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Join the band and run with Outlaws to land the Hurdle



Aramon and Patrick Mullins, white cap, jump the final flight alongside Hunters Call, left, and Hearts Are Trumps on their way to winning the 2020 Guinness Galway Hurdle.

By George McDonagh

WHEN putting my thoughts together for this preview a year ago, I believed I had two sure things: the first was that Early Doors would win the Galway Plate; the second was that 2020 would be the only year we would have no racegoers in attendance at the big Ballybrit Festival.

The first I got 100% right, the second, well yes we will have 1000 people, but it will still feel empty at Galway Racecourse next week. On the positive side, in excess of 125,000 people will have received a Covid vaccination dose at the track this year.

This year both feature contests, the Tote Galway Plate and the Guinness Galway Hurdle, offer increased prize money of  €250,000 which is simply extraordinary in the current climate, but testament to the tremendous work of the Race Committee and management at the racecourse.

Looking at the Tote Galway Plate, the eventual outcome I believe will centre on whether the classy Samcro, on a mark of 158, takes his chance or not as if he does there are plenty of progressive sorts ready to take advantage off a low weight.

Samcro himself is all class despite not maybe reaching the heights many (myself included) thought he would. He is a dual Grade One Cheltenham winner, but carrying top weight in a helter-skelter Galway Plate will put his jumping to a test that I believe he may not pass.

The quality of the Plate fields have risen sharply in the last number of years and, in order to find the winner, one most look at runners that you think have a few pounds improvement “hidden” in their body.

Last year’s gambled on runner-up Royal Rendezvous is back again for the all powerful Willie Mullins team, although now rated seven pounds higher (153) than his slightly unlucky three-quarter length defeat 12 months ago when not having the clearest of runs in the straight.

He has had just two runs since, firstly at Punchestown when well beaten after being badly hampered at the start, and then at Ballinrobe when he dotted up in a conditions hurdle at long odds on – but I feel he may have too much weight .

The Shunter (152) has been a revelation since Emmet Mullins has found the key to him and sauntered home in the Mildmay Of Flete at Cheltenham having collected the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso en route. He then found Grade 1 company too tough at Aintree but on collateral form, The Shunter has a fair bit to find with A Wave To The See, one of a couple of Joseph O’Brien trained contenders that take the eye.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Bridie O’Flaherty delivers – from beyond the grave!



Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Even years after their deaths, some Galway politicians are still being credited with securing works.

At a recent meeting of Galway City Council, during discussion about the BusConnects project on the Dublin Road, it was outlined how a traffic lights junction would be installed at the entrance to Merlin Park Hospital as part of the overall works.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said there was nothing new about this proposal – it had been first mooted by the late Councillor Bridie O’Flaherty in The Connacht Sentinel newspaper more than 30 years ago.

Bridie, a former Mayor who retired from politics in 1999 and died in 2008, had for a long time campaigned for the lights.

Her daughter, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind), confirmed to the meeting it was at least 35 years since her mother had proposed traffic lights at the hospital entrance.

Another former mayor, Cllr Angela Lynch-Lupton (FG), who retired from politics in 2004 and died in 2007, was credited by Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) for championing a pedestrian bridge on the old Clifden Railway Bridge – a ‘Millennium Project’ that should have been built over 20 years ago but looks set to proceed in the coming years.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said credit for the bridge was also due to former Fianna Fáil Minister, Séamus Brennan, a Salthill man who was TD for Dublin South until his death in 2008.

“He put it forward as a Millennium Project and I was Mayor at the time,” said Cllr McDonnell.

Maybe when the projects are eventually brought to fruition, they could be named after their original supporters.

The Bridie O’Flaherty traffic light junction doesn’t necessarily trip off the tongue, but the (Séamus) Brennan Bridge has a ring to it.

(Photo by Joe O’Shaughnessy: The late Bridie O’Flaherty with her daughter Terry in 1999).

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway City centre streets to be dug up – yet again



From this Week’s Galway City Tribune – Just days after the annual tourist season kicked off with the St Patrick’s weekend festivities, an area of the city’s main throughfare is to be dug up yet again.

The City Council confirmed this week that “upgrade works” at the junction between High Street, Shop Street and Mainguard Street are to commence next week, drawing the ire of local business people and residents.

One local councillor and businessman said the works, which brought huge disruption while being carried out on other stretches of the route in recent years, should have been carried out while footfall was lower in January and February.

Cllr Níall McNelis told the Galway City Tribune that business people in the area were outraged at the news, and despite assurances from the Council that the works would be done “without major disruptions”, bitter experience has taught them otherwise.

“They’re outraged, to be blunt. They just can’t believe this is happening now,” he said.

“Everyone understands that these works are necessary, but this is going to take weeks out of what should be one of their busiest times.”

Works in the area were left incomplete as a result of the visit of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine in 2019.

In a statement issued by the Council, Director of Services Patrick Greene said the works should be “substantially completed by early June”.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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What a melt: proposed bylaws put 20-minute limit on ice cream vans in Galway!



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Ice cream vans will only be allowed to sell to the public for 20 minutes before being obliged to move on to a different location if proposed new bylaws for casual trading in Galway are adopted.

The 2023 regulations to replace the 2011 bylaws will also outlaw any single use plastic products to be given out or sold by stall holders, including bottles, cutlery, containers, single use sachets, plates and straws. Compostable or reusable alternatives must be used instead of single use plastics.

The maximum time that the ice cream mobile unit can be stationary at any one location is 20 minutes.

Traders will avoid huge cost increases seen elsewhere – it will cost €267.50 annually per bay for Eyre Square (up marginally from €250). In St Nicholas’ Market it will be €69.50 per linear metre – generally equating to €139 for regular size pitches, an increase of €9.

Stall holders will again have to buy a separate licence to trade on Sundays and for the market Wednesday to Friday in July and August. But they will be able to set up shop for free at Christmas if they hold a licence for Saturday or Sunday.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read more on the draft Casual Trading Bylaws, see the March 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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