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Connacht Rugby stun Leinster in Guinness PRO12

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Whenever the complete history of Connacht Rugby is written, the 10-9 victory over Leinster on Friday night will rate highly in its annals.

Yes, Connacht have had wins over the reigning Pro12 holders in the past – and have enjoyed many wonderful occasions in both the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups over the years – but this was different because this was not simply a ‘one-off’. For 24 hours at least, Connacht were table toppers.

What was this? It was consistency at its best. Three wins on the trot, this latest 10-9 victory, compliments of a superb Kieran Marmion try, over a strong Leinster Rugby outfit was a statement of intent from a Connacht outfit that has refused to bend the knee in recent outings.

Speaking to the media afterwards, man of the match Marmion said wins like those, generally, was a question of belief.

“Yeah, we generally believe that if we can go out there and perform, we can win. We have done it before against Leinster and we certainly believed before the game we could win.

“It was great to get another win. To back up what we did the last two weeks was huge. It was just a great effort from the lads. We probably let ourselves down with the discipline early on but we never gave up and we showed our character throughout the game, especially towards the end.”

Having trailed 9-3 at the interval – Jack Carty responding to three Ian Madigan penalties – Marmion produced a moment of magic when slipping the Leinster cover to race over the whitewash for a 55th minute try.

“I don’t remember too much about it but it was great to get over the line. It was a complete team effort,” continued the scrum-half.

“Obviously, the conditions played into their hands in the first half but it was great defence from us just before half-time to keep them out and that really gave us a boost going into the second half. So, we just wanted to kick on from there.”

For Head Coach Pat Lam, he thought Connacht’s victory was representative of the culture and the character within his squad. “That is three weeks in a row where we really have had to dig deep and work hard,” he said afterwards.

“A lot of things didn’t quite go our way – we have talked about it; it wasn’t quite perfect – but at the end of the day if your culture is good and you are led by a lot of the senior players, everyone will fight for each other.

“As it happens, that is three weeks in a row we have had to dig deep. When you see that sort of emotion from the fans, all they want to see is the boys fighting. I am very proud of them,” beamed the New Zealander.

Connacht will look for their second Pro12 victory on the road in Scotland – and, more importantly, to maintain their unbeaten run – when they face Glasgow Warriors this Friday (7.35pm), who are currently lying second in the league table having also won their opening three games.

CITY TRIBUNE

The serious stuff starts for Galway in clash with Mayo

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Galway's Shane Walsh and Lee Keegan of Mayo who won't be featuring at MacHale Park on Saturday evening. Walsh is taking a short break, while Keegan has retired after a great career.

By Darren Kelly

EVEN though it’s their third game of the year, the 2023 season really kicks off for Galway’s senior footballers on Saturday at MacHale Park, Castlebar (7:30pm) when they begin their National League campaign under lights against rivals Mayo.

It comes just two weeks after the Green and Red scored a semi-final victory over the Tribesmen (2-18 to 3-12) on their way to a first FBD League title since 2012.  But the stakes will be much higher for this one.

First, Galway are back in the top flight after earning promotion along with Roscommon last year, and will be determined to stay among the league’s elite.

But with a new-look championship coming up in April, including a round-robin All-Ireland series, league positions will be vital for seeding for any team not claiming their provincial title (Galway will meet Mayo in the Connacht semi-final, if the latter overcome Roscommon).

“It has been the plum draw for us,” stated Galway manager Padraic Joyce during the week. “The one we focused on since we went back training in November. It’s going to be a big occasion, big crowd expected and it’s a battle we’re looking forward to.”

It’s six months since Galway went down to Kerry in the All-Ireland Final but Joyce will hope to have most of his contingent available. Liam Silke is abroad while Kieran Molloy (cruciate) is back in rehab but any return for him won’t happen before the championship. Shane Walsh definitely won’t be involved due to a long club season with Dublin’s Kilmacud Crokes.

Also, the Galway management have up to 15 players currently involved in the Sigerson Cup. For example, Galway captain Seán Kelly is back in the panel after Maigh Cuilinn’s club campaign brought them to an All-Ireland semi-final. But that doesn’t mean he’ll line out on Saturday night.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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CITY TRIBUNE

Flooring Porter’s Cheltenham Festival hat-trick bid depends on results of X-ray

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Killimordaly's Kerril Creaven, a member of the winning syndicate, leads Flooring Porter and jockey Danny Mullins back into the winners’ enclosure after retaining his Stayers' Hurdle crown at last year's Cheltenham Festival.

DUAL Stayers’ Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, Flooring Porter faces a race against time to defend his crown in March.

The popular eight-year-old has suffered a setback which could scuttle his chances of emulating the feat of Inglis Drever in being crowned the champion staying hurdler for a third time.

Flooring Porter’s trainer Gavin Cromwell sent the horse’s fans into a tailspin last week when revealing another successful trip to the Cotswolds was in jeopardy.

Cromwell didn’t reveal the nature of the problem, but it is believed to surround a minor back injury which has brought a halt to the horse’s regular preparatory work on the gallops.

His participation at the big National Hunt Festival could hinge on the result of an X-ray late next week as the Seán Murphy bred gelding is currently restricted to a daily routine on the horse walker and swimming.

Flooring Porter had produced a somewhat underwhelming effort in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December – a race he had won in 2021 on his way to a first Stayers’ Hurdle crown – when only finishing fourth behind new big-race favourite Home By The Lee.

The outcome of that race resulted in a five-day ban for jockey Danny Mullins after he was adjudged by the stewards not to have obtained the best possible placing – Flooring Porter being caught on the line for third place by Meet and Greet after Mullins eased his mount in the final 25 yards.

It is now believed that the horse’s back issue, which only came to light on veterinary examination a couple of weeks ago, may have contributed to Flooring Porter not setting the relentless gallop at Leopardstown his fans have become accustomed to.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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

Uphill battle faces Connacht in wake of shocking display

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Prop Finlay Bealham whose three try haul wasn't enough to save Connacht from a dismal loss to Newcastle Falcons in the European Challenge Cup at Kingston Park on Saturday.

Newcastle Falcons 35

Connacht 21

By JOHN FALLON AT KINGSTON PARK

IRISH coach Andy Farrell said that Mack Hansen’s ability to cover full-back as well as the wings will make him the sort of player who will be invaluable for the World Cup in France later this year.

And Farrell, speaking at the launch of the Six Nations in London on Monday, also said he was not concerned about the lack of game-time Bundee Aki has had for Connacht this season.

Aki was again absent when Connacht blew a glorious chance of staying in Ireland all the way to the conclusion of this season’s Challenge Cup with an error-ridden performance being punished by a Newcastle side already out of contention prior to Saturday’s tie at Kingston Park, having lost all three games in the competition.

Hansen again played at full-back for Connacht and while he too wasn’t immune to the plethora of mistakes which destroyed their hopes, the Irish coach sees him as a vital cog.

“We’ve put him there a few times ourselves, we know there’s talent there in that type of position and that’s exactly what the difference is between an international side and a club side. With a club side, you’ve got 50 players training all the time.

“In a club side, it tends to be ‘he’s the best in that position, he’s the second best in that position and he’s the third best’ whereas with the international side, when you fast forward, you can only pick 33 in the World Cup, it becomes pretty good that your number two in that position can play two or three positions and your number three in that position can play three or four positions. The likes of Mack being able to do that is pretty important for us.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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