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Connacht land Wasps and Toulouse in Champions Cup

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Connacht and Toulouse players shake hands after their game in the Sportsground in the 2013/14 Champions Cup. The sides have been paired together for a third time following the draw for the 2016/17 competition this week. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht Rugby will renew acquaintances with Toulouse, the most successful European club of all time, in next season’s European Champions Cup following the draw in Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon.

Connacht were top seeds for the draw due to the fact they were the Pro12 champions, and Pat Lam’s side were also joined in Pool 2 by Wasps. Zebre were also drawn with Connacht for the third time, meaning there is every chance that two sides will qualify from the pool for the quarter-final stages.

“First and foremost we are proud to be in the competition and among the very best clubs in Europe,” Connacht head coach, Pat Lam, told EPC Rugby after the draw.

“This is a reward for what my players achieved last season. You want to play against the best and we’ve got two previous winners in our pool – Wasps, who were unlucky not to reach the final last season; and Toulouse, the most successful team in European Cup history,” he said.

This is the fourth time Connacht will compete in the Champions Cup, and it is the third time they have been paired with Toulouse, and with Zebre.

Connacht were joined as top seeds for this year’s draw by French Top14 champions, Racing 92; and English Premiership champions, Saracens. A draw was then held between the three league runners-up – Leinster (PRO12), Toulon (Top14) and Exeter Chiefs (Premiership) – to see which two sides would be promoted to top seeding, with the balls containing the names of Exeter and Leinster drawn from the hat.

The five top seeds were all allocated a pool, with Connacht the last name from the hat. Wasps was the second side drawn from the tier 2 teams and was placed in Pool 2. Northampton Saints were the first tier three side out of the hat and were drawn in Pool 4, and when Toulouse was the second name out of the tier three hat, they were automatically placed in Pool 2 as Pools 1, 3, and 5 already contained French sides. The final team to join Pool 2 was Zebre.

Toulouse finished 5th in the 2015/16 Top14, which earned them a quarter-final place against a Racing 92 side that has Ronan O’Gara as its kicking coach. Toulouse lost the quarter-final 21-16 to the side that went on to claim the Top14 title with a 29-21 win over Toulon last Friday.

They have won the European Cup four times (1996, 2003, 2005, and 2010), which is more than any other club; while they have also been beaten finalists on two occasions, losing to Wasps in 2004 and Munster in 2008.

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

Connacht Tribune

Barna collect two cups in a week after seeing off Stars

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Barna's Cathal Folan breaking past the challenge of Tuam Stars' John Donnellan during the 2020 County junior football final at Pearse Stadium on Friday evening. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy

BARNA 0-13

TUAM STARS 1-8

Mark Walsh at Pearse Stadium

FOR the second time in seven days, Barna brought a cup back out the R336 road from Salthill.

Last Friday evening’s victory in the Junior A County final of 2020 – played in June of 2021 – coming on the coattails of the West Board win over St Michael’s, means that Barna will have the distinction of fielding teams at senior and junior level this year.

That Barna harbour that distinction, and not Tuam Stars, is something the North Board club have only to look in the mirror to find the exact answer as to why.

Tuam scored 1-8, and left 24 other scoring chances by the seaside, including a total of 15 wides. In their changed strip of green and yellow that resembled the Meath jersey, Tuam were actually the greater contributor to the good football played in sublime conditions on a balmy summer’s evening. Dry sod, fast ball, Ray Silke would have approved.

Some of the shots Tuam took on, and did not convert, in the final quarter were low percentage ones. Not having played a competitive game in eight months, since the North Board Junior A County final when seeing off Milltown last October, left Tuam’s players off the pace in the scoring stakes, and understandably so.

They were at a disadvantage to Barna in this regard. Barna had picked up the 2020 West Board Junior A title the Friday evening beforehand at Pearse Stadium, a final in which they totted up a noteworthy tally of 0-18 beating St Michael’s.

Barna added John Gately and Ryan Folan to the starting 15 which had lined out against Michael’s, two men who have worn the club’s colours at senior level in recent years. As hoped for from a Barna perspective, they both made their respective presence felt on proceedings, particularly in the first half an hour.

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

Greaney’s haul of four goals help Colga clinch league title

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Craughwell's Mark Cunningham is unable to prevent Colga substiute Oisin Greaney from finding the net in Sunday's Second Division tie in Coleman Park. EIREFOTO

Craughwell United 0

Colga 6

By Mike Rafferty

COLGA are unbeaten in two seasons of league football and with their achievements of last season scrubbed from the record books with the campaign abandoned due to covid issues, they got a compensation of sorts on Sunday last when they were belatedly crowned Second Division champions.

On an excellent surface in Craughwell, Colga were in command from the moment they converted a softly awarded penalty after 19 minutes and with Neil Greaney going on to score four goals, they moved five points clear at the top of the table with just one game remaining.

In reality, Colga are way too strong for this division and averaging six goals per game, they are powering their way to wins in a convincing fashion.

However, it is not just about the wins, but their style of play that created such an impression. It is all about possession and movement and their passing game would grace the Premier League in comfort and being a physically strong side, they have abilities worthy of a higher stage.

Now to the credit of a much younger Craughwell, they tried to match the visitors on Sunday and despite the final outcome, they worked hard and deserved some finishing reward. Indeed, they should have taken the lead when central defender Daniel Grealish headed a Mark Cunningham corner wide at the far post.

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

United are on the rise after season’s best sinks visitors

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Galway United's Wilson Waweru moments after scoring Galway United’s goal in their First Division victory over Cabinteely at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 1

Cabinteely 0

Keith Kelly at Eamonn Deacy Park

IT is hard to know if it was the mid-season break or the return of fans to the stands, but something has finally clicked for Galway United as they strung back-to-back wins together for the first time this season with a thoroughly deserved victory over Cabinteely last Friday night.

Billed as something of a grudge match, the expectation was there might be a bit of needle to the game but that never threatened to materialise, simply because the visiting players couldn’t get near their hosts.

United only had the one goal to show for their efforts, but that is all it took to win the game as the home side bounced back from a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Shelbourne before the two-week break to record successive wins and move back into the play-off spots in an incredibly congested table.

The FAI might as well hand Shels the league trophy now as the only unbeaten side in either division are eight points clear and looking untouchable, but just six points separate Treaty United in second from Athlone Town in seventh in the table.

United are sitting in the middle of that in fourth after finally hitting their stride after an uninspiring start to the campaign. Last Friday night’s first-half was the finest 45 minutes of ball United have played this season – it was what was expected from the first weekend, and now that they have found their standard, they can’t let it slip.

It was a delight to see that young local lad, Alex Murphy (16) retained his place in the starting XI after his impressive debut the previous week. The Corrandulla teenager, who joined the club’s U-17 Academy side from Corrib Celtic in 2019, impressed in his debut the previous week against Athlone Town, and he shone again on Friday night, looking more like a veteran than a rookie.

There were two changes to the side that defeated Athlone Town, with Mikey Place and David Hurley both coming into the side, with Chris Horgan and Shane Duggan dropping to the bench, but the biggest thing on the night was the use of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

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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