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Corofin and Mountbellew/Moylough favourites to reach county decider

Dara Bradley

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Greg Higgins has returned to the fray for Corofin, while Derek Savage looks as fit as ever for Cortoon Shamrocks.

Now that the shadow-boxing of the earlier rounds is out of the way, it’s down to the serious business for the four best teams in the county who battle it out this Sunday for a place in the Galway senior Gaelic football championship final.

Reigning Galway, Connacht and All-Ireland champions, Corofin remain the team to beat as they look for a historic three-in-a-row of titles, a feat that was considered almost a certainty at the beginning of the season. It’s not so clear-cut any longer . . . Corofin’s form has dipped sufficiently in this campaign, and enough chinks in their armour have been exposed, to give the remaining three pretenders to the crown some hope going into semi-final Sunday.

In the first of a double-header at Tuam Stadium (2pm), Cortoon Shamrocks, which has a nice blend of experienced heads and youthful enthusiasm, will look to dethrone the champions at the penultimate stage. Corofin last came a cropper at the semi-final in 2012 so you could argue that now is the opportune time to meet them. But then again they hockeyed Milltown in the semi-final last year, and they have the quality to cut loose again.

A North Galway derby, Cortoon v Corofin should get the crowd to Tuam early before the mouth-watering clash between Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough (4.15pm) in the other semi-final.

This one should be intriguing, not least because the manager of the city men is Mountbellew’s Val Daly, whose two sons, Michael and John Daly, will be lining out for Mountbellew/Moylough. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Daly household this week!

Sunday

Corofin v Cortoon Shamrocks (Tuam Stadium, 2.30pm)

The Corofin statistics in the county championship since they were last defeated are savage. They are unbeaten in 14 games since the last occasion they suffered county championship defeat, which was against Tuam in the semi-final of 2012. They have won 13 of those games, and drawn once against the Stars before winning the replay earlier this month.

What a record. They are also unbeaten in the league this season (seven wins); and were unbeaten in last year’s league, too.

Cortoon are not without hope, though. Corofin are more vulnerable this year compared with the previous two – they are a long-time on the road, and have lost that invincible look.

They are scoring less, too, managing just 1-10 on average per match compared with 2-15 on average per game in the local championship in 2013, and nearly 3-13 on average per game in their march to county glory in 2014. Corofin are conceding more compared to those two years. They have conceded 4-34 in the campaign to date, compared with 3-36 in the five games in the 2013 championship and just 1-31over five games played in 2014.

Manager Stephen Rochford hasn’t had a full squad to pick from but is close to full strength now. Greg Higgins returned to the fray against Tuam, and while he aggravated a niggly injury, the midfielder is pushing for a starting berth, as is Ian Burke and Daithi Burke, who both came off the bench the last day. Conor Cunningham is back from US and in contention to start and long-term absentee Joe Canney (groin) is on the mend.

Connacht Tribune

Mulkerrins adopts a pragmatic stand as finals off

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Moycullen's Martin Mulkerrins on his way to winning the All-Ireland 60x30 senior softball title in July of 2019.

By Ivan Smyth

NATIONAL champion Martin Mulkerrins isn’t shocked that the World Handball Championships due to take place in Dublin later this year have been cancelled.

“To be honest I wasn’t surprised when I heard the news. It is understandable and in the current climate there is uncertainty over where the country will be in a few months.”

The World Championships take place every three years with Mulkerrins reaching the final of the 40×20 event in 2018, eventually losing out to Killian Carroll in the decider.

“I was excited for it this year with the last two World Championships not being in Ireland. I love travelling so with the 2018 Worlds taking place in Minnesota and Canada hosting it in 2015, I had the opportunity to travel and play.”

“I think every handballer was looking forward to playing in the new National Handball Centre in Croke Park, but I’m sure the powers that be are working on alternative arrangements when it’s safe to play.”

“It’s still promising to see that facility being built and shows that things are looking up for the sport despite not much action on the courts recently.”

