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End of home rule for Connacht

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Connacht 3

Ulster 10

 

THERE is no time to take stock. Putting this defeat in context will be easier once the lights go off at the RDS arena on New Year’s Day as by that point, Connacht’s position within the inter-provincial hierarchy might be a lot clear but for now, this St Stephen’s Day gut-wrenching loss to Ulster is a hard one to assess.

Les Kiss and his young squad – barely recognisable from the team that won 27-20 in Galway last April – are blazing a trail after a patchy start. The 15 that took to the field at a sold-out Sportsground on Saturday were still on a high from their back to back wins over a Toulouse side that sit second in the Top 14.

In the absence of the likes of Iain Henderson, Dan Tuohy, Jared Payne and Tommy Bowe, Ulster seem to have lost no ground whatsoever. In fact, and don’t say this too loudly, they might actually be playing better. It’s not that Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Stuart McCloskey and Rory Scholes are better individually, but they are certainly adding a collective burst of energy to Ireland’s form team.

Ulster arrived in Galway with five wins and four defeats on the Pro12 campaign, trailing Connacht and well aware that the upstarts from the west would be a threat to their top four hopes if a result wasn’t garnered here.

The form sides from the island locked horns and for long periods cancelled each other out in a real 80 minute struggle for superiority. The game was won in the last ten minutes and Ulster had the know-how and confidence to figure out how to win it, while their hosts froze for the first time all season.

This defeat is very much the first real body blow of an incredible campaign to date for Connacht and watching how they react in the upcoming hugely challenging away ties against Leinster this weekend and Llanelli on January 10 should be fascinating.

Previous defeats in this campaign away to Glasgow and Cardiff were certainly frustrating as a victory was very much in the offing in both cases, but this was the first time they trudged off the field second best against in-form opponents and on home soil.

Purely in terms of the game’s most memorable moments in the 22, one could argue that Connacht were hard done by here. The opening ten minutes were full of vim and vigour from the men in green who had Ulster scrambling.

Full match report in this week’s Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

O’Keeffe says season’s goal of winning promotion remains very much in United’s sights

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Conor O’Keeffe in action against Cobh Ramblers FC earlier this season. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United full-back Conor O’Keeffe insists there is no talk in the camp about the upcoming promotion play-offs, with all the focus each week being on the next game up for the side rather than the battle to join champions-elect Shelbourne in the top-flight next season.

A scoreless draw at home to Treaty United last weekend, coupled with a 2-0 win for Shelbourne away to Cork City, means the Dublin side has moved 10 points ahead of United at the top of the table with five games remaining.

Having lost just once all season – a defeat which was inflicted by United – the Tolka Park side are unlikely to let that 10-point lead slip, meaning that United’s hopes of promotion will rest with the play-offs.

O’Keeffe, who turns 28 on Sunday, says that promotion remains the goal of the squad, and that is the focus, not on the route that will be needed to secure that.

“We are taking things one game at a time, if you look beyond that, you forget to do that’s in front of you, so we are not even looking at the playoffs, you have to show up for each game.

“You have to take it just game by game, if you look farther ahead, you get a little carried away and you lose focus, and you just have to keep going.

“We just need to finish as high up the table as we can, anything can happen, it is a funny game at times, football, we have just got to believe – if you don’t believe there is no point, our goal is to get promoted and we still believe we can do that,” O’Keeffe says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Favourites all advance with ease in the FAI Junior Cup

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Athenry's Seán O'Callaghan heads in his side's second goal despite the best efforts of Paddy Gannon and Shane Trill. Photo: Kennedy-Beirne/Eirefoto.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

It might only have been the preliminary round of the FAI Junior Cup, but for certain teams with ambitions, it was hopefully the start of a long trail towards ultimate success, and the four fancied sides all advanced from their games with various degrees of comfort last weekend.

In the only all Premier Division clash, James Ryan secured the match winner as West United saw off St Bernard’s 1-0 in South Park. It was Ryan again who went closest to a second, but his effort on this occasion was thwarted by the woodwork. The victory sets them up for a First Round contest against Tuam Celtic on the last weekend of the month.

Hibernians were 3-2 winners over Dynamo Blues in Bohermore as Shane Hulgraine, Nathan Ward (striker) and an own goal were enough to see off the Tuam side for whom Alex Schmitt scored twice.

Scoreless at the break, Colga did all the damage against Bohemians on the resumption as they ran out 4-0 winners with Neil Greaney (3) and Colm McDonagh sharing the goals – Colga and Hibernians meet in the next round.

As to be expected Athenry were the most comfortable winners of the day as they defeated Renmore 6-0 with three goals coming in each-half. New central defender, Sean O’Callaghan, scored his first goals for the club as he notched a brace, while Adam Duffy, Declan Cullen, Colm O’Donovan and Garvan Broughall were also all on the mark as they set up a neighbourly contest with Corofin United.

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

Galway United nearly there but scope for improvement

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Galway United's Joe Gorman on the ball against Kieran Hanlon of Treaty United FC during Friday night's First Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 0

Treaty United 0

A contest between two evenly-matched teams finished in stalemate on Friday night, nudging both sides closer to the play-offs, but leaving neither in doubt that major improvement is needed if they are to escape the doldrums of the First Division.

United shaded things in the first-half, with the visitors being the marginally better side for much of the second until they were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of former United man, Marc Ludden.

Already providing a stubborn and frustrating resistance to their hosts, Treaty dug in even further following that 73rd minute red card, and with United struggling to find their mojo of late, the game petered out into that predictable scoreless draw.

The league takes another break this weekend with the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup taking centre stage, giving the United camp some additional time to find that spark that has been missing for the past three games following that stirring 3-1 win over Shelbourne in mid-August.

With free-scoring UCD up next for United, that additional time needs to be well spent for, while United are almost assured of the play-offs, they have serious work to do to if they are to take confidence and momentum into those play-offs, and the visit of the Students to the Dyke Road on Friday week will really test the home side.

John Caulfield made two changes to the team which beat Cabinteely the previous week, with Luke Dennison coming in for the suspended Conor Kearns in goals, while Stephen Walsh replaced Alex Murphy at left-back.

The game was preceded by a thunderous minute’s applause from both home and away fans for the late Sam Oji, a man who graced the jersey of both Galway United and of Treaty United’s predecessor, Limerick FC, who died suddenly last month from cancer at the age of just 35.

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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