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Huge task ahead of Eagles in away Cup encounter

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Connacht's Denis Buckley looks to break through the Scarlets cover in Saturday's Guinness Pro12 encounter at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

THE Connacht Eagles are in week two of a three week run of games that will complete their British and Irish Cup involvement this season. They lost a closely fought encounter on Saturday away to London Scottish 17-7 with a key and reportedly questionable sin binning to Michael Swift playing a crucial role in the defeat.

This Saturday, the Eagles travel to Sardis Road in the Welsh valleys to take on last year’s semi finalist Pontypridd (KO 2:30) in front of a crowd that is likely to be close to 7,000. It will be a tremendous experience for the emerging academy players in the squad but a daunting test all the same.

The formlines suggest a home win. Aughrim centre Conor Finn touched down for a second half try for the Eagles against Scottish last weekend, while out half Miah Nikora added the extras but London Scottish had two converted tries and a penalty to reverse their defeat at the Sportsground last month.

The new structures to that competition mean the pool stages are done and dusted by December which in tandem means no disruption to clubs post Christmas, but these next two weekends are going to put huge pressure on the three Connacht sides in Division 1b of the All Ireland League.

While the other provinces are also in a action and clubs around the country will lose players too, the concentration of talent in just three clubs in Connacht means their teams suffer more adversely as a result of Eagles call ups.

To make matters worse, Connacht are in Challenge Cup action against Bayonne on Saturday at 5pm with an increasing injury list that has Andrew Browne, Robbie Henshaw, Ian Porter and Niyi Adeolokun definitely out and Quinn Roux doubtful which will mean call ups from the Eagles squad. Plus, Pat Lam has openly stated his intention to rotate a little for the Challenge Cup so even more changes might be in store.

It all adds up to a massive challenge for the coaching teams involved with Buccaneers, Corinthians and Galwegians over the next two weekends. They face crunch fixtures start on Saturday with Corinthians hosting Ul Bohemian, leaders Galwegians in Limerick to face Garryowen in a clash of the top two and Buccaneers hosting promotion chasing Ballymena.

Corinthians are likely to have the following unavailable because of Eagles involvement David Panter, Miah Nikora, Pat O’Toole, Ultan Dillane, and Eoghan Masterson but could have more depending on Pat Lam’s selection for the Bayonne encounter and subsequently on Nigel Carolan’s call for the Eagels.

Galwgeians started the season with a squad that had very little Eagles involvement but that has changed fairly rapidly thanks to their hugely impressive form with a number of call ups for their young players. Jack Dinneen, Rory Parata, Caolin Blade, Conor Lowndes and Cian Romaine will all be out, others might join them.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

City sides will fancy chances of advancing as champions face Corofin

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Bearna's James Kennedy hits the deck in Ballinasloe on Tuesday as Annaghdown's Frankie Burke and Darragh Meehan try to chase down possession. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The battle for this year’s county Senior Gaelic football club title looks to be wide open after the quarter-final draw was made this week following the delayed conclusion of the group stages on Tuesday night.

Salthill/Knocknacarra, who finished second in group 2, have been handed a last eight tie with a Tuam Stars side that finished third in group 1; while St Michael’s, who topped Group 3, will face an Annaghdown side that nabbed the final quarter-final spot in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night.

They went into their game with Bearna knowing they needed to win by a minimum of 12points to pip Milltown to the final qualifying spot as the second best of the teams that finished third in the group stages.

They looked to be coming up just short until they were awarded a late free, which goalkeeper James Healy converted, to snatch that remaining quarter-final slot on socring difference form Milltown.

The 2020 champions, Moycullen, will take on Claregalway in the last eight; while the pick of the ties is undoubtedly the clash of defending champions, Mountbellew/Moylough, with a Corofin side that was denied the five-in-a-row by Moycullen two years ago.

At the other end of the equation, St James’ are in a relegation battle, and face a clash with An Spidéal in the preliminary play-offs. A win will secure their senior status for another year, but a defeat will see them join Oughterard, An Cheathru Rua, and the losers of the other preliminary play-off between Caherlistrane and Monivea/Abbey in a round robin league, with the bottom two sides in those play-offs dropping to the intermediate ranks next year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Play-offs dress rehearsal facing Utd against Treaty

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Former Galway United player Enda Curran celebrates his recent hat-trick for Treaty United in their FAI Cup quarter-final win over UCD. The in-form Mervue native will be facing the Tribesmen in a First Division clash on Friday.

GALWAY United head to Limerick this Friday evening for what is looking like a dress rehearsal for the end-of-season play-offs as they take on Treaty United in the Markets Field (7.45pm).

This is United’s game-in-hand over league leaders, Cork City, and a win will see them close the gap on the Leesiders to four points with three games remaining, and while a win would give the slightest of hopes of a late challenge for league honours, it is more likely to serve as a further boost to confidence ahead of the protracted play-off series that kicks-off at the end of next month.

United need to win their final four games to have any hope of snatching the title, and given the goal difference between the sides, they also need to hope that City don’t pick up more than four points from their last three games, if they are to finish top of the pile.

United’s last three games after this weekend are at home to Athlone, away to Wexford, and home to Longford Town; while City are home to Wexford, away to Athlone, and home to Bray, the easier of the two run-ins, so for United it is all about building momentum ahead of the play-offs.

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

Late points from Burke and Wall grab draw for Corofin

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Tuam Stars' Paul Collins tries to halt Ronan Steede of Corofin in his tracks during Sunday's Senior Football Group 1 encounter at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Corofin 0-16

Tuam Stars 0-16

Eanna O’Reilly at Tuam Stadium

A late point from Corofin’s Ian Burke denied Tuam Stars a notable win over their close neighbours in an entertaining contest at Tuam Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In a closely fought contest, the Stars appeared to have done enough with two late points from Brian Mannion putting them ahead by 0-16 to 0-14 in the dying minutes of the second half.

In typically composed fashion however, Corofin refused to panic and used all of their experience to engineer two late scores, the first from Dylan Wall, before Burke held his nerve to convert a mark to give Corofin a share of the spoils.

The result means that both sides qualified for the quarter finals, after both finished the group stages with eight points. Corofin were drawn against defending champions Mountbellew/Moylough in a mouth-watering tie, while Tuam Stars will face Salthill/Knocknacara in another intriguing clash.

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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