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Iconic ladies footballer in quest to break new ground

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Galway's Annette Clarke and Mayo's Fiona McHale will renew their rivalry when they line out for their respective clubs, Kilkerrin/Clonberne and reigning All-Ireland champions Carnacon, in the Connacht club senior final in Ballyhaunis on Sunday.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

When the Galway Sport Stars Committee compiles its roll-call of the county’s top living sporting icons to mark the awards 50th anniversary in the coming weeks, one name sure to be vying for inclusion on that prestigious list will be that of Kilkerrin/Clonberne ladies footballer Annette Clarke.

As captain of the Tribeswomen’s All-Ireland winning senior team which claimed the Brendan Martin Cup in 2004 – the county’s sole success at that level – Clarke was not only ‘Player of the Match’ in that famous win over Dublin, but was also honoured as an All-Star and Ladies Footballer of the Year in 2004.

An All-Star winner again last year – and once more on the nominee list for 2014 – the Galway midfielder has pretty much been recognised as the spiritual leader of the game in the county for almost two decades. Yet, at the age of 33, her passion for the game remains undiminished.

This Sunday, she seeks to add another line to her notable résumé when she leads out her native club against arguably the greatest club side ever in Cora Staunton’s Carnacon of Mayo in the Connacht senior decider. Facing the five-time All-Ireland and reigning club champions, these are the days Clarke relishes.

“We will be going in as underdogs but our girls are so hungry for success. Of course, we have to look at Carnacon but more so look at ourselves and see what we can do best. We are not just there to make up the numbers and Carnacon know that as well. That we are going there to achieve a Connacht title.”

She says that she hopes that does not sound too “cocky” – it’s not her way – but it does underline the driving ambition she has to feed the hunger within. It’s what marked her out as a class apart long before Clarke – also a noted soccer player – captained Galway to Croke Park glory in 2004.

Indeed, by the time she won her Connacht and All-Ireland senior medals that year – the squad celebrate the 10-year reunion of those victories this weekend – she had won Division 2 National League and All-Ireland junior crowns with Galway in 2002 to add to the O’Connor Cup she secured with Sligo IT in 2000.

She also had three county senior medals (1996, ’97 and ’99) to her name with Kilkerrin/Clonberne along with winning – and again captaining – her club to Connacht and All-Ireland intermediate titles in ’99. For a club that was only set up in the early 1990s, that later feat was particularly impressive.

“The rule had come in around 1999 that because Galway had not a senior county team, the senior clubs could play in the intermediate championship. So, we played in the intermediate championship in Connacht that year,” explains the three-time Galway County Sports Star award winner (’99, ’04 and ’13)

After defeating rivals St. Brendan’s in the county final, Kilkerrin/Clonberne then accounted for Padraig Pearses of Roscommon and Aughawillan of Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final and final respectively. This set up a showdown with Down’s Iveagh Bosco in the penultimate stages of the All-Ireland series.

“When you think back, really, that game was a huge occasion for the community and the parish,” recalls Clarke. “Everybody from the village went to Newry that day. Back then, it was just so far away and it was a part of the country you would never travel to.”

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

 

Connacht Tribune

Connacht raise the roof again with magnificent late heroics

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Claregalway's Dara Whelan, Conor Flaherty, Barry Callanan and Dylan Buckley with the Padraig Stephens Cup after their County U20 A Football Final victory over Salthill-Knocknacarra at Duggan Park on Saturday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE dramatic finale at the Sportsground on Saturday ought to have made the RTE Six One News sporting headlines, but there wasn’t a mention of Connacht’s extraordinary late heroics against Gloucester which keeps the province’s hopes of reaching the European Champions Cup quarter-finals alive.

Instead, the rugby spotlight was on Munster’s away defeat to champions Saracens. Later during the sports segment on the Six One News, Connacht’s never-say-die comeback was relegated to the last match of the Champions Cup wrap up. RTE, in their wisdom, believed that Munster’s 15-6 loss and Leinster’s routing of a makeshift Northampton on the same day were somehow more meritorious.

If Leinster or Munster had achieved what Connacht did in the latest round of European pool matches, can you imagine how gushing RTE’s coverage would have been? When a Tipperary man with a strong GAA background starts taking offence over Connacht not getting the coverage they are entitled to, it does give an insight into why rugby in the West feels hard done by in terms of national acclaim.

