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Croke Park agony

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Milford 0-6

Ardrahan 0-5

Darren Kelly at Croke Park

A heartbreaking finish!  Ardrahan’s All-Ireland club senior camogie title dreams were dashed last Sunday as defending champions Milford from Cork held on for a one point victory.

When Rebecca Hennelly lined up the ’45 for the final puck three minutes into injury time, all in attendance were preparing for another day out as the Galway side stayed in touch throughout the hour.

A dead ball specialist who has driven club and county on countless occasions, this time Croke Park was cruel on the 19-year-old as the ball drifted left to deny parity and there wasn’t time for anymore as referee Alan Lagrue blew the final whistle.

It was devastating for Hennelly and her team-mates who had worked so hard for the hour after being put under serious pressure by James McGrath’s charges who were determined to repeat their dominant display from last year’s decider against Killimor from the very first whistle.

Milford have been built on a solid defence, smooth link up play and forwards capable of finding the target and they showed their threat in the opening minutes when Maire Flannagan managed to create an opportunity only for the ball to trickle across the goal and wide.

It was the start of a busy afternoon for the Ardrahan defence who must have felt they were playing forwards and backs; such was the amount of ball that was pouring down. Milford were looking for early majors but couldn’t find them as Sile Forde denied another low effort but the Rebell women did push 0-4 to 0-0 ahead by the 16th minute with Emer Watson able find the target each time.

Ardrahan had already picked up two yellow cards for Sarah Keehan and Siobhan Gardiner but such was their defiance, they continued to throw themselves into the rucks and tackles. It was a case of Milford’s experience counting as the Cork side looked just that bit more composed as they moved diagonal balls to unlock their opponents, constantly trying to pick out Marie O’Neill or Maria Watson.

In contrast, despite trying to take on their opponents at the beginning, Ardrahan were gradually being forced back into a defensive role while their eagerness to clear ball was just seeing direct deliveries being sent back immediately.

It was 20 minutes before Ardrahan started making inroads as their forwards just couldn’t catch a break. While guilty of easily conceding possession on occasions, the sliothar never fell kind for Mike Carr’s team and the equally hardworking Milford rearguard weren’t allowing repossession either.

Hennelly opened up Ardrahan’s account from a placed ball and she added another on 21 minutes while an Andrea Mullins run nearly unlocked their opponents. While this was a creditable half-time position for the Connacht side (0-4 to 0-2), two more chances went abegging that could have demoralised Milford.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

CITY TRIBUNE

St Thomas’ rewrite modern-day record books with thrilling final replay triumph

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St Thomas’ Mark Caufield and Kieran Hanrahan of Loughrea in a race for possession during Sunday's Galway Senior Hurling Final replay at Pearse Stadium. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

St Thomas’ 1-15

Loughrea 0-17

John McIntyre at Pearse Stadium

THERE is no doubt about it anymore. St Thomas’ are the most successful team to have graced the hurling fields of Galway in over half a century.

True, they still have ground to make up on Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna, in particular, on the All-Ireland stage, but the men from Peterswell and Kilchreest continue to rewrite modern-day records on the domestic scene.

Not since Turloughmore in 1965 has a team won five county senior hurling titles on the trot, and the fact that St Thomas’ were pushed to the limit to emulate that achievement only adds lustre to a remarkable sequence of big-day triumphs.

Sunday’s replay at Pearse Stadium had a lot to live up to from the drawn final the previous week, but the second helpings served up by St Thomas’ and Loughrea were every bit as appetising as first-time around. This was another classic when once again you couldn’t be sure about the outcome until the very end.

St Thomas’ have never been taken to the brink like this before in a Galway final. For them to be still champions after two epic contests not only underlines their quality, but also the team’s resilience and redoubtable spirit.

A gallant Loughrea threw everything at the title-holders for the second time in eight days. Playing some glorious hurling and totally committed, they still couldn’t shift Conor Cooney and his colleagues from their lofty perch.

Oh, they had chances to take Sunday’s replay to extra-time, and they will be haunted by late efforts from Neil Keary (twice) and Jamie Ryan which drifted wide of the posts. It was probably the only period over the two matches that Loughrea’s nerve failed them.

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.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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

Treviso visit the Sportsground in what is a must-win clash for home side

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It is not the game you’d have picked out as being a potential season-defining one for Connacht, but defeat at home to Treviso this Saturday (3.15pm) would as good as end the domestic season for the western province with only three chocolates eaten from the Advent Calendar.

Connacht go into the game on the back of yet another game in which they flattered to deceive, a poor display against Munster undoing a lot of the good work of a run of three wins in four games that proceeded last weekend’s trip to Thomond Park.

Head coach, Peter Wilkins, says the players had a tough and hard-hitting review of that game on Monday, and that while they will take the lessons learned from their displays, it is in the past now, with all the focus now on tomorrow’s game.

“The players have been in a really positive headspace, it was a really constructive, but I would say also a confronting review [of the Munster game], and that is what the needed, players taking ownership of mistakes and decision making.

“It is one thing standing up in front of the group and saying ‘I own that’ but it is also about coming up with solutions, how you as an individual or a team can do better next time, they didn’t need picking up emotionally, but there was a fiery determination to do better next time,” he said.

Wilkins, who took over from Andy Friend as head coach ahead of the start of this season, admits that the performance and result against Munster “wasn’t good enough, I think the result and the scoreline reflects that”, but there is no sense of panic in, or pressure on, the squad.

“I don’t think there is an increasing pressure,” he said when asked if Connacht were now entering the realm of must-win games.

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

Thompson the hero as Salthill pull out all the stops in victory

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Salthill Knocknacarra's Lauren O’Donnell secures possession ahead of Chloe Johnston of O’Dwyer's during Sunday's All-Ireland Club Junior Ladies Football semi-final at the Prairie. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Salthill/Knocknacarra 1-7

 O’Dwyer’s 1-6

DARREN KELLY IN THE PRAIRIE

SALTHILL/Knocknacarra’s tales of achievement across all four codes in the last 12 months reached another milestone last Sunday as their ladies football team qualified for the All-Ireland Junior Final.

Last December, the senior hurlers became Connacht champions before the camogie side marched on to a national decider in Croke Park last March.

John O’Mahony’s footballers were just one point short of Moycullen in October’s senior football final. But as the countdown to Christmas began with Friday’s Toy Show, the ladies footballers are 60 minutes away from the club’s biggest present since 2006.

The city side won’t grace Croke Park like their camogie counterparts but overcame torrential conditions to reach to win an All-Ireland semi-final and will face Cork’s Naomh Abán on Sunday week.

Lauren O’Donnell’s goal was the first half highlight as the sun and blue skies graced the occasion, next door to the county senior hurling final replay. But Mother Nature turned vicious upon Loughrea’s defeat in Pearse Stadium and with a half-hour later start, this semi-final felt the full force of the sudden change in weather.

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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