By Rob Murphy
RUGBY is back this weekend as Connacht make their debut in a brand new expanded competition. The United Rugby Championship has replaced the old PRO14 with the top four South African sides joining the teams from Ireland Scotland, Wales and Italy in a new look 16 team tournament.
Over the next seven months, Andy Friend’s men will play 18 games as they look to secure one of the eight play off places up for grabs.
On Friday Connacht will begin their campaign in Wales where they’ll take on Cardiff at the Arms Park (7:35) for an important opening day fixture. With a number of difficult inter-provincials tussles on the horizon, a good start is badly needed.
On Wednesday, Connacht Rugby announced that they were moving their October 23 fixture with Ulster to the Aviva Stadium to mark the lifting of restrictions throughout the country for crowds at live events. The stand alone fixture will be a huge opportunity for the organisation to showcase the provincial team to a wide audience and they are hoping that Connacht fans will travel east in big numbers to watch their side play in the national stadium.
It will be the second time in a little over a year that Connacht have played at the venue having faced the same opponents there last August at a time when crowds weren’t permitted, You have to go back to 1986 for the previous appearance at the Dublin 4 venue. Forgoing home advantage for a league fixture looks like a risk worth taking as the novel event should generate a lot of interest among rugby fans who have waited over 18 months to watch their side play live.
While there is scope for a full house in Wales this Friday, Connacht’s opening home fixture against the Bulls the following Friday and their clash with the Dragons in Galway and Munster in Limerick later in the month will all fall under the current fifty percent capacity restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, so this is why that the Ulster fixture in Dublin will be a watershed moment for the campaign.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.