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Connacht must use disappointment of defeats last season as motivation

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Connacht's Danie Poolman in action against the Dragons in the first game of the season. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht returns to league action at home this weekend against Cardiff Blues following a three-week break since round 2.

The hype and excitement surrounding the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales should pique enough interest in the game of rugby locally to attract a few new faces in the crowd to the Sportsground this Saturday (kick-off, 5pm).

Connacht centre Robbie Henshaw has dominated the headlines this week with speculation about ‘will he, won’t he’ start this Sunday against Italy for Ireland’s crucial pool game.

He is the only player in head coach Joe Schmidt’s squad who has yet to taste World Cup action but that seems certain to change this weekend as the Athlone star trained fully on Tuesday.

Henshaw’s hamstring strain has cleared up and his is fighting fit and expected to be named at centre alongside Jared Payne. But back home in Galway, Connacht has a mini-crisis at centre in his absence.

With new signing Aiprana Pewhairangi still on the long-term injury list, Pat Lam also has to deal with fresh injuries to centres Dave McSharry and Shane O’Leary.

McSharry had surgery on Tuesday on a finger he broke while playing for UCD against Young Munster in the AIL on Saturday. It puts him out for about two months.

O’Leary, who slotted in at centre coming on as a substitute against Glasgow, is also ruled out with concussion sustained playing for Galwegians.

With those four centres unavailable, Pat Lam’s likely midfield will again be Bundee Aki and Australian-born Academy player, Rory Parata. This pairing has gelled reasonably well in the first two league games of the season, and the management will be hoping for no more injuries in this department.

Conor Finn may provide cover and Danie Poolman, more suited to the wing, is also more than capable of filling in at centre.

There was better news in the backs’ division with full-back Darragh Leader and winger Niyi Adeolokun returning to full training. Both are available this week, as is Eoin McKeon, who has been sidelined with a knee injury picked up against Dragons the first day out.

But it’s swings and roundabouts in the back-row because, although McKeon is fit, Eoghan Masterson has been ruled out with a hamstring strain. The team will be announced at noon on Friday.

Connacht already has six points in the bag from two games, and sit fourth in the league table. They will be targeting October as a month in which they can continue to climb up the table.

Of the four league games they have this month, three of them are at home and eminently winnable.

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

Connacht Tribune

Cappataggle pull off mighty win despite early loss of Mannion

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Cappataggle's Paul Claffey tussling for possession with Stephen Barrett of Liam Mellows during Sunday's Senior A championship encounter at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Cappataggle 0-19

Liam Mellows 0-17

CAPPATAGGLE may have watching out for magpies or stocking up on rabbit’s feet all summer in advance of the 2021 Galway senior hurling championship, but when it came down to the big moments in this absorbing SHC first-round fixture, it was their character rather than any lucky charm that got them through it.

Reduced to 14 men following the dismissal of Jarlath Mannion after just two minutes, Cappataggle spent most of their time thereafter chasing a result. However, despite their numerical disadvantage, Tony Nevin’s men never gave up, even if at times, they clung to Liam Mellows like a tired boxer out on their feet.

Four times they came from behind in the second half to tie up the game, the last of which was injury-time when the outstanding Liam Collins belied his young years to show composure to fire over a free to level up the contest at 0-17 apiece.

Collins was again central to the action less than a minute later when he brilliantly snapped a Paul Claffey delivery under pressure and set up substitute James Egan for the lead score three minutes into time added on. It was only Cappy’s second time to lead in the contest, having nudged ahead by a point in the frantic opening minutes of this fixture.

Collins wasn’t finished yet, either. Deep into injury-time, Liam Mellows’ Adrian Morrissey was pulled for over-carrying and the teenager rattled over the free to add the full-stop to what was a remarkable feat by his side.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Athenry let winning hand slip as Reilly goal saves Pearses

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Former Galway minor Dean Reilly who scored a late equalising goal against Athenry in the Senior B hurling championship clash at Duggan Park on Saturday.

Athenry 1-16

Pádraig Pearses 1-16

Ivan Smyth at Duggan Park

A goal in the third minute of injury time from Dean Reilly salvaged Pádraig Pearses a draw in a game that Athenry should have killed off before the corner forward’s late heroics.

When Conor Burke struck an inspirational score in the 58th minute, Kieran Coffey’s side led by six points and seemed destined to pick up a valuable two points to take them to the summit of Group One.

Up until this point Pádraig Pearses were reliant on Emmet Ward frees as the sharpshooter converted 11 placed balls throughout the course of this game. Aside from the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Ballymacward side were hanging on and trying to keep tabs on a youthful Athenry outfit.

Pádraig Pearses showed admirable determination in the closing stages, however, as a well worked Tomas Flannery score and two Ward frees slashed Athenry’s lead to three points in injury time. Athenry saw two efforts drift wide of the posts during this period and they were punished to the extreme.

In the 63rd minute, a precise Fergal Flannery puckout found Jimmy Gelston in space on the Athenry 45 metre line. The substitute cut inside and drew the last defender before handpassing to Dean Reilly who coolly finished to the bottom corner of the net.

To concede a goal in injury time and squander a winning position will no doubt frustrate Athenry, but Coffey and his management team will ponder how Gelston was able to cut inside the defence and offload possession without meeting a forceful challenge. To further rub salt in the Athenry wounds, talented forward Cian Burke limped off before half time with his fitness now a concern ahead of their final two group games.

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

Ballinderreen blast out of the traps in first round win

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Ballinderreen's Hugh Moylan puts in a strong challenge on Portumna's Owen Treacy during Sunday's Senior B championship clash at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Ballinderreen 4-15

Portumna 1-19

A savvy first half performance, in which Ballinderreen blitzed Portumna for four goals, laid the foundation for Ray Hayes’ charges to secure a merited opening round victory in Group 3 of the county senior ‘B’ hurling championship at Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday.

To the fore was Niall Coen, who tallied a hat-trick against their shell-shocked opponents, while Roy Lane also proved a handful in the inside line, netting Ballinderreen’s fourth and finishing with a personal tally of 1-6.

In many respects, Ballinderreen did to Portumna in that opening period what the former All-Ireland senior club champions did to many a team in their best years. And they looked good doing it.

After just two minutes, Coen had the ball in the Portumna net, having seized on a delivery from Kieran Ryan. Ballinderreen hit their second just before the water break when a long ball in from Evan Morgan found Lane and he rifled his effort beyond Ivan Canning from an acute angle to give his side a 2-3 to 0-4 lead.

In this time, Portumna sought to gain a measure of momentum with points from Ronan O’Meara, Joe Canning, who sadly was forced off injured early in the second period, and Neil Connelly (2). However, each time Ballinderreen responded – Luke Prendergast striking over two points and Lane adding a free.

Quite simply, Ballinderreen were buzzing and upon the resumption of play Coen seized on another long delivery – this time from Padraig Lafferty – and hit Portumna for the third goal to make it 3-3 to 0-4.

Over the ensuing 10 minutes, both sides traded points. O’Meara (2), Jack Canning and Joe Canning (free) were on target for Jimmy Heverin’s outfit while Kevin Lane, Roy Lane and Morgan pointed for Ballinderreen.

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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