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IRFU stop star men Henshaw and Marmion from playing

Dara Bradley

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THE new Guinness Pro 12 season for Connacht gets underway against Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground on Saturday (5.15pm), minus their brightest stars and the razzmatazz associated with them.

Ireland backs, Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion are both fighting fit but unavailable for selection due the IRFU’s policy of resting internationals through its player welfare programme.

Pat Lam’s sensational summer signings are also unavailable for the opener that has a decidedly low-key feel to it.

New Zealand legend Mils Muliaina, who arrived in Galway last week, is unavailable until October due to an elbow injury.

Connacht reputedly outbid two Irish provinces to secure the services of Waikato Chiefs centre Bundee Aki, who has sights on qualifying for Ireland through residency, but he, too, is unavailable this weekend.

If you start as you mean to go on then a match-day squad without Henshaw, Marmion, Muliaina and Aki is not ideal.

Presumably the Irish duo will be released for the glamour tie at home against Leinster in a fortnight; and if not then, why bother?

Still, the absence of the star quartet won’t deter the crowds who throng the College Road venue as much for the whole entertainment ‘package’ as they do for the rugby.

On a plus, captain John Muldoon – and he is the full captain, not a rotating captain or ‘one third’ captain like last season – is recovered from injury and is likely to be named in the starting XV that will be announced at noon Friday.

Another Galway native, prop Ronan Loughney has also returned to full training but Lam has a string of injury concerns that are worrying so early in the season and for a squad that hasn’t yet played a competitive match.

Matt Healy remains out after fracturing a hand in the pre-season friendly away to Clermont Auvergne, while also on the injury list are Tiernan O’Halloran (knee), Andrew Browne (knee), Jason Harris-Wright (shoulder), Mata Fifita (shoulder) and new signing from FC Grenoble, Shane O’Leary (quad), a Cork native.

Full preview in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Odds favour Turloughmore and St Thomas’ showdown

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Loughrea's Martin MaManus and Conor Jennings in action against Conor Kavanagh of Liam Mellows during the recent senior hurling championship quarter-final. They face title holders St Thomas' at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

By Patrick Earley

IT’S been one of the best championships we’ve seen for years and this weekend, we reach the penultimate stage of the 2020 senior hurling championship with two epic contests in store at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

In what has been a year of new structures, new routines in training and on match-day, the cream has once again risen to the top with the four teams left standing in the race for the Tom Callanan Cup.

Loughrea ensured there would be some alteration to last year’s semi-final line-up dumping Liam Mellows out of the title race in the quarter-final but that aside, it’s as you were with St Thomas’, Cappataggle and Turloughmore all returning to this stage again. What happens from here though is anyone’s guess.

St Thomas’ v Cappataggle

Pearse Stadium (1.30pm)

It’s hard to credit given the success of these two sides in the last five years that this will be their first meeting in the senior championship in recent memory.

Luck of the draw has kept them apart in the groups and knockout games over the years, but now the stars have aligned to pit these two senior hurling heavyweights against one another in Sunday’s opening semi-final contest.

Both came through contrasting quarter-final contests with St Thomas’ playing some scintillating hurling at times in a deserved victory over Killimordaly, while Cappataggle for their part had to show character and patience to weather an opening half onslaught from Ahascragh/Fohenagh before taking over in the second period to secure a six-point victory.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Utd steal the points thanks to Farragher’s late winner

Keith Kelly

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Galway United's Shane Duggan scoring his team's opening goal in Friday night's First Division win over Shamrocl Rovers B at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 2

Shamrock Rovers B 1

Keith Kelly at Eamonn Deacy Park

GALWAY United were given the runaround by a bunch of kids last Friday night, but just when it looked like they would have to settle for what would have been a scarcely deserved draw, Kevin Farragher popped-up to head home a winner four minutes into injury-time for the grandest of larcenies this side of the Belarussian election.

As good as they were against UCD the previous Monday, United were well below par on Friday night against a second-string Shamrock Rovers side that featured nine teenagers in the starting XI – including one 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds.

In another time, United would have wobbled away with a draw – at best – but the new-found confidence instilled in the side by John Caulfield since his arrival less than a month ago is plain for all to see, and while the win didn’t mean the gap on the top five was closed, what it does give is momentum, and coming towards the end of a season, that is a precious commodity.

As for Caulfield, Friday’s win means he is only the second-ever manager in United’s history to begin his managerial tenure by winning his first three league games. The only other man to achieve that feat was the legendary Tony Mannion, who took charge of United for the first time in the 1985/86 season and saw his side win their first five league games.

In fact, Mannion presided over a 16-match unbeaten run in that 22-game league season, with the first defeat coming in what was effectively a title-decider against Shamrock Rovers in Terryland on March 2. If Caulfield can match that kind of start, you can be sure it will lead to a spot in the play-offs.

“It was a game I was really worried about all week. We played two games away, a midweek match that saw us get home at 2 in the morning, and Rovers are a dangerous team, very quick, beautiful on the ball, and we were second best for much of tonight,” Caulfield said after the game.

“There haven’t been a lot of smiles around the club in a while, and coming off the pitch and winning those two games last week, you could see the smiles on their faces, and it was the same there tonight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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Mountbellew/Moylough rarely at full throttle in dismissing 14-man Killannin

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Killannin's Ruairi Greene is challenged by Colin Ryan of Mountbellew/Moylough during Sunday's senior football quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Mountbellew/Moylough 2-13

Killannin 1-5

JOHN FALLON AT PEARSE STADIUM

THERE was little demand on Val Daly’s Mountbellew/Moylough to show their full hand at Pearse Stadium on Sunday as they brushed aside the disappointing challenge of Killannin in a one-sided senior football championship quarter-final.

Killannin really couldn’t afford to have to chase this game but after losing the toss and having to face the wind, they were as good as gone by half-time when they trailed by 1-7 to 1-1 and were down to 14 men.

That meant that Mountbellew/Moylough just had to contain their advantage after the restart and they did this with considerable ease in a dismal contest full of ball being played back and forth across the pitch.

Killannin just could not mount a comeback with the elements but didn’t help their cause by laboured build-ups, and their task was near insurmountable when wing-back Ronan Caldwell was sent off for an off-the-ball tussle with Ger Donoghue just before the break.

The contest wasn’t helped by a lot of niggly fouling and play-acting by both sides and referee Ronan McNulty might have gone with a firmer hand but, in truth, Mountbellew/ Moylough’s dominance was never in doubt and the question that remains is how much they can now raise their game as they bid for a fourth final appearance in six seasons.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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