Inside Track with John McIntyre
JOE Schmidt’s halo has slipped a little further in the wake of Ireland’s shock World Cup defeat to Japan in Shizouka on Saturday. Suddenly, a dreaded quarter-final against the All-Blacks is now almost inevitable unless there are further unexpected results in Pool A.
It’s a scenario Ireland probably thought that they had avoided when easily dismissing Scotland’s disappointing challenge in the opening round. That performance gave the men in green the ideal platform for the rest of the tournament, only for the wheels to come off in spectacular fashion against the brilliant Japanese.
After their Six Nations struggles, a record-breaking pummelling from England in the build-up to the World Cup, several controversial omissions from the final squad and ongoing concerns about Johnny Sexton’s fitness, there was something of a cloud hanging over Ireland in advance of their long trek to Japan.
But all of that appeared to be left behind after putting Scotland to the sword. This was deemed as the key fixture of the pool and Ireland had got the job done very efficiently, with their physically imposing pack to the fore. The assumption now was that the Irish would drive on ahead of a knock-out collision against South Africa.
Well, that prospect has been virtually kicked to touch after Saturday’s calamitous loss to the host nation. Initially, we were led astray by the action in really demanding humid conditions. Ireland established a 12-3 lead in the opening quarter, with Connacht’s Jack Carty the creator of their tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney.
Incredibly, Ireland would not score again – a period of nearly 60 minutes – as the Japanese stormed back into the contest. Ya Tamura kicked his penalties, while they created a superb second-half try from Kenki Fukuoka to turn the match completely on its head. It says everything about Ireland’s collapse that they were content to settle for a losing bonus point in the end.
Some Irish players were out on their feet long before the finish on a chastening day when individual inspiration was sadly lacking as the game progressed. Some chickens came home to roost as well. Rory Best’s lineout accuracy again was a problem, Conor Murray is simply not the player he was, while Peter O’Mahony’s lack of discipline also hurt the team.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries
Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.
As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.
During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.
The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.
As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.
Branar reaching for skies at former airport
Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.
Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.
The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.
At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.
“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.
At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.
Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions. Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.
Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.
And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.
Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.
Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory
IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.
Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.
It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.
Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.
It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.