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Connacht Rugby host Exeter in Challenge Cup

Dara Bradley

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Connacht Rugby face Exeter at the Sportsground on Sunday (3.15pm) in the first of two games in six days, which will define their season in Europe.

Pat Lam’s men face La Rochelle in France on Saturday week but this weekend’s match against the English Premiership outfit is pretty much a ‘winner takes all’ clash in Pool 2 to qualify for the quarter finals.

Still smarting from last Friday’s 16-13 defeat to Edinburgh, the wounded pride of Connacht Rugby should be enough to produce a backlash, regardless of the strength of the starting XV that is announced at noon today.

The Challenge Cup has lost its lustre, as automatic qualification to the Holy Grail of Champions Cup cannot be achieved even by winning it. But Connacht Rugby will still be anxious to get back to winning ways at the Sportsground, where they were unbeaten in eight games (seven wins and one draw) until Edinburgh brought that record to a shuddering halt last weekend. Another defeat on home soil could lead to a slippery slope.

The loss to Edinburgh was bitterly disappointing but not surprising given that Connacht Rugby didn’t approach the game with the passion and energy that has defined their displays, particularly at home, this season.

They were bullied in the scrum and at the breakdown – where they coughed up far too many penalties – and they lost a few vital line-outs on their own put-in.

Getting back to basics of scrummaging and lineout drills must have been a priority in training this week.

The Edinburgh game proved costly in terms of injuries. Centre, Bundee Aki, damaged his ankle in the closing stages of the match and has been ruled out until at least February. There was better news midweek with the return to action of Nathan White, who played for Connacht Eagles in their win over Leinster A at the Sportsground on Wednesday; while out-half Craig Ronaldson was back training this week after suffering a concussion.

Connacht lost the away leg to Exeter in October, 33-13, but the Englishmen’s form has dipped considerably since then, and they are there for the taking, having lost their last four games.

After the La Rochelle game on Saturday, January 24, Connacht have a much-needed break until February 15 when the league resumes for them with an away trip to Scarlets.

In the All-Ireland league, Galwegians record an 18-15 win away to UL/Bohemians to stay top of the Division 1b table, but city rivals Corinthians are experiencing life at the other end after a 39-10 defeat at home to Garryowen saw them slip to last place.
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CITY TRIBUNE

Tribe Talk gives local hurling supporters plenty to listen to

Stephen Glennon

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Founders of the Tribes Talk podcast, a show on Galway hurling, are Patrick Earley (left) and David Connors (right).

ONE of the podcasts that became a regular feature of every Galway hurling enthusiast’s season last year was Tribe Talk – The Galway Hurling Podcast, which was founded by local journalists Patrick Earley and David Connors.

Airing for the first time in July 2020, the podcast, also available on YouTube and, later in the year, on Spotify, proved a major success, often receiving well in excess of 2,000 hits per episode between their listenership and viewership figures.

Earley, a freelance contributor to The Connacht Tribune and other publications, says the podcast was something he and Tuam Herald reporter David Connors had discussed doing for some time.

Given their strong hurling backgrounds – Earley is a versatile exponent with the Beagh senior team while former St. Thomas’ underage player Connors was a selector with Athenry intermediates last year – their focus was always going to be on the small ball.

“We kicked it off with an interview with Damien Hayes and we previewed all the first round games in the senior and intermediate championships,” begins Earley. “The response was very good and it (success) was instant enough. Pretty much every episode was clearing the thousand mark on YouTube and has been ever since.”

Earley says that they really enjoyed working on the episodes, some of which ran up to two hours, and they received great help from their regular contributors and guests, most notably from the affable Kevin ‘Chunky’ Hayes, a former Galway player and All-Ireland club winner with Portumna.

“Chunky is kind of the third member of the team in many ways, because he was with us for an awful lot of episodes,” says Earley. “His knowledge of the club scene is fantastic, especially when you are doing the club coverage. You need to have someone that has a knowledge of it, an understanding of it and follows it.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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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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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CITY TRIBUNE

It’s win or bust for Connacht in crunch tie with Munster

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Connacht out half Jack Carty whose varied kicking game is admired by Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan.

IT might only be early March but the PRO14 season is coming to a conclusion. The early finish is now set in stone and Connacht have just three fixtures remaining. To make the final of the competition, they have to make up a nine point deficit on Conference B leaders Munster who they face in Thomond Park on Friday (7:35). Unlikely as that might be as a target, meeting the side they are chasing in the run-in at least keeps things interesting.

Even if Connacht were on top of the table, they would be outsiders coming into a fixture at a venue that has proved to be a mood killer for four decades now. Just one win in 36 years and oh what a win that was. Bundee Aki’s try after Robbie Henshaw’s brilliant break saw Connacht win there in their title winning season of 2016.

The memories of that night will linger long after all the players have retired. The sight of Aki pounding his chest after that score, the roars from the thousands of Connacht fans in the stadium at full time, the emotion in Eoghan Masterson’s voice during the post game interviews. It was an amazing night at a venue where Connacht had suffered some of their heaviest defeats in the years before that.

The stakes don’t seem as high this weekend and the drama might not end up being as visceral, but the size of the task is arguably as big if not bigger. Sure Munster have numerous players away on international duty, but they have rotated squads for this fixture plenty times in that past and will still field a strong side on Friday.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

McCormack and Rowe both forced off in preseason friendly with Sligo Rovers

Keith Kelly

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Padraig Cunningham talks with assistant referee, Allen Lynch, about his decision to disallow his 10th minute goal as the pair walk to the dressing rooms at half-time of Wednesday's 1-1- draw with Sligo Rovers.

Galway United continued their preseason campaign with a tough workout against Sligo Rovers in Eamonn Deacy Park on Wednesday afternoon, but things did not go entirely to plan, with a couple of players forced off through injury.

Conor McCormack picked up an arm injury just midway through the first-half while Mikie Rowe hobbled off five minutes into the second-half of a game that finished 1-1 at a bitterly cold afternoon just across from the banks of the Corrib.

Neither injury is thought to be of the serious variety – McCormack picked up a gash to his arm after Jordan Gibson’s accidentally stepped on the United midfielder after fouling him; while Rowe felt a slight strain to his calf and, after getting a bang on his ankle, he went down for attention before being substituted.

“It was just one of those ones,” United manager, John Caulfield, said about the McCormack incident after the game.

“The fella stood on his hand, so we took him off. It was stinging him for a bit, but he thinks he is okay, he felt he could go back on but we couldn’t make that change. For that first 30 minutes he was typical middle of the park busy, cutting out the danger, he did well,” said the United manager of a player who led the side out for the game, and is likely to be named as captain for the season in the next week or so.

“Mikie Rowe, he was doing well, but he felt the calf a bit and he got a kick on the ankle so you know, just a precaution, you take him off. He got a game against Finn Harps, and 50 minutes today, so we’re happy,” Caulfield said of Rowe.

Caulfield started the game with a 3-man defence of Maurice Nugent, Gary Boylan and Stephen Walsh, who were flanked by Conor O’Keeffe and David Hurley operating as two wing backs.

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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