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Corofin have the pace and teamwork to topple champions St. Vincent’s

Francis Farragher

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Corofin defender Kieran McGrath whose team face the ultimate test against reigning champions St. Vincent's in Saturday's All-Ireland Club football semii-final in Tullamore.

THERE’S a longing out Corofin way and it’s one that hasn’t gone away for the past 17 years. Football blood is pumped straight from the heart in places like Cummer, Ballinderry and Belclare and they all badly want to add another club title to their sole success of 1998.

That victory in the ’98 final against Dublin side Erin’s Isle is, rather surprisingly, Corofin’s only appearance in a club decider – their problem game in the series over recent years has been in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Four times over the past 23 years, Corofin have lost out at the penultimate stage of the competition: to Dr. Crokes in 1992; Laune Rangers in 1996, Kilmacud Crokes in 2009 and St. Gall’s in 2010.

That’s a trend that Corofin will want to put a stop to on Saturday in Tullamore’s O’Connor Park (2.0) but they do face one huge task in attempting to dethrone reigning All-Ireland champions, St. Vincent’s of Dublin, a team that last year blew the final challenge of Castlebar Mitchels out of the water on a 4-12 to 2-11 scoreline.

With Corofin having stormed through Galway and Connacht in 2014, and with St. Vincent’s doing likewise in Leinster, then it surely is the case of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object – it really is difficult to figure out, who or what, will give way first.

Corofin will be hoping that they have added a level of maturity and calmness to their game after being desperately disappointed to lose out to Castlebar Mitchels in last season’s Connacht club championship. Since then though, they seem to be a far leaner and meaner footballing machine.

There are many students of the game who believe that both St. Vincent’s and Corofin could hack it with most inter-county teams across the country, such is the depth of talent coming through from their under-age ranks – for the Galway and Connacht champions, getting the balance right in the starting fifteen could be a key issue.

Corofin manager, Stephen Rochford, reports a clean bill of health for Saturday’s tie and admits that some tough calls will have to be made when he sits down with his selectors to pick the team.

“We have an extended panel of 38 players in training and the effort from everyone has been absolutely fantastic. Team selection will not be an easy task with everyone available but I suppose that’s a good problem to have.

“Training has gone very well for us since we took a short break around the Christmas. The lads have trained well, we’ve played a couple of challenges, but I’m sure that the same message is coming out of Vincent’s. It really is down to who delivers on the day,” said Rochford.

So, what’s the plan for St. Vincent’s and for containing one Diarmuid Connolly, who ran riot in last year’s final against Castlebar, ending up with a 2-5 tally as well as being involved in many other scores.

“I suppose that Diarmuid Connolly is arguably the best footballer in the country at present but if we decide to concentrate too much on one player, then Vincent’s have the variety of options in attack to make you pay.

“It will be very much a man-to-man operation in terms of marking players on Saturday, and while of course we have taken a good look at Vincent’s, we really do want to concentrate on our own game and our own strengths,” insisted Rochford.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway’s senior panel strongly support the split-season formula

John McIntyre

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Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan who strongly favours a split-season between inter-county and club.

OVER 90% of the Galway senior camogie panel have voted in favour of a split-season between inter-county and club.

And the Tribeswomen will be standing firm with the other 11 senior counties in boycotting the upcoming National League if the Camogie Association doesn’t perform a U-turn on its controversial fixtures calendar.

The plan to run off the club championships between the National League and All-Ireland inter-county campaigns has sparked an outcry among the sport’s elite.

In response to widespread protests, the Camogie Association is currently carrying out a survey among its clubs and members before deciding on a final fixtures template.

Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan has already nailed her colours to the mast in supporting the split-season formula.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht turn to South Africa for team’s new forwards coach

John McIntyre

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South African Dewald Senekai who will be Connacht's new Forwards Coach next season.

A 40 year-old South African is on his way to the Sportsground as Forwards Coach for the start of next season.

With Nigel Carolan and Jimmy Duffy departing the Connacht coaching staff at the end of the current campaign, the province has moved quickly to fill the void.

Already Connacht had moved Peter Wilkins (new Defence Coach), Colm Tucker and Mossy Lawler up through their own coaching ranks, but the need for an outside appointment remained paramount.

Dewald Senekal arrives with extensive coaching experience, most recently serving as Forwards Coach for Stade Francais in the Top 14 after taking over from Paul O’Connell in the role.

From 2017 to 2019 ,he was Joint Head Coach of Grenoble, leading them to promotion from Pro D2 to the Top 14 in his first season.

Senekai began his coaching career in 2015 as Forwards Coach of Bayonne where he finished a long playing career. He also lined out for French sides Toulon and Agen, and South African outfits, the Cheetahs and Lions.

Head Coach Andy Friend is delighted that the South African has signed up with Connacht. “Following an extensive recruitment process, we are thrilled that Dewald is joining the Connacht coaching team.

“He is an extremely impressive individual who will add a lot to the set-up, as well as providing a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas. I know the players will really enjoy working with him and the coaches likewise.

“Our coaching team is now complete with Dewald joining Pete, Mossy, Cullie and myself for the next two years, and we feel very optimistic about what we can achieve both as a group and in the club.”

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

Resurgent Connacht relishing battle with vulnerable Leinster

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Connacht winger Alex Wootton who has recovered from injury and is available for Saturday's Rainbow Cup clash against Leinster at the Sportsground.

By Rob Murphy

TAKE a breath of the fresh air that surrounds the Connacht rugby team right now and you’ll get the unmistakable impression that they are relishing the Rainbow Cup competition.

Leinster arrive in Galway on Saturday evening for round two of the six game end of season tournament, licking their wounds after another Champions Cup semi final heartbreaker, while the westerners are looking for a second straight inter-provincial win.

Now let’s not oversell this. The Rainbow Cup has not gone to plan by any means, with the South African sides pulling out of the hastily arranged tournament at the last minute turning it into a six game rehash of the usual fixture, but for Andy Friend and his management team it has been a case of perfect timing for a group that really were looking for a reset button before breaking up for the summer after a long 12 months.

Two weeks on from the victory over Ulster in Ravenhill, the shouts and chirping from the pitch on College Road in Galway are no doubt that bit louder as they bellow across Bohermore and Lough Atalia. A win can do a lot for the mood of a group of athletes. The defeat to Leicester in the Challenge Cup is a distant memory and the next few weeks are about building confidence and developing new patterns. Friend is enjoying the process.

“We are pushing hard in the last few weeks and that’s a compliment to our coaching staff as well as the players. We are in the middle of three inter-pros and that’s how we are looking at it. Yes it’s the Rainbow Cup as well but first and foremost they are games with a lot to play for anyways.” noted Friend.

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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