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Galway hurlers recover from early jitters to master Offaly

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Galway 5-18

Offaly 2-15

THE local hard-to-please brigade won’t have been bowled over by everything they saw in Tullamore on Saturday evening, but as a starting point in Galway’s defence of the All-Ireland title, this ultimately convincing dozen-point victory proved more than an adequate launch pad.

First of all, a spirited Offaly offered far more resistance than in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago, resulting in Galway having to roll up the sleeves, particularly in the first half, before stretching clear on the resumption in front of what appeared a conservative official attendance of 8,300.

Understandably, the men in maroon were somewhat rusty early on, especially in defence and around midfield, but the longer the game went the more Galway began to grow in authority against admittedly tiring opponents. Their class, confidence and experience gradually widening the gulf between the teams.

Furthermore, for a squad which only managed two goals in their championship campaign in 2017, Galway’s raising of five green flags – it could have been eight only for the heroics of Offaly ‘keeper Eoghan Cahill – was a significant statement of intent for the rest of the summer.

A cricket-score margin of victory might have left Galway vulnerable in advance of looming fixtures against Kilkenny and Wexford, but their hunger and ambition was tested by Offaly who really carried the battle to the title holders in the opening half, characterised by neatly working through the phases, good support play and loads of commitment.

The home team weren’t intimidated by Galway’s reputation either, lining up conventionally and abandoning their sweeper system which served them so poorly last year. A measure of how competitive Offaly were proving was reflected in them trailing by just a point (1-8 to 1-7) after just 32 minutes.

Galway were getting it hard. Their backline was under pressure, none more so than Gearóid McInerney, whose pace was tested when trying to cover the flanks as well as fumbling one or two possessions. With Johnny Coen and David Burke struggling to get a foothold in midfield, Offaly were creating plenty of opportunities, but nine first-half wides undermined their challenge.

Full match report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Killeen’s stunning equaliser no more than Loughrea deserved in final thriller

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Loughrea's Johnny Coen clearing his lines against Damien McGlynn of St Thomas’ during Sunday's Galway Senior Hurling Final at Pearse Stadium. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

St Thomas’ 1-17

Loughrea 0-20

John McIntyre at Pearse Stadium

ST Thomas’ proud record of having never being beaten in a Galway senior hurling final is still standing . . . but only just after Sunday’s pulsating showdown at Pearse Stadium.

For this was the closest the champions have come to tasting defeat on Galway club hurling’s biggest occasion, notwithstanding the fact that it was Loughrea who had to craft a superb equaliser from Tiernan Killeen in the dying moments to force a replay.

Make no mistake, St Thomas’ had to stretch every sinew to survive a ferocious challenge from a Loughrea team which carried the fight to the title holders from the off, and probably played most of the hurling on the day.

Tommy Kelly’s charges began in explosive fashion. Star forward Martin McManus assembled a hat-trick of terrific points in little more than two minutes, and they remained hugely competitive in a compelling encounter for the time of year.

Highly skillful, Loughrea’s largely young team built on the positive impression they had created in turning the tables on Clarinbridge in the county semi-final. They had St Thomas’ at full stretch at times, particularly in the opening quarter and looked primed for an unexpected triumph when forging into a four-point lead with barely eight minutes remaining.

No team had asked such serious questions of St Thomas’ in their six previous county finals appearance, and it is a tribute to their overall quality and big-day temperament that they are still standing after arguably the best Galway decider of the past decade.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Penalty heartbreak for Tribes

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The Tribes squad which was beaten in the final of the U-19 Irish Cup last week. Back row, from left: Fiona Mooney, Una Ni Riain (manager), Lily Crudden, Lydia Mc Nicholas, Sarah Bradley, Kate Wallace, Alice Corcoran, Aisling Walsh (captain), Goran Sablic (head coach), and Rachel Corcoran. Front: Niamh Connery, Aoife Bundschu, Oliwia Smialek, Iona McDonnell, and Laura Casserly.

Tribes Water Polo Club contested the U19 Irish Cup final last weekend, but suffered defeat in the cruelest way, losing 5-4 on penalties to Cathal Brugha from Belfast after the game had finished 9-9.

The Tribes squad was a mixture of youth and experience, with many of the club’s U-17 cup winners from last year as well as senior players Aishling Walsh, Olivia Smialek, and Sarah Bradley making them a formidable outfit for the tournament.

The weekend began on Friday with a win over North Dublin 16-4, in a game that Tribes girls very much dominated. The second game against Diamonds WPC from Belfast was a much different affair, having stayed with Diamonds for much of the game, eventually Diamonds took command and won the game 13-6.

The third game of the group to decide progress to the semi-final was against an inexperienced Clontarf team, with Tribes winning 22-15, as scores from Sarah Bradley, Alice Corcoran, Iona McDonnell, Lydia McNicholas, and Laura Casserly saw Tribes ease into the semi-final against St Vincent’s.

The semi-final early on Sunday morning was very much dominated by Tribes. Alice Corcoran got the opening and second goal, and Laura Casserly added a third to leave the score 3-1 at the end of the first quarter.

Tribes were using their swimming and their wings to great effect, and further goals from Aoife Bundschu left it 4-2 to Tribes at the half time break. In the third quarter Tribes pushed on adding three more goals from Bundschu and McNicholas who were tormenting the St Vincent’s defence, leaving the score 7-4 at the end of the third quarter.

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

Fatigued Moycullen labour in fending off Strokestown

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Moycullen's Owen Ó Gallagher is about to land one of his three first-half points despite the best efforts of Strokestown's Sean Mullooly during Sunday's Connacht Club Senior Football semi-final at Tuam Stadium. Photos: Seán Lydon.

Moycullen 2-8

Strokestown 0-7

(After extra-time)

Pádraic Ó Ciardha at Tuam Stadium

WHAT a difference a week makes. Just seven days after hitting Westport for 3-18 in a scintillating performance that saw the whole country sit up and take notice, Moycullen stumbled their way into a Connacht final after labouring past Strokestown in last weekend’s semi-final.

A brilliant individual display from Seán Kelly, who grabbed the crucial goal at the beginning of extra-time, was eventually enough to see Moycullen over the line and while there’s no doubt that the Galway side deserved to come out on top, this performance will have to be improved upon if Moycullen’s journey is to continue past Christmas.

Don Connellan’s side went 25 minutes of the second half without a score, racking up wide after wide as they failed to make their dominance count. A free from Dessie Conneely did finally put them 0-7 to 0-5 clear heading into injury-time but Strokestown rallied well and, inspired by former Roscommon footballer Cathal Compton, forced extra-time.

Kelly’s goal, adding to a point from his brother Paul, finally put Moycullen clear and Ger Davoren added a second goal late on to ensure the shattered Moycullen players could at least trudge off at the end with smiles on their faces. Strokestown put in an impressive defensive effort throughout, getting men back to deny Moycullen space to run into but, like their opponents, they also laboured in attack, eventually being held scoreless in extra-time.

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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