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Connacht primed for huge performance against Glasgow in PRO12 semi-final

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Team captain John Muldoon and second row Ultan Dillane who will be hoping to help Connacht to an historic place in the Guinness PRO 12 final when they renew rivalry with Robert Harley and Leone Nakarawa of Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on Saturday.

AHEAD of their historic Guinness Pro 12 semi-final against Glasgow Warriors at a sold-out Sportsground on Saturday (6.30pm), Connacht will do what they always do prior to every game.

Just before the referee blows the whistle to signal to players it’s time to leave the dressing room and take to the field, Connacht, according to head coach Pat Lam, will stand, joined together, arm-in-arm in a huddle.

Self-assured that they can – and will – win, the players “will look at each other,” says the Samoan boss.

“And their belief is based not on ‘roar, roar’ belief, it’s based on ‘I know you well, I know what my job is, I know what we’ve got to do to win and I trust you’. That’s where the confidence and belief really comes strong.”

Aside from the momentous 14-7 victory over the Scots last Saturday week at College Road, Pat Lam’s Connacht had failed to beat Glasgow in the league. Can lightning strike twice in a fortnight?

Lam and his Connacht outfit that oozes confidence, certainly think so. This optimism is grounded in remaining true to his ‘process’, a concept Lam repeats in every media interview he has given since arriving in Galway.

So even though Lam admits this is “the biggest game in our history”, preparations didn’t alter. Connacht stuck to the tried and trusted ‘process’.

“The only way we get a chance to win is to go back and treat the week as a normal week. That’s how it’s always worked for us. We haven’t done anything special, gone on a camp or anything last week. It’s just another day; another game. We’ve got a great chance to win,” he says.

Preparations may not have changed but training has certainly intensified. Standards have been ratcheted up again – they’ve had to.

Lam knows there is ample scope for improvement in Glasgow, who were down to 14-men for a large chunk of the last match, and could have earned a draw.

“They are a quality side. They will be better. They’ll come here backing themselves and that’s why we challenged ourselves straight after the game. It’s on us as a coaching group and management team to make sure that we are spot-on with all our planning, and the environment we create. And then the players can go out there and not only enjoy the day, but really train well and prepare well. I’ve already seen that standard raised.”

Playing the same team in a row is never easy. But in order to reap a repeat result, Connacht has a few tricks up their sleeve, and will mix it up.

“We have to fire shots,” insists Lam. “There’s no point playing these games safely. You’ve got to put them under pressure. The object of the game is to score more points. To do that you’ve got to have something up your sleeve and we’ll have that alright.

“We don’t want to be known as that team that runs everything, or that kicks everything. You’ve got to have a game plan that has structures to attack from anywhere and defend from anywhere. Then it’s down to the players to have the execution.”

This is a momentous match, and competition to make the starting XV, which will be announced noon Friday, will be more intense than ever.

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

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s early season cheer thanks to FBD Final success

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Galway’s Matthew Tierney and Tony Gill leading this attack against Roscommon’s Aengus Lyons during Friday's FBD League Final in the Connacht Air Dome. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway 1-18

Roscomon 1-16

John McIntyre in Bekan

ONLY the second Friday in January and Galway footballers already have some silverware on the sideboard. How’s that for hitting the ground running in 2022.

Mind you, there were enough flaws in Galway’s erratic display in the Connacht FBD League Final to ensure everybody in the Tribesmen’s camp will be keeping a sense of perspective after the county’s tenth triumph in the competition.

Between a lethargic start and nervous finish, Galway made life difficult for themselves on their second visit to the new Connacht Air Dome in the space of a week. In the long run, it’s probably better anyway that they are not burning it up so early in the season.

Though Roscommon were short nearly two thirds of their regular team – largely due to the club commitments of the Pearses and St Faithleach’s contingents – they were significantly the sharper outfit in the first half and were unlucky to lead by only 0-10 to 1-6 at the interval.

That 23rd minute goal was badly needed by Galway and, typical of modern-day football when players are liable to pop up anywhere, it wasn’t the greatest surprise to see Patrick’s Kelly’s lofted pass across the square finished to the net by full back Seán Fitzgerald.

