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Galway City teams bite the dust

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David O'Gorman

DESPITE rousing displays, Galway city’s two senior hurling clubs, Liam Mellows and Castlegar, both exited the race for the 2014 County Cup last weekend and, consequently, must now face into what is sure to be a gruelling relegation battle over the summer months.

No doubt, it was a heartbreaking 24 hours for the city’s senior sides as Mellows squandered a nine-point half-time lead against Gort – eventually losing 4-13 to 4-11 – before a gritty Castlegar outfit shot an incredible 17 wides in their 0-17 to 0-11 defeat to 2013 All-Ireland champions St. Thomas’.

For Castlegar’s part, they will reflect with regret on their poor marksmanship over the 60 plus minutes of their tie at Kenny Park on Saturday. In all, they created 32 scoring chances but a return on just a third of those – 11 points – ultimately proved their undoing.

On almost every other statistic, a workmanlike Castlegar came out on top. They put in more hooks, blocks and tackles, won more ruck ball and conceded less frees – just 7 to Thomas’ 13 –but this will only compound the frustration they must harbour towards their wide tally in the aftermath of this loss.

In contrast, St. Thomas’, playing against the wind in the opening half, took seven of just eight scoring chances to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at the break. It was such economy in front of the posts that stood to a St. Thomas’ outfit which was ably led by the Burke brothers, Kenneth, David and Eanna.

The trio contributed seven points of their side’s final tally – young Eanna registering four – while Conor Cooney also chipped in with four from placed balls. The game also marked the return of Richie Murray (retirement) and James Regan (long term injury) and they both were on the scoresheet late on.

In any event, the former All-Ireland club champions will bid to become the last team into the hat for the group stages when they face neighbours Craughwell in the outstanding second round fixture at Kenny Park, Athenry on Saturday (5pm).

As for Castlegar, who were reduced to 13 men following the sending off of substitute Kevin Keane and Padraig O’Flynn deep into injury-time, Ger Farragher was their main contributor with six points from placed balls.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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.

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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.

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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

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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