The handball season is split into three main codes – 40×20, 60×30 and One-Wall (recently rebranded as wallball). In terms of coverage and crowds, the 40×20 Championships are the brand leader.

Last year the coronavirus pandemic caused the handball calendar to be turned upside down with the Moycullen man still waiting to play the 2020 All-Ireland 40×20 senior singles final against Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy.

That final was initially due to be played on March 21 of last year but handball alleys across the land were forced to shut down the week beforehand due to the coronavirus. When action resumed, GAA Handball opted to play the 60×30 Championships from the beginning instead of concluding the 40×20 Championships.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Basketball’s uncertain times as ban on indoor sports takes toll

Keith Kelly

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Maree BC's U-14 squad were presented with the cup and their medals just before Christmas by former Maree player and Irish international Michelle Fahy, for winning the 2019/20 Galway league. Back row, from left: Michelle Fahy with Grace McAnespie, Kate Burke, Ella Hanniffy, Laoise Quinn, Aisling Jordan, and Katie Colleran. Front: Laoise Gallagher, Tara Molloy, Naoise Ni Bhroin, and Jessica Ross.

By Keith Kelly

THE treatment of basketball as something of a forgotten sport, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, could see the game lose a generation of players as, by the time collective training is allowed, children may have been up to 18 months without involvement in the sport.

While all sport has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic, the failure to bestow ‘elite’ status to the basketball’s national league clubs – which provide the bulk of the country’s international players – along with the seemingly more-stringent application of restrictions to the local game compared to other sports, has led to fears locally that the sport may suffer a setback which will take years from which to recover.

While the main GAA, rugby, and soccer seasons were allowed resume during the summer after being designated as ‘elite sports’, the failure to include basketball in that category disappointed many associated with the game.

Then, when children were allowed to do some form of training with their various sports clubs under level 3 of lockdown, restrictions appeared to be stricter for basketball than other sports: for example, children were not allowed to pass the ball to each other as it was deemed to be sharing equipment, a constraint which did not seem to be applied to other sports.

When asked about children effectively not being able to train or play games in the sport since March, head coach of Moycullen’s Super League men’s squad, John Cunningham, said that from a basketball point of view, that has been a “disaster”.

“At least our Superleague guys got a pre-season of 6-8 weeks collective activity but underage are currently 10 months without anything other than watching online videos. It’s possible that will stretch to next September which is 18 months without group training.

“In the meantime, they’ve had their soccer, GAA and rugby sessions continuing. There will definitely be some who will never return to basketball (or maybe never start). For those that basketball was ‘their sport’, they’ve lost a social outlet which may have been their only one,” Cunningham said.

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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Connacht Tribune

Passionate Divilly is ready to help Galway reach next level

Stephen Glennon

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Galway senior football coach John Divilly in action against Kildare's Willie McCreery during the 1998 All-Ireland football final at Croke Park.

ALTHOUGH there has been some movement in the Galway senior football set-up over the last month – most notably the return of talented Moycullen offensive midfielder Peter Cooke from the United States – selector John Divilly says that the squad is far from finalised.

In recent weeks, there has been plenty of comings and goings in the Galway squad. The long-serving Gareth Bradshaw, after 14 years involved, announced his retirement while Corofin’s Gary Sice, who briefly came out of retirement post lockdown, also hung up his inter-county boots once more.

In addition, Adrian Varley, Fiontáin Ó Curraoin, John Maher and Corofin duo Jason Leonard and former All-Star Ian Burke have not committed to Galway for 2021 for various reasons. “It just wasn’t for them this year and that’s it,” says Divilly, who lined out at centre-half back in Galway’s memorable All-Ireland triumph in 1998. “You have to respect their decision.

“It is unfortunate that these guys have chosen not to come in this year, but best of luck to them in their future careers. You never know, they might come back into the Galway fold again some time down the line, but for now it creates opportunities for new players.”

Divilly says that once inter-county squads are permitted to return to the training grounds, they will run the rule over a few players who have either shown potential with their clubs or with the Galway U20 side that defeated Dublin to win the All-Ireland title last December.

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.

Continue Reading

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