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Bad day at the office for makeshift Connacht

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Ospreys 29

Connacht 7

ON paper Connacht looked to be fielding a relatively strong team when they travelled to Swansea on Saturday to face one of the best sides in the Pro 12 so far this season and one of the most explosive attacking outfits in European rugby. In reality though, this was a patched up Connacht side that were once again outfoxed and out battled in a key game, this time by the Ospreys.

Only six of the 15 that lined out in last year’s Pro12 final were starting here for Connacht, as well as the trio who were already signed up by other clubs the day they took to the Murrayfield pitch, (Henshaw, Muldowney and MacGinty). The likes of John Muldoon, Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Kieron Marmion were all unavailable to Pat Lam for this one.

What the Connacht Head Coach had at his disposal was a fully fit first choice front row who once again delivered a brilliant and completely dominant display at scrum time and a fully fit first choice back three who demonstrated in the stats, at least, that they are still in top form. Tiernan O’Halloran made 123 metres on 12 carries, Niyi Adeolokun made 92 metres on nine carries, while Matt Healy had 74 metres, also on nine carries.

The problem, however, comes with what Connacht did with the gains they made from these two key areas of the field. The scrum penalties led to lineout opportunities and that set piece area is in disarray at the moment, four key lineouts in Ospreys territory were turned over while the advantage they had in the back three was completely negated by the fact that their rookie centre partnership was found wanting.

As if that wasn’t enough, Jack Carty picked up a serious knee injury during a first half where Connacht conceded two tries in the first 15 minutes. With three other out halves all unavailable through injury, third choice scrum half Caolin Blade was next in line to slot in to stand off and while he put his heart and soul into the role, it was always asking a lot against the league’s most potent attack.

In terms of scoring, the Ospreys bagged two tries from back row forwards Dan Baker and Olly Cracknell in the first half, all coming from surging attacking rugby with the initial break starting inside their own half on each occasion. By half time, Connacht had fought back in general play but they failed to convert numerous chances and inexplicably, for the second week running, turned down an easy three points along the way.

Early in the second half, Sam Davies kicked his side into a 17-0 lead before Nicky Smith powered over for a third try and while Sean O’Brien got his first try for his province on 72 minutes, that was just a consolation as Ashley Beck sealed the bonus point for one of the title favourites with the last play of the game.

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway minors continue to turn season around with latest win over Derry

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Galway players Seán Dunne, Fionn O'Connor and Adam Colleran celebrating their All-Ireland Minor Football semi-final win over Derry at Parnell Park on Saturday. Photo: Ray McManus /Sportsfile.

THE results may not have gone Galway’s way in the Connacht minor football championship, but team manager Alan Glynn never lost faith in his young squad.

And his belief in them has certainly been justified following deserved victories over Dublin and Derry in the All-Ireland series, setting Galway up for a unique third championship collision with Mayo in the one year.

The more games Galway are playing, the better they are getting, and Glynn is in no doubt that their extended championship run will do wonders for the development of his players.

But after losing three times in Connacht – twice to Mayo – how did Glynn, and his backroom team of Tim Rabbitt and Michéal Antaine Ó Loidéain, manage to turn their season around?

“We did speak in the dressing-room after that game [Connacht final] and we said, ‘look that’s the Connacht championship done with, that’s one competition finished and we’re now into a new All-Ireland competition.’

“There were eight teams left and we took that look to things. At the end of the day, we had lost three games in Connacht, and I suppose if you were to dwell on that, we could get bogged down and we could get negative. We just said, ‘We’ve finished second in Connacht. Not what we wanted but it’s where we were and we’re now into the last eight.’

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Aki captains Ireland, scores a try but tourists’ first match ends in heavy defeat

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Ireland captain Bundee Aki touches down for a first-half try against the Maori All Blacks on Wednesday, but the game ended in a disappointing loss for the tourists.

IT should have been a night to savour for Bundee Aki who was honoured with the Irish captaincy for the first game of their daunting tour to New Zealand.

Leading an inexperienced tourist selection, Aki could hardly have wished for a better start after powering over for Ireland’s first try against the Maori All Blacks.

But it was nearly all downhill for the men in green subsequently on Wednesday. Ireland were repeatedly carved open and trailed by 32-10 at the break.

On a night when fellow Connacht player, flanker Cian Prendergast, also started and prop Finlay Bealham was a second-half substitute, Ireland never really fired despite not conceding another score on the resumption.

But all the tourists could add to their tally was a converted Gavin Coombes’ try in a disappointing opening to their five-match tour.

Ahead of the game, Aki said it was a “huge privilege” to captain Ireland against the Maori All Blacks after initially suspecting head coach Andy Farrell was joking about giving him the responsibility.

New Zealand-born Aki led a youthful side containing five uncapped players on Wednesday night as the Irish kicked-off their summer tour of his homeland.

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.

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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

Galway have more than a prayer of toppling Limerick

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Galway’s Tom Monaghan breaking away from Limerick’s Kyle Hayes during their National League encounter at the Gaelic Grounds last February The teams clash again in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.

THEY are unbeaten in the championship since the All-Ireland semi-final of 2019; are chasing a fourth Liam McCarthy Cup in five years; and when it comes to brute force and physicality, they have no peers in the game.

This is the Limerick team that Galway must upset the odds against in Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final at Croke Park (3.30pm). And though few give them a realistic chance of doing so, the Tribesmen are at least capable of giving the champions a searching test.

Galway will also draw encouragement from their last semi-final battle with Limerick in 2020 at an empty Croke Park. The teams were level in injury time only for the Shannonsiders to salvage a result with Tom Morrissey catching fire late on.

It was a contest with no goals (0-27 to 0-24) and benefiting from a flying start, Galway really carried the fight to Limerick despite suffering the loss of Cathal Mannion through injury in the opening-half. It was an occasion which also stood out for Joe Canning’s remarkable feat of converting four sideline cuts – a record number for one championship game.

The team’s long-time ace marksman is no longer involved, but apart from the also retired Aidan Harte and long-term injury victim Shane Cooney, Galway will again be relying on the bulk of those players from that semi-final of two years in their quest to turn the tables.

Naturally, it will be one less if, as anticipated, Gearóid McInerney fails to recover from the knee injury which forced him to hobble off before half-time in their quarter-final victory over Cork in Thurles last Saturday week.

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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