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Galway depleted for opening round of National League against Meath

Francis Farragher

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GALWAY’S bid to make a winning start to their Division 2 National League campaign against Meath at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (2pm) hasn’t been helped by a range of absentees due to injuries and Corofin’s All-Ireland club commitments.

The news didn’t get any better over the past few days with Annaghdown’s Damien Comer ruled out of contention for the next few weeks after breaking a finger in the intermediate hurling semi-final against Bennettsbridge on Sunday while Micheál Breathnach’s Peadar Ó Griofa picked up an injury with NUI Galway.

They join Paul Conroy and Johnny Duane on the injured list while Finian Hanley, on a belated January honeymoon, has just resumed training last week. The long term news on Conroy and Duane is quite positive with both expected to be back pushing for first team places for the March 1 home clash with Laois.

Back into contention for starting places on Sunday are the Cortoon trio of Adrian and Paul Varley and Cathal Mulryan, who were ruled out of FBD action due to their involvement with the third level colleges.

While the long term prognosis for Galway is encouraging, with the injection of possibly up to eight Corofin players into the panel and the return of his injured men, Kevin Walsh must face up to the far more immediate challenge in the shape of a Meath side that ran Dublin to two points in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final (1-15 to 1-13).

“For the moment we just have to look at what’s facing us on Sunday. In terms of player availability, we have what we have, and this will be an opportunity for a number of players to stake a place on the team.

“We could have done without the latest injury news on Damien Comer and Peadar Ó Griofa but we just have pick ourselves up and really make a huge effort to secure two home points on Sunday,” said Walsh.

He said that while they couldn’t ignore the lessons from Roscommon’s goal burst last Sunday, the overall performance from Galway was quite good, and they fought all the way to the end.

“We’ve had a good hard look at where things went wrong for us last Sunday, for a very short but a very crucial period of the second half, and we’ve been working hard to tighten things up for next Sunday.

“A good start in the league can make a really big difference and I know that the team we’ll line out on Sunday will give this match a big go. Early points in the league can help to build momentum but we are facing a major challenge,” added Walsh.

His Meath counterpart Tommy Dowd has made no secret of the fact that one of his big ambitions for 2015 is to win promotion to Division One of the National League and he will be travelling to Salthill with quite a settled side.

Paddy O’Rourke, sub Michael Newman and Sean Tobin, by all accounts, posed the most serious threat to Dublin in an O’Byrne Cup semi-final that drew a crowd of 7,500 people to Pairc Tailteann in Navan.

Meath are always an ultra-competitive outfit and in the corresponding fixture last year in Navan they dished out a 3-18 to 4-11 beating to Galway, a match that was to be a portent of things to come in terms of defensive frailties later in the year.

That scoreline does tend to take on an added relevance given Roscommon’s second half scoring burst in the FBD league final at Kiltoom on Sunday when they cut apart the Galway defence to rifle home four second half goals.

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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