Date Published: 26-May-2011
THE Olympic Saddlery Connacht Grand Prix League 2011 kicks off at Claremorris Equitation Club this Sunday, with a host of Galway riders competing for the overall prize fund of €45,000 in the 11-leg series.
Charged with the smooth running of the competition – which is heading into its fifth year – are Connacht Coordinator, Tom Dixon and Chairman of the League, Mark Duffy. Both men believe this year’s Grand Prix League will be bigger and better than ever.
“It has proved to be a huge success over the last four years,” says Dixon. “The entries are getting bigger and bigger each year and there is more and more prizemoney going into it. The League, though, has certainly bridged a gap, in that there was nothing really there for riders five years ago and now they have a competition that has proved to be a huge success. It has given, I suppose, riders the opportunity to better themselves before they move on to the national scene.”
While the average competing at any one show is 50, larger events, such as the Galway County Show, would have over 100 riders vying for the honours. In the first three years of the competition, Claremorris’ Karl Hanley – who has since emigrated and is running a successful yard in Germany – took the overall accolade, while Mohill’s John McGuinness pipped Gabriel Slattery of Irishtown for the title last year.
Galway riders have also featured prominently, with Michael Duffy – Mark’s nephew – not only winning a round of the League but also claiming the junior section title in 2010. With two new horses this year, the 16-year-old, who has won two silver medals at the European Pony Championships already, should give the older competitors a run for their money for the overall prize.
Among the others the organisers expect to feature are Belclare’s Rachel Creaven; the Lee family and Evan Flynn from Headford; Gort’s Jessica Burke, who won a gold medal at the European Pony Championships; Clarinbridge’s Sinéad Conneely; Ardrahan’s Amanda Fahey; and Bohermore native Owen Horan.
Damien Griffin from Ballinasloe also receives special mention. “He has been very successful internationally, coming second in the Hickstead Speed Derby last year,” says Mark Duffy. “So, he would be well up there.
“There will also be a few new faces this year, such as Stephen Moore in Rockmount (Claregalway). He has three horses that have been upgraded and this year they are ready for the Connacht League. He has been gearing them up for it.”
Given the current economic climate, one would imagine that a sport generally regarded as an expensive endeavour would be suffering. Duffy, though, stresses this has not been the case. “We actually think it (the downturn) has helped the Connacht League. Because we have been able to keep the prize fund high, we believe we will attract more competitors.
“In fact, we have the same prizemoney on offer as the national league – and you have it all in your own region. So, it reduces the cost of travel and that, in turn, should galvanise the support for the Connacht League rather than take from it.”
This point is reiterated by Dixon. “Going to shows, people can see where the value for money is, particularly in relation to the prizemoney. The Connacht League has €45,000 on offer this year and, again, because of that, I think we will see a lot of extra interest from outside the region this year.”
Indeed, the minimum prize fund per show is an impressive €3,000, with prizes for the top eight competitors each day. Several of the 11 legs will take place locally, namely Headford (June 11), Galway County (June 18), Loughrea (July 16), Ballinasloe (July 24) and Duffy’s Equestrian Centre (July 31).
Once again, Olympic Saddlery (Briarhill Business Park) is the main sponsors, with Horse Sport Ireland, Gain Horse Feeds/Brooklands Bedding, Cavalor Horse Feeds & Supplements and Elite Rosettes on board as associate sponsors. “Sponsorship is so important these days; it is absolutely vital,” says Dixon. “We are very appreciative of the amount we have been getting and all the sponsorship we have.”
However, Duffy – a son the former internationally renowned course builder, Paul Senior – insists that the success of the Connacht League is not just down to sponsorship alone, noting that those associated with showjumping in the West of Ireland have really embraced the competition “as their own”.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.