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Galway’s footballers restore some pride

Dara Bradley

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Galway’s footballers must dust down and regroup after Sunday’s 3-14 to 0-16 Connacht final defeat to Mayo, as they set their sights on tackling an improving Tipperary outfit in the All-Ireland qualifier series.

Alan Mulholland’s men face the Premier County on Saturday week, July 26, at Tullamore (7pm) in a repeat of last June’s qualifier in Salthill, which Galway won – but not with any conviction.

The beaten provincial finalists can look forward to that encounter with some confidence, however, because, despite losing to the 2013 All-Ireland runners-up, there were many positives to be gleaned from Galway’s display at McHale Park, Castlebar.

The big plus is Galway played with pride and honour and stayed going until the end, traits they couldn’t be accused of possessing in the record semi-final defeat to Mayo in Pearse Stadium last summer.

In truth, a physically more robust, more experienced and more seasoned Mayo side were always in control of this decider. For long stretches, James Horan’s men bullied Galway in the middle third of the field, and pounced on nearly all of the breaking balls at kick-out time, which strangled the visitors in the first-half.

Mayo were clinical and showed composure to build a lead but Galway were the architects of their own downfall, too. Galway kicked 11 wides over the 70 minutes, were unlucky not to convert three clear-cut goal chances – they hit the woodwork twice and shaved it once – and had a penalty excellently saved by Robert Hennelly.

For all that it would be remiss to give the impression that this was some sort of Galway hard-luck story – Mayo missed several major and minor scoring chances and were full value for the win . . . it was that sort of game.

At least Galway were creating the chances though, and showed serious signs of a team that is taking shape and that has the potential for a bright future, again something that wasn’t evident after losing to Mayo last year.

CITY TRIBUNE

Saltonstall joins an elite club in tight finish to Galway Mile

John McIntyre

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Galway jockey Leigh Roche drives out Walking On Glass, green colours, to win the Latin Quarter Handicap at Ballybrit on Tuesday.

THE value of course and distance form at Ballybrit was again underlined on Tuesday evening when Saltonstall joined an exclusive club in landing the Colm Quinn BMW Mile for the second year running.

But connections of the Ado McGuinness trained six-year-old had to endure an agonising wait before being declared the winner after a desperate photo finish with another 11/1 chance, Njord, at a near-deserted Galway.

In replicating the achievement of both Pinch Hitter and Riven Light in the past, it took an inspired ride from apprentice Gavin Ryan to nail the unlucky runner-up which looked to have the €75,000 feature sewn up entering the final furlong.

Seven lbs higher than when triumphant 12 months ago, Saltonstall flew up the hill and flashed past the post with the Jessica Harrington trained Njord, provoking a lengthy photo finish.

The smart money was on a dead heat, but Saltonstall eventually got the verdict – a frustrating outcome for Harrington, who also saddled the third and fourth, Only Human, and the 9/2 market leader, Tauran Shaman, respectively.

There was success for local jockey Leigh Roche in the concluding Latin Quarter Handicap when Walking on Glass (28/1) bounced back to form. Always travelling sweetly, the five-year-old made smooth progress in the dip and gradually reeled in Conron on the climb to the post

Portumna owner Tony Deegan saw his colours carried to victory as 100/30 favourite Out On Friday finally broke its maiden status in the Caulfield Industrial Handicap (Div.1) under Colin Keane. The winner is trained near Birr by Philip Byrne.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

West take their chances to advance to the last eight

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West United's Nathan Ward comes under pressure from Mikey Verdego, Conor Devlin, Aidan Coyle (left) and Colm Kelly (6) of Galway Hibs.

West United 2

 Hibernians 0

Two second-half headers sealed a home win for West United at South Park on Sunday as they saw off a Hibernians side who were much improved on early season form and indeed were probably the better side in this Connacht Junior Cup last sixteen contest.

It was the visitors who had wind advantage in the opening half, but while they enjoyed plenty of possession, they rarely threatened Aaron Connolly’s goal and such was the strength of the elements, one felt an advantage was going to be required at the break.

Rather surprisingly, the second-half fell into a pattern not expected, as the visitors continued to play the better football and do most of the attacking, but they generally floundered when facing the West central defensive duo of Oisin Connolly and Denis Lydon. The pair were outstanding for the home side and, in reality, were overworked, as Hibernians tried to rescue something from the game.

For the home side, their only first-half opportunity came on 44 minutes when a cracking left-footed effort by Nathan Ward came back off a post. Otherwise, play was mostly concentrated on the Town goal, but set-pieces provided the only outlet for the visitors to get off the mark.

Indeed, even getting past the defensive unit was a difficulty as Aidan Coyle and Stephen Walsh struck numerous free-kicks into the wall. In open play, efforts off target by Shane Hulgraine and Lee Keogh were the closest Martin Devlin’s charges went to a scoring reward.

The resumption saw the hosts take a quick advantage of the elements when, 52 minutes in, Nathan Ward took advantage of a Gary Matthews cross that was originally cleared up in the air and with a backwards header, his effort looped beyond PJ Ward to make it 1-0.

The probing of Niall Rooney, Colin Kelly and Shane Hulgraine kept West on their toes at the back, but apart from a few goalmouth scrambles and set-piece deliveries, they never clearly got a sight of Connolly’s goal.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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

Big blow for Galway trainer as Presenting Percy is moved from Kelly’s stable

John McIntyre

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Two-time Cheltenham festival winner Presenting Percy with Pat Kelly at his stables in Craughwell. The popular nine-year-old has been moved to Gordon Elliott's yard this week.

THE horse box driver rumbled through the parish of Craughwell on Monday morning certain of his destination, but unsure how to get there.

In an era where bad news travels fast, within hours the horse racing fraternity knew that Pat Kelly’s stable had been stripped of its star.

Two-time Cheltenham festival winner and one of the most popular horses in training, Presenting Percy, has headed to new pastures – Gordon Elliott’s yard in Longwood, Co Meath.

It’s a devastating blow for the small-time Kelly stable which has successfully mixed it with the sport’s big operations at different stages over the past three decades.

And not alone has Presenting Percy departed the West, but seven other horses carrying Philip Reynolds’ colours in the Kelly stable are also being dispersed to new handlers.

The decision was a tough one for Reynolds, who has enjoyed spectacular success at the Cheltenham festival through the exploits of Presenting Percy and the ill-fated Mall Dini, also trained by Kelly.

These triumphs for the low-key, media shy Galway handler fascinated the racing public and when Presenting Percy lined up for his first crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 – the blue riband of chasing – he was sent off the market leader. Punters love an underdog story and Kelly fitted the bill perfectly.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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