Inside Track with John McIntyre
THERE was enough to crab about Galway’s display in Castlebar on Sunday, but the only thing that mattered when all’s said and done was the result. Set up for a fall with all the hype about them after a really progressive league campaign, the Tribesmen admirably toughed it out in getting the better of Mayo for the third year running.
Ultimately, it took an injury-time bullet from Johnny Heaney to seal Galway’s passage to the Connacht semi-final and though football purists will bemoan a shockingly defensive-orientated battle for supremacy, the bottom line is that Kevin Walsh’s squad have seriously smoothed their passage to the new Super 8s later in the campaign.
The local critics will understandably question why it took Galway so long to settle the issue. After all, Mayo were missing key players Cillian O’Connor, Brendan Harrison and Lee Keegan, had Diarmuid O’Connor rightly dismissed approaching half-time, lost Tom Parsons to a serious leg injury while the All-Ireland finalists of the past two years also spurned a series of clear-cut chances.
Galway came with the same formula which served them so well in reaching the league final. They again piled numbers behind the ball, only this time their counter-attacking wasn’t carried out with the same pace or cut and thrust. They were standing off too much at times, handing Mayo no shortage of territory and possession, particularly in the first half. A more economical opposition would have punished Galway, but the home team lacked conviction in the shooting, while the normally influential O’Shea brothers, Aidan and Seamus, looked somewhat off the pace.
Against that background, Galway obviously had the opportunity to be more adventurous but, by and large, they stuck rigidly to the system until a maze of substitutions energised the attack with increased pace and movement. In that context, Walsh and his mentors help to win this fraught affair from the sideline with the timely introductions of Ian Burke, Sean Kelly, Eamonn Brannigan and Adrian Varley.
Indeed, Varley, Burke and Kelly combined to do the spadework for Heaney’s superb matchwinner and all will be chasing promotion for the Sligo match at the start of June. Galway may have ridden their luck at times against 14-man opponents, but they were the ones who were able to conjure up that moment of magic to help maintain their current mastery over Mayo.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Shannon back in full flight!
There was a festive atmosphere at Shannon Airport this week as the inaugural Ryanair Corfu service prepared to take flight – ahead of another new service to Gran Canaria, which begins this week.
The new route to the popular Greek Island will operate twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays until the end of October, and the new weekly Ryanair service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) begins this Saturday.
All of this means that Shannon Airport is now serving Alicante, Barcelona, Stansted, Gatwick, Kaunas, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Manchester, Corfu, Faro, Lanzarote, Malaga, Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and Turin.
Passengers on the first Corfu-bound flight enjoyed a pre-departure reception in the airport’s transit lounge which was decorated in festive style.
To celebrate the new routes, the airport gave one lucky passenger a special surprise, return flight tickets for two people to a choice of one of Shannon Airport’s 17 exciting destinations.
A special water cannon salute by the airport’s fire service added an extra sense of occasion as airport staff welcomed passengers and looked after them throughout their time in the airport.
Welcoming the new air services Mary Considine, CEO, Shannon Group, which owns and manages Shannon Airport said: “The global pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives and being able to once again welcome our passengers as they take to the skies bound for sun drenched holiday destinations is really wonderful.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
All out in force to cheer home one of their own
Sitting on an airplane, mid-air from Japan en route to Dublin, Olympic bronze medallist from Moycullen, Fiona Murtagh was unsure whether anyone would be at the airport to meet her and teammates Aifric Keogh of Na Forbacha, Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty when they touched down.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there was no big welcoming party planned for Dublin Airport. But Fiona need not have worried; as she strode out of airport security and into Arrivals, all her family were there to hug her.
Fiona hadn’t seen her parents Marguerite and Noel since April because of a pre-Olympic training camp in Italy; and her siblings Pádraig, Lorraine and twin Alan all turned up, too.
“Oh my God, I couldn’t believe it. It was actually really emotional, it was so lovely. I didn’t expect the full family to be there. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t seen mom and my dad in seven weeks,” said Fiona.
That was just the first leg of what was to be a heart-warming homecoming for a hero.
The family drove back to Galway with Fiona, who had heard “through the grapevine that there was going to be something in Bushypark”.
“But the scale of it, I didn’t expect it at all, it was incredible, it was so lovely to see everyone come out and support and see me”, she said.
Read the full story over eleven pages of coverage on the homecoming of our Olympic heroes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie