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Derby win sees Sky Blues remaining in pole position

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Galwegians Aidan Moynihan on the break against Buccaneers in last Friday's Division 1b encounter at Crowley Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

THE Galwegians march continues after their vitally important victory over Connacht rivals Buccaneers under lights at Crowley Park on Friday night. The top four in Division 1b of the Ulster Bank League all won last weekend making for a real log jam at the top of the table.

For the Sky Blues, the improvement in recent weeks has been a huge boost, Friday’s 12-6 win over Buccaneers was their second on the bounce and while it was far from an error free top notch display, in tough conditions, they dominated possession and territory and showed good patience after going 50 minutes without a score. The two tries then came quickly and they saw it out comfortably.

Matt Brown’s side are top of the pile on 47 points leading by one point from Garryowen with Ballymena and Dublin University occupying third on 44 points. There are five rounds remaining and they have two games at the end of Feburary starting on the 20th away to Ballymena and then at home to Corinthians in the Galway derby on the following Friday.

The challenge for Corinthians is simply survival at this stage and a losing bonus point in a loss away to Shannon at the weekend at least helped them get off the bottom of the table. They face two Connacht derbies at the end of this month, starting at home to Buccaneers and then away to Galwegians. Their season might well be defined by the result in those two games.

Junior Cup

On a day of tension, gripping rugby and upsets, the reigning champions Galwegians were knocked out while the students of NUIG caused a major upset in the last 16 round of the Heineken Connacht Junior Cup.

Momentum paid off for both NUIG and Ballinrobe on Sunday. Each won their preliminary round games seven days previously and they each took that good away form into Sunday.

In Loughrea, NUIG pulled off a shock result in ousting the 2011 finalists with a superb second half display where they broke the deadlock with two converted tries in a 14-0 win that puts them into the last eight.

Meanwhile in Creggs, the home side’s brilliant run of form came to an end as Ballinrobe followed on from their superb win over Tuam last week with another battling display on their travels to win 14-9. Peter Cosgrove’s first half try proved the difference in a captivating cup tie.

For Galwegians, the momentum of last year was gone on Sunday and they fell to strong second half performance from home side Ballina who won 27-10, scoring three tries without reply during an impressive second half.

A little further south but in the same county, rivals Castlebar and Ballyhaunis played out a hard hitting encounter where the home side defended superbly in a 15-3 win.

The clash of contenders Buccaneers and Monivea was postponed due to a frozen pitch in Athlone while Connemara underlined their title credentials with a big second half display in Ballinasloe, winning 18-7 having trailed at half time. Peter O’Toole and Jack Vaughan got the tries.

Last year’s beaten finalists Westport are also through to the quarter finals after a scrappy away victory at OLBC, while Corinthians are safely into the last eight thanks to a big win in Headford against Corrib.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Big boost for Connacht as dozen make Irish squads

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Former Galway minor hurler Shane Jennings who is one of six Connacht players named on the Irish U20 rugby squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

By Rob Murphy

THERE was some off season good news for Connacht this week with confirmation of 12 players from the Sportsground having made it into international squads at senior and U-20 level.

Six Connacht players were called into Andy Farrell’s 37-man senior international squad for next month’s two tests against Japan and USA. Three of those are looking to make their international debut in Tom Daly, Paul Boyle and Caolin Blade; while three more are looking to continue their progress with the Irish squad in Dave Heffernan (5 caps), Ultan Dillane (18 caps) and Finlay Bealham (14 caps).

For Daly, the progress from fringe starter to captaining Connacht has been a rapid one. The 27-years-old inside centre from Carlow is now a key part of Andy Friend’s plans having led the way in starts this season and his consistent form has clearly caught the eye of Farrell too, with the recent stand-out effort in the win over Munster at Thomond Park no doubt a key factor.

At 24, Boyle has already amassed 57 appearances in the green of Connacht having made his debut in 2017. He also has captained Connacht on multiple occasions and while he missed some of the end of season Rainbow Cup games, the Gorey native was a consistent almost ever present part of the back row during the PRO14 campaign.

Monivea man Blade is back in Ireland camp for the second season in a row and will hope to get his first cap this time around. The 27-years-old is being rewarded for another excellent season in the nine shirt for Connacht where he led the team in starts at scrum half and scored five tries in 20 appearances.

Ireland will play two games in the Aviva Stadium next month starting with a clash against Japan on July 3 before they host USA on July 10.

The Irish U-20s will be involved in Six Nations action, starting tomorrow against Scotland with the month-long tournament taking place entirely in Cardiff to help guarantee a safe environment for players.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway surrender top flight status after Clones collapse

Stephen Glennon

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Galway’s Robert Finnerty who scored 1-3 in their costly National League relegation play-off defeat to Monaghan in Clones on Sunday.

Monaghan 1-21

Galway 2-17

(After Extra-Time)

NO thermometer was required to take the temperature of those hundred or so die-hard Galway supporters who travelled to Clones last Sunday. With their side five points to the good and time almost up, they watched on in horror as a winning lead was blown.

The result: Galway beaten. The result: Galway are no longer a Division 1 county. The result: Galway now have just won one game in their last seven competitive outings. The result: Galway have gone from a side on the brink of something in spring of 2020 to an outfit that has regressed and have now been cast back to the land of mediocrity.

That Galway boss Padraic Joyce didn’t make himself available to the media afterwards to put some positive spin on the performance only compounded the result. By not offering some take, he left a dangerous void in which disgruntled supporters have begun to weave their own narrative about where Joyce’s Galway are at.

Ironically, with time almost up in Clones, it appeared the Tribesmen had turned the corner after a poor run of form. First half goals from Paul Kelly and Rob Finnerty saw Galway lead this thrilling relegation game by five points going down the home stretch, but in the five minutes plus of normal time injury-time, they came undone.

In hindsight, hauling off Galway’s two best forwards – Robert Finnerty and Shane Walsh (although he was nowhere near his best) – was a mistake as it not only blunted the point of attack but deprived it of the guile and experience that they needed to see this game out.

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.

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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 U20s set to make up for lost time in delayed final

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Conor Walsh who is a key member of the Galway U20 hurling team seeking Leinster final glory when they take on Dublin next Wednesday.

GALWAY’S U20 hurlers have a number of injury concerns ahead of their long overdue 2020 Leinster final clash against Dublin at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, next Wednesday evening, June 23. Throw-in 7:30pm.

Among them are Sarsfields midfielder Alex Connaire and Craughwell wing-forward Adrian Prendergast, both of whom scored in the Tribesmen’s victories over Laois and Kilkenny last December, but they now look set to miss the provincial decider with groin and pelvis injuries respectively.

“This game is just too early for them, it has just come too quick,” says Galway manager Jeffrey Lynskey, who says Connaire and Prendergast join an injury list that also includes long-term victims Mark Gill of Castlegar (metatarsal) and Conor Hynes of Liam Mellows (shoulder).

“We are lucky enough though that we have depth in the squad and can pull on lads who are performing and doing well (in training). They have trained well, in fairness to them, over the last five weeks.”

Indeed, Lynskey says the form is good in the camp, outlining the focus has been getting the players back up to speed with in-house and challenges games against the Galway development panel.

“In all the in-house and challenge games, they have performed really well. They are all looking forward to getting back. They have trained hard, really, over the last five weeks and they put a serious bloc of work in during the third lockdown. Gym-wise, they all came back in fantastic shape.

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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