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CITY TRIBUNE

Creative Connacht rock ‘red army’ with a rousing display

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Connacht's Tom Farrell tries to fend off Munster's Rory Scannell and Peter O'Mahony during Friday night's Guinness Pro14 encounter at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 20

Munster 16

THIS was clash of styles and a triumph of creativity and ingenuity over brute force and ignorance. Connacht offered more in almost every facet of the game making more yards with ball in hands, beating more defenders and scoring the extra try for good measure. Munster’s only positive was in their kicking game, but that one dimensional game plan was never going to be enough.

It is quite likely that Munster will still end the season well ahead of Connacht in the standings, they will continue to have more internationals (11 in the Irish squad as opposed to three from Connacht) and they remain a more likely challenger for the PRO14 title too, yet on the evidence of this Friday night tussle in perfect Galway weather, you’d have to wonder why.

The answers are hard to find, it’s not that Munster were completely outclassed here. The men in red edged the battle of the half backs and the back row, broke even in lineout play and certainly didn’t yield much in the tackle area. Connacht had their areas of advantage though, the front row out-powered their opponents and, by the end of the game, the backline play eclipsed anything Munster had to offer.

Yet when Joe Schmidt assembles his Ireland training camp next week, players like Chris Farrell, Darren Sweetnam, Andrew Conway, David Kilcoyne and John Ryan will be in the room. On the basis of this night alone each could be directly and justifiably replaced by the likes of Darragh Leader, Tiernan O’Halloran, Tom Farrell, Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham.

One win isn’t enough though, yet that won’t stop Connacht supporters enjoying this. In fact as the crowd watched Bealham send David Kilcoyne backwards at a rate of knots to win a penalty at scrum time midway through the second half, those with green scarfs must have had a wry smile at the thought of the man they call ‘killer’ down in the south, earning caps while the Connacht tight head isn’t even in the squad.

The wider point is this, Connacht need consistency, there is no hiding from the fact that this group of players failed to deliver in September and are suffering the consequences as a result. With the benefit of hindsight all involved are pointing to the fact that the bedding in period took longer than expected and that explains a lot of the struggles.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht to stage first leg of big Euro clash with Leinster at the Sportsground

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The Sportsground

CONNACHT have no plans to move the home leg of their European Champions Cup last 16 clash against Leinster in April away from the Sportsground, despite demand likely to far exceed the 6,129 capacity limit on the College Road venue.

The province has qualified for the knockout stages of the premier European club rugby competition for the first time in its history, and given the fact that Leinster will provide the opposition in the two-leg Last 16 clash, the temptation may be there to move the game to a venue with a bigger capacity, but Connacht attack coach Pete Wilkins said this week that there were no plans for such a move.

“It’s not something I have heard mentioned,” said Wilkins of the potential of moving the game to the likes of Thomond Park.

“Fundamentally for us, we love playing in the Sportsground and the atmosphere that is generated there. It is certainly not something that has come across my radar at this stage, all the talk about it has been of it being at the Sportsground but if I hear otherwise, I’ll let you know,” said Wilkins, who has stepped in as temporary head coach at Connacht, after Andy Friend was deemed a Covid-19 close contact, which ruled him out of last weekend’s trip to Paris.

Connacht’s place in the knockout stages was assured before their final pool game with Stade Francais on Sunday, but rather than being because of a slip-up by Castres, it was due to the fact that Cardiff were granted a 28-0 win over Toulouse after the game between those sides was called off due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the French camp.

As it turned out, Connacht still grabbed the bonus point they needed against Stade to secure their place in their own right – in fact, they took two bonus points – but it could and should have been even more, only for Connacht to throw away a second-half lead for the third consecutive European game to lose a game they were on track to win.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht blow another big lead but still create history

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Connacht’s Caolin Blade whose impressive display against Stade Francais in the Champions Cup on Sunday saw the scrum half score one of their four tries.

Stade Français 37

Connacht 31

BY JOHN FALLON

SELDOM has a team achieved so much in such underwhelming circumstances. Blowing a substantial lead and falling to a late defeat for the second week in a row in the Champions Cup has taken some of the gloss off Connacht reaching the knockout stages for the first time.

Another late collapse, coupled with drawing four-time champions Leinster in that knockout double-leg round in April, has deflated some of the euphoria around a notable milestone, but it will be great to have Connacht involved in the business end of the competition at a time, for context, none of the Welsh, Scottish or Italian teams have managed to make it that far.

But captain Jack Carty said they need to learn how to manage a lead if they are to improve as a squad. The previous week they blew an 18-point advantage and got caught at the death and this time, despite playing with an extra man for almost half the match, they failed to mind an 11-point lead in another nine-try thriller and will head into the knockout stages for the first time having won just one game.

Six bonus points along the way made all the difference and while defeat at Stade Jean Bouin ultimately didn’t impact on their final place or a knockout date with Leinster in April – five other teams have also advanced on the back of a single victory – a win in Paris would have been a huge boost but instead they fell to an eighth successive away Champions Cup game.

Carty said it was a big boost to advance but there is obvious room for improvement and the pool campaign could have been so much better.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council looks to develop ‘outdoor museum’ to focus on Galway’s waterways

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New focus...Galway’s waterways.

Consultants will be hired by Galway City Council to develop an “outdoor museum experience” to “tell the story of the waterways of Galway”.

Tender documents estimate the project will cost between €220,000 and €250,000.

It is part of the Fáilte Ireland funded Tourism Destination Towns initiative to help tourist towns and cities offer more attractions to visitors.

The consultants will be asked to devise an outdoor museum that “tells the story of” the city’s waterways.

“The variety of water in Galway City Centre – the rushing river, still and reflective canals, historic mills and locks, and tidal Galway Bay – create a diversity of sights, sounds, smells and textures which enrich Galway for visitors and locals alike,” the tender said.

This “new attraction”, it said, will be located along walking and cycling routes leading from the Spanish Arch area along the River towards Woodquay, along the Canal to NUIG and along the Claddagh to Salthill.

“The outdoor attraction should assist in managing visitor flow by drawing visitors from the crowded areas of Shop Street, Quay Street and the Spanish Arch and dispersing visitors to other attractions such as Galway’s Westend, NUIG, Salthill and Woodquay,” according to the plan.

The waterways will be used to “tell an interesting and compelling story on the development of Galway”.

“By adding a new experience along the route we have an opportunity to increase visitor satisfaction levels by bringing the past and present to life so that it resonates with visitors, and gets them thinking, talking and engaging,” the plan said.

It is envisaged that the contractor will tell the story of Galway, including its waterways, “their development, industrial heritage and how they help shape modern Galway”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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.

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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