For all that, last Saturday was another thumping experience on College Road. With their European Championship knock-out ambitions on the line, it was victory or bust for Caolin Blade and company. But when Connacht trailed by 24-13 with less than six minutes remaining, it was impossible to see how they could salvage a result.

A pragmatic Gloucester already had the four-try bonus point in the bag. They may have trailed 10-7 at the break having faced the elements, but  tries from Mark Atkinson (two) and captain Lewis Ludlow turned the game on its head. Connacht were remaining competitive but the breaks were going the way of a team they had never previously beaten.

The home fans in the crowd of 6,800 were understandably resigned to the worst. The yellow carding of Ludlow for a deliberate knock on meant Gloucester were reduced to 14 for the closing minutes, but nobody at the Sportsground thought much of it. Connacht were 11 points behind with time running out. They needed a miracle.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Being backed into a corner could help to ignite the Galway hurlers

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Galway full back Daithí Burke giving Wexford's Paul Morris no quarter during Sunday's Leinster hurling championship clash at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

MICHEÁL Donoghue faces the biggest challenge of his management career so far after Galway’s latest subdued display of 2019 at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. A lot of the same personnel are still there from the team’s magnificent All-Ireland triumph of two years, but the form of a number of influential players has nose-dived since last September’s championship loss to Limerick.

After a late collapse against Waterford in the National League quarter-final, Galway had some questions to answer ahead of their Leinster campaign and not withstanding their significant injury problems over the past few months, the Tribesmen’s stock has continued to decline judging by this month’s displays against both Carlow and Wexford.

Though it’s far from a full-blown crisis and we must keep a sense of perspective, there’s no point being wise after the event. On the evidence of what have seen to date this summer, Galway are dicing with an unexpected premature exit from the championship unless the squad can rediscover the hunger, intensity and quality which characterised many of their performances in 2017.

The continued absence of Joe Canning – and it is a mighty blow – can’t explain everything. Sure, Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Jonathan Glynn, Adrian Tuohey and John Hanbury, an important introduction against Wexford, remain short of competitive action, but as a package, Galway should still be better than this.

Failing to find the net against either Carlow or Wexford, together with the lack of fluency and sharpness, has some local alarm bells ringing, leaving the team management with plenty to ponder on ahead of Sunday week’s big collision with Kilkenny. Lose that and Galway’s season will hang on getting a result at Parnell Park – an unforgiving venue at the best of times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

St Thomas’ man behind the scenes typifies why club is going so strong

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The St. Thomas' management celebrate after their county SHC final victory over Liam Mellows. Left to right: Kenneth Larkin, Claude Geoghegan, Kevin Lally and TJ Ryan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

WHAT was meant to be a few minutes of soundbite ahead of St. Thomas’ All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final clash against Cushendall on Saturday has metamorphosed into a full-scale Talking Sport interview. Simply, because, Claude Geoghegan is an interesting guy.

For the past decade, Geoghegan has been the man behind the scenes and in his own inimitable way he has contributed just as much to St. Thomas’s success story as anybody else in Kilchreest and Peterswell. Perhaps, even more so.

As club secretary, he presided over St. Thomas’ historic county and All-Ireland club victories in the 2012/2013 season while, in the past three years, he has served as selector under managers John Burke and Kevin Lally, winning a county senior crown with each in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is a proud record.

“I have held a few positions alright over the best part of a decade now — four or five years as secretary — and this is my third year involved now with the senior team. It is a way of life, I suppose, more than anything else,” begins the 31-year-old.

“When you are from a rural locality, it is what you are brought up with. It is what you know. If I wasn’t involved in the club in some capacity, I would feel I had a bit too much spare time on my hands. I would feel a bit odd without it, being honest.”

A history teacher at Presentation College, Athenry, Geoghegan explains his family are steeped in GAA tradition. His father Seamus hurled with the club before managing the intermediate team, as it was back then, while his older brother James has also done his duty as club secretary.

“Also, when the club amalgamated in 1968, my father was on the U14 team that won the county championship that year. We actually haven’t won the ‘A’ championship at U14 since. We have won plenty, but not that.”

Indeed, three SHC county titles in the last seven years would suggest that St. Thomas’ is a very special club but Geoghegan argues they are no different to any of the other clubs around. “Every other club is putting in the time that we are putting in. We are not special in any way in comparison to anyone else but we are incredibly fortunate to have a special group of players who have come together at one time.”

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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