Date Published: 26-May-2011
THE profile of Connacht rugby is set to reach heights never previously imagined in the 125 year history of the game in the province when Eric Elwood’s side take part in the Heineken Cup for the very first time next season.
With three high profile home games guaranteed at the Sportsground, a television audience of millions for highlights packages which are screened across the globe, it is the kind of exposure the Connacht camp could only dream of since the game first turned professional here in 1996.
Leinster’s thrilling victory over Northampton in last Saturday’s final has guaranteed the western province the 24th and last place in next season’s competition, as Connacht have finally reached the ‘holy grail’ which has been their target for so long.
Team manager Tim Allnutt said this week that the increased TV exposure will help the province to recruit higher profile players in the longer-term, even if there is confidence in the camp about the strength of the squad going into the 2011-12 campaign.
Although hooker Sean Cronin, winger Fionn Carr, prop Jamie Hagan (all Leinster), and out-half Ian Keatley (Munster) have all left the fold, Connacht believe they have enough home-grown talent and experienced imports to push on and improve next season.
Youthful locals such as Tiernan O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin, Dave Nolan, Andrew Browne, and Eoin McKeon have come off the conveyor belt to make their senior breakthroughs and show the strength of the game in the Connacht Academy.
“Even before we qualified for the Heineken Cup, we put what we considered to be a strong squad in place for next season,” said Allnutt this week. “There have been 16 changes, we’ve had a huge turnover of players, but we feel we have a strong squad, combining the players from the Academy with the guys we are bringing in.
“We’ve had almost the same core team for the last three seasons and it is always tough when you have to make changes. I think we showed last season, especially with our performances at home, that we can compete with pretty much any team. Those guys were used to playing with each other, but the guys were are bringing in are equally as good.”
Members of the squad joined supporters at Massimo’s in Galway city centre to watch the Heineken Cup final on Saturday and Allnutt joked that some of them felt like leaving after 40 minutes. But Leinster’s rousing second half fight-back had the place in raptures, as it began to dawn that Connacht would be joining them in Europe’s top competition next season.
“A lot of planning has gone into next season already and it has given everybody a huge boost,” he said. “There was a real ‘buzz’ around the Sportsground when I came in on Monday. There is huge goodwill out there, judging by the messages we have got from all over the world.
“In the past, we have been in the shadow of the other three provinces, but people will get to hear a lot more about us now. My own family back in New Zealand watches Heineken Cup rugby regularly on TV.Now we’re going to be able to recruit the best possible players from the southern hemisphere because they will be more aware of Connacht. The profile of the Magners League has already been growing massively every year.”
“Of course, our main goal would have been to get to the Heineken Cup on our own merits, but the rules are there and we will take this chance. This is what we have been grafting for for so many years and, through the Amlin Cup and the interprovincials, the Connacht fans have already shown a great appetite for the big games.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.