Date Published: 19-May-2011
at the sportsground
Connacht rugby took another major step forward at the Sportsground on Saturday as the Junior Inter-provincial squad did the unthinkable by completing a Grand Slam in comprehensive style against Munster.
Having promised a breakthrough at this grade for the previous two years, the 2011 crop delivered in some style this season with a bonus point win over Ulster, a ground breaking victory against Leinster in Donnybrook and the most controlled of final day performances against the men from Munster.
Playing against the wind in the first half, Connacht trailed 9-5 with captain and Monivea stalwart Kevin Higgins finishing off a try made by Paddy Pearson, Rory O’Connor and Tuam’s inspirational open side Mike Ward.
That set the tone for a hugely impressive second half display which combined smart tactical rugby with an explosive high tempo attack. It yielded 21 points without reply to seal the title which has eluded the province throughout its long history, and at times seemed like an impossible goal.
An uncoverted try from Mata Fafita put Connacht 10-9 up before Paddy Pearson stretched their lead with a penalty. From there on, there was no holding the home team as a try from Aaron Spring, a conversion asd a penalty from Pearson, and a penalty from reserve Ger O’Connor put the seal on mould-breaking triumph.
It is important to stress, however, that this wasn’t a major surprise. Since the 2009 campaign where only a last minute Leinster try in Navan stood between Seamus King’s men and outright victory, Connacht have been a major force in this competition. Last season saw them slip up again and this year really did have an all or nothing feel to it from the outset.
The outcome will force many to sit up and take note of the continuing progress of rugby in the province. The 2007 inter-provincial winning youths’ squad broke new ground when they won a first title, they won two more after that and a tone was set. Now the progress at Junior Club level is taking shape.
Despite being vastly outnumbered in terms of playing numbers, clubs and, as a result, resources, Connacht are producing players of the quality to match their neighbours. That is indicative of a province where rugby appears to be growing at a faster pace than anywhere.
The sum of all the parts doesn’t add up just yet but the numbers are looking good and Seamus King sees plenty of reason to be optimistic.
“It comes down to pride, the fact that we live in the outmost point of Europe has elements of the frontiers to it, but I’m so proud of our squad. It was tremendously difficult picking the 22 never mind the 15, there is so much talent available now. It’s not just the quality of player, it’s in the heart and head. They’re proud to be from where they are which makes this so great.”
What makes this competition so fascinating is the amateur element. It is the only level beyond underage where provincial honors can be won by no professionals and therefore the essence of the competition hasn’t changed since its inception in the late 60s.
Connacht have never won it for some straight forward reasons – they just didn’t have the resources, playing numbers, coaching and game to take on and beat all three provinces.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.