By John Fallon
Former Irish U-20 Ciaran Gaffney has been forced to retire from rugby because of a back and neck injury which almost left him paralysed. He is devastated that his dream of being a professional rugby player is over at 23 years of age, but tempers his disappointment knowing that he is fortunate not to have a permanent serious disability.
The injury which ended his career came seven minutes into a game against, of all teams, the Connacht side he grew up supporting and whose academy he had come through.
That match for Zebre in the Sportsground in February was being viewed by Gaffney as a game where he could show what he was capable of and maybe take another step towards coming back to play for the side he cherished.
Instead, he ruptured a disc in his back, dislocated his neck, and spent three days and nights immobile in a brace in hospital before undergoing an operation which necessitated the surgeon cutting through the front of his neck to get access to the problem.
And throughout it all, the six-hour operation, the six days in hospital, the six weeks in a neck brace, rehabbing in Galway, Parma and Bordeaux, Gaffney clung to the dream that he would be able to go back playing rugby.
Rugby has been part and parcel of his life since his father John, who headed up the youths’ section at Galwegians RFC, dragged him along to the Saturday morning sessions in Crowley Park when he was two, throwing him into action with the mini-rugby players when he was four and from there all he wanted to be when he grew up was to be a professional rugby player.
“It was one of those things when I was growing up. If it was my birthday and, in front of the cake, somebody said make a wish that was always my wish, ‘I want to become a professional rugby player’. It was all I ever dreamed of.”
And the pathway soon opened up. He came up through the ranks in Galwegians, he was running the sideline for Connacht at the Sportsground as a ballboy by the time he was eight, secondary school at ‘The Bish’ in Galway and Cistercian College in Roscrea enhanced a growing reputation, Irish representation followed, and as he was going through the Connacht academy he chalked up 10 appearances for the Ireland U-20 side.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms
Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.
The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.
Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.