By John Fallon
Connacht have knocked down many barriers in recent years, their first win in Belfast since 1960 over Ulster a couple of weeks ago the latest chip at decades of underachieving.
Their success in France has been outstanding, but they get the chance on Saturday to rectify a major shortcoming in Salford near Manchester when they will bid for what will be only their third win in 23 visits to England since the game went professional when they take on Sale Sharks (3pm
Just about every other milestone has been reached in recent times and with new coach Andy Friend bringing them forward with confidence after two years of decline, the time couldn’t be more right for a rare win in England.
However, the prospect of a third win in England is going to be difficult with Sale Sharks coach Steve Diamond, speaking after their excellent 41-24 win in Perpignan on Friday night, making it clear they are going full-strength, including a likely debut for Chris Ashton as the former England winger comes back from a seven-week ban which has delayed his debut since the summer move from Toulon.
“We pride ourselves, as Connacht do, on our home record. We take this competition very seriously, the club have won it twice,” said Diamond.
“Chris Ashton will be back, we have a few others back in the fold as well and we will be giving it everything.
“With ourselves and Connacht in this group there is going to be one big battle and we need to get ourselves ready for that,” he said.
Connacht, fresh from the 22-10 win over Bordeaux-Begles at the weekend, are also likely to rest some players but will also have others available.
International Kieran Marmion will miss Saturday’s Challenge Cup trip to Sale Sharks but should be back for the following week’s clash away to Ospreys.
Full-back Tiernan O’Halloran has recovered from injury and is available; while prop Denis Buckley, lock Ultan Dillane and back rower Paul Boyle, all who were rested for the 22-10 win over Bordeaux-Begles, are back for the trip to the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford. Prop, Peter McCabe, is going through the HIA protocols this week.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.
Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.
The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.
“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.
“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”
Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.
“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.
The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools
Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.
“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.
“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.
A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.
College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.
Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.
“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.
In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.
“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.
“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.
Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.