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Connacht looking to build both on and off the pitch



Jack Carty says Connacht are expecting a step-up in physicality when they host Bordeaux-Begles in the Sportsground on Saturday.

Connacht will look to sustain their recent fine form – including a first win over Ulster in 58 years last weekend – when they host French Top 14 outfit Bordeaux-Begles in their European Challenge Cup opener at the Sportsground this Saturday (3pm).

No doubt, it has been a whirlwind week for Connacht rugby. First, Andy Friend’s charges broke a six-decade hex when ousting Ulster 22-15 in their provincial rivals’ backyard last Friday; before following this up with the announcement of a new €30 million redevelopment for the Sportsground on Monday.

This will consist of a new stand – which will include dressing rooms and corporate hospitality – and a new all-weather pitch. Planning permission for the redevelopment, taking the capacity of the Sportsground up to 12,000, is expected to be filed in the coming weeks.

Connacht out-half Jack Carty admits, on and off the field, there is a real buzz. “Yeah, it’s great. We were briefed on it [redevelopment] last week and everything has been really positive about it,” notes the Roscommon native. “Hopefully, I will still be around playing when it is there.

“We have kind of grown out of the place here and you can see that by the crowd numbers that were at the Leinster and Scarlets games. It was just a case that we needed something and we needed to get it out to the fans and get it out to people. We did that and everyone is really positive about it now.”

Indeed, between last weekend’s historic triumph and Monday’s announcement, Carty highlights it is “a great boost for everyone around the place”. It would be remiss not to allude to the victory over Ulster.

He says the most pleasing aspect of the win was the manner in which they went about their business on the night and, while he concedes it wasn’t the best attacking rugby they have played, Carty notes they were delighted to secure their victory on a strong defensive set-up.

“We went up to Ulster a couple of times [before] and played really good rugby and hadn’t even got a bonus point,” he remarks.

“So, to win in the manner we did – and the gritty performance that we gave – was probably something that was even better than going out and thrown the ball around and winning. So, we are really happy with it.”

Carty feels though that the team has been on “an upward trajectory” since the season began and, although disappointed with certain elements in their defeat to Leinster a fortnight ago aside, the squad still understood that they hadn’t played that badly against the top team in Europe.

Consequently, confidence remained relatively high in the camp ahead of the Ulster game.

“We didn’t speak about how we went up there [and lost to Ulster] in previous years. Fellows themselves would have had a knowledge that we went up there the last couple of years and that we had been there or thereabouts.

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

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Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year



From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option



From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway



Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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