Playing only his second game at this level, the young Barna defender displayed a positive temperament in venturing so far up field as he was having some early difficulties on Donie Smith in front of the Galway posts.

It was symbolic of the winners’ initial defensive troubles. Conor Cox was an even bigger handful in the Roscommon inside line as he rattled over three points inside the opening four minutes after the accurate Rob Finnerty had got Galway off their mark in their first attack of the final.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Clarinbridge underline status as local hurling’s rising force

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Clarinbridge's Gavin Lee is chased by Kevin Grennan of Castlegar during Saturday's County U20 A hurling final at Duggan Park. Photos: Joe Keane.

Clarinbridge 0-20

Castlegar 0-14

Ivan Smyth at Duggan Park

CLARINBRIDGE’S dominance at underage level continues as they claimed the U20 A hurling title when overcoming a slow starting Castlegar outfit at Duggan Park on Saturday.

Gavin Lee fired over 12 points as he produced a Man of the Match display. His brother David chipped in with four scores, all from play, as Clarinbridge withstood their opponent’s best attempts at a comeback.

In what is the first year that the reduced age grade came into effect, it felt fitting that Clarinbridge were the side to claim the county title as they look set to become the next big force in Galway hurling.

The South Galway club claimed the Minor A crown last November when beating Oranmore-Maree on penalties. This gave them their fifth title at this age grade in seven years. This is their second title in four years at the U21/U20 grade. Add in the fact that, last October ,they became only the third Galway club to win the Féile Division One Hurling title and it is clear to see that the ‘Bridge are in a healthy position talent wise.

Clarinbridge led this game by 0-11 to no score after 26 minutes and although Castlegar managed to fire over seven points without reply either side of half time, they never managed to get within one score of their opponents.

When Castlegar look back on this final, their wastefulness in the opening half will be a source of frustration. They missed their first nine shots on goal with six wides and three dropping short. Over the course of the game, they created more scoring opportunities (29 to 28), but their shooting woes in the opening half meant they were always chasing the game.

Both sides looked nervous in the early exchanges, struggling to find the target. Despite a Gavin Lee free in the first minute, Clarinbridge found it tough to make their early dominance count as they struck four wides in the opening 10 minutes.

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.

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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

Galway cut a sorry sight in Parnell Park horror show

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Galway goalkeeper Eanna Murphy who saved his team from an even heavier defeat against Dublin's in Sunday's one-sided Walsh Cup encounter at Parnell Park.

Dublin 3-29

Galway 0-19

John McIntyre at Parnell Park

IT’S only the middle of January and this was just a tournament fixture, but Sunday’s Walsh Cup encounter at Parnell Park proved a sobering experience for new Galway hurling manager Henry Shefflin.

After watching his charges fall to a crushing 19-point defeat against Dublin, Shefflin got an early insight into the scale of the challenge facing him in trying to make Galway serious championship challengers in 2022.

Their somewhat callow selection proved only cannon-fodder for a rampaging Dublin outfit whose superiority at times was embarrassing. In terms of physical power, craft, teamwork and working to a game plan, Mattie Kenny’s team was operating at a different level.

It proved a field day for Dónal Burke in particular. He ran amok in the Dublin half-forward line, scoring 18 points in total, including eight glorious efforts from play. Galway had no answer to him.

Dublin only scored one goal in the opening half, but they created a half-dozen clear-cut chances. Goalkeeper Eanna Murphy came to Galway’s rescue twice, some desperate defending denied Dublin a couple more, while Colin Currie missed a sitter when hitting the side-netting from point-blank range.

Unprepared for the intensity Dublin brought to the battle, Galway were quickly at sixes and sevens. Their defence was repeatedly cut to ribbons; midfield was under pressure; while their attack could make little headway against ravenous and sharp opponents.

It all made for unedifying viewing for Galway fans in the crowd of over 2,000. They trailed 1-16 to 0-8 at the break and despite a host of changes in personnel – including the introduction of the Mannion brothers, Padraic and Cathal – and positional changes, the trend of the game never altered.

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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