,” he said.
“Everyone understands that these works are necessary, but this is going to take weeks out of what should be one of their busiest times.”
Works in the area were left incomplete as a result of the visit of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine in 2019.
In a statement issued by the Council, Director of Services Patrick Greene said the works should be “substantially completed by early June”.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.
What a melt: proposed bylaws put 20-minute limit on ice cream vans in Galway!
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Ice cream vans will only be allowed to sell to the public for 20 minutes before being obliged to move on to a different location if proposed new bylaws for casual trading in Galway are adopted.
The 2023 regulations to replace the 2011 bylaws will also outlaw any single use plastic products to be given out or sold by stall holders, including bottles, cutlery, containers, single use sachets, plates and straws. Compostable or reusable alternatives must be used instead of single use plastics.
The maximum time that the ice cream mobile unit can be stationary at any one location is 20 minutes.
Traders will avoid huge cost increases seen elsewhere – it will cost €267.50 annually per bay for Eyre Square (up marginally from €250). In St Nicholas’ Market it will be €69.50 per linear metre – generally equating to €139 for regular size pitches, an increase of €9.
Stall holders will again have to buy a separate licence to trade on Sundays and for the market Wednesday to Friday in July and August. But they will be able to set up shop for free at Christmas if they hold a licence for Saturday or Sunday.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read more on the draft Casual Trading Bylaws, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.