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Keegan’s intervention to see Galway FC prolong season

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Gary Shanahan's had a goal bound headerr handled on the line on Friday night, but Ryan Manning's subsequent penalty was saved by Shels' 'keeper, Nathan Murphy.

Shelbourne 1

Galway FC 1

Jake Keegan cemented his status as a cult hero amongst Galway FC fans when he headed home a deserved equaliser five minutes from time in Tolka Park on Friday night to all but secure a promotion play-off spot for Tommy Dunne’s side.

Keegan’s goal means Galway FC go into next Sunday’s final game of the season three points clear of Wexford Youths, who are the visitors to Eamonn Deacy Park, but with the Tribesmen enjoying a far superior goal difference, Wexford will need a winning margin of seven goals if they are to leapfrog their hosts.

Friday had all the hallmarks of it being just one of those nights for Galway FC when nothing would go right as home goalkeeper Nathan Murphy had the kind of inspired performance that would have fitted in perfectly with a storyline from Roy Race’s Melchester Rovers (younger readers – ask your dad!).

He pulled off a series of top-drawer saves, including saving a 60th minute penalty from Ryan Manning, but he was eventually beaten five minutes from time with the deftest of headers from Keegan. Manning picked up possession wide on the left and curled the ball into the box, and Keegan timed his run to perfection, running across the defenders to meet the ball at the near post and while Murphy got a hand to the ball, he couldn’t prevent it from crossing the line.

As expected, Alex Byrne slotted into the heart of midfield on Friday night in place of the suspended Ryan Connolly in the only change from the side that snatched a 96th minute winner against Cobh Ramblers the previous Saturday.

As for the hosts, they made a staggering five changes to the side beaten away at Finn Harps that same weekend, with the injured Gary Dempsey the only enforced change in that quintet. They adopted the traditional 4-4-2 formation, but at times it was if they were playing with just two central defenders at the back as full-backs Brian Gannon and Lee Desmond pushed right up alongside – and often ahead of – their two wingers.

That should have meant they were vulnerable to the counter-attack, but for that to happen, Galway FC needed possession, and the visitors had hardly a kick of the ball in the opening 10 minutes. For all that, a lot of the Shelbourne play was lateral, with Conor Gleeson never called in to action.

The visitors finally began to settle, and Keegan found space to drive at the heart of the home defence just as the clock ticket into double digits, holding off John Sullivan to create the opening, but he lashed a shot wide as his balance deserted him.

He turned provider two minutes later when exploiting the space vacated by Gannon to curl an inviting cross into the box, but Vinny Faherty didn’t know whether to head it or stick a leg out, and in the end did neither.

Galway had overcome their early nerves and they grew as a threat, with the pace of Manning and Gary Shanahan proving such a concern for the home side that Gannon took the proverbial ‘one for the team’ when hauling Manning down just five yards inside the Shels half as the underage international looked set to skin him and head for goal.

But it was Keegan who was proving to be the biggest thorn in the side of Shels, and only a fine save by Murphy denied him the opener in the 20th minute after he rode the challenge of two defenders, and skipped past the would-be tackles of two more.

Galway were applying all the pressure, but they needed to turn it into a goal. They almost got one in the 32nd minute when Murphy opted to punch, rather than catch, a Manning free-kick. The ball landed at the feet of Paddy Barrett, who hit it on the half-volley, and while Murphy was beaten, Willo McDonagh was on hand to clear off the line. And then Shels scored.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

The serious stuff starts for Galway in clash with Mayo

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Galway's Shane Walsh and Lee Keegan of Mayo who won't be featuring at MacHale Park on Saturday evening. Walsh is taking a short break, while Keegan has retired after a great career.

By Darren Kelly

EVEN though it’s their third game of the year, the 2023 season really kicks off for Galway’s senior footballers on Saturday at MacHale Park, Castlebar (7:30pm) when they begin their National League campaign under lights against rivals Mayo.

It comes just two weeks after the Green and Red scored a semi-final victory over the Tribesmen (2-18 to 3-12) on their way to a first FBD League title since 2012.  But the stakes will be much higher for this one.

First, Galway are back in the top flight after earning promotion along with Roscommon last year, and will be determined to stay among the league’s elite.

But with a new-look championship coming up in April, including a round-robin All-Ireland series, league positions will be vital for seeding for any team not claiming their provincial title (Galway will meet Mayo in the Connacht semi-final, if the latter overcome Roscommon).

“It has been the plum draw for us,” stated Galway manager Padraic Joyce during the week. “The one we focused on since we went back training in November. It’s going to be a big occasion, big crowd expected and it’s a battle we’re looking forward to.”

It’s six months since Galway went down to Kerry in the All-Ireland Final but Joyce will hope to have most of his contingent available. Liam Silke is abroad while Kieran Molloy (cruciate) is back in rehab but any return for him won’t happen before the championship. Shane Walsh definitely won’t be involved due to a long club season with Dublin’s Kilmacud Crokes.

Also, the Galway management have up to 15 players currently involved in the Sigerson Cup. For example, Galway captain Seán Kelly is back in the panel after Maigh Cuilinn’s club campaign brought them to an All-Ireland semi-final. But that doesn’t mean he’ll line out on Saturday night.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Flooring Porter’s Cheltenham Festival hat-trick bid depends on results of X-ray

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Killimordaly's Kerril Creaven, a member of the winning syndicate, leads Flooring Porter and jockey Danny Mullins back into the winners’ enclosure after retaining his Stayers' Hurdle crown at last year's Cheltenham Festival.

DUAL Stayers’ Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, Flooring Porter faces a race against time to defend his crown in March.

The popular eight-year-old has suffered a setback which could scuttle his chances of emulating the feat of Inglis Drever in being crowned the champion staying hurdler for a third time.

Flooring Porter’s trainer Gavin Cromwell sent the horse’s fans into a tailspin last week when revealing another successful trip to the Cotswolds was in jeopardy.

Cromwell didn’t reveal the nature of the problem, but it is believed to surround a minor back injury which has brought a halt to the horse’s regular preparatory work on the gallops.

His participation at the big National Hunt Festival could hinge on the result of an X-ray late next week as the Seán Murphy bred gelding is currently restricted to a daily routine on the horse walker and swimming.

Flooring Porter had produced a somewhat underwhelming effort in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December – a race he had won in 2021 on his way to a first Stayers’ Hurdle crown – when only finishing fourth behind new big-race favourite Home By The Lee.

The outcome of that race resulted in a five-day ban for jockey Danny Mullins after he was adjudged by the stewards not to have obtained the best possible placing – Flooring Porter being caught on the line for third place by Meet and Greet after Mullins eased his mount in the final 25 yards.

It is now believed that the horse’s back issue, which only came to light on veterinary examination a couple of weeks ago, may have contributed to Flooring Porter not setting the relentless gallop at Leopardstown his fans have become accustomed to.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Uphill battle faces Connacht in wake of shocking display

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Prop Finlay Bealham whose three try haul wasn't enough to save Connacht from a dismal loss to Newcastle Falcons in the European Challenge Cup at Kingston Park on Saturday.

Newcastle Falcons 35

Connacht 21

By JOHN FALLON AT KINGSTON PARK

IRISH coach Andy Farrell said that Mack Hansen’s ability to cover full-back as well as the wings will make him the sort of player who will be invaluable for the World Cup in France later this year.

And Farrell, speaking at the launch of the Six Nations in London on Monday, also said he was not concerned about the lack of game-time Bundee Aki has had for Connacht this season.

Aki was again absent when Connacht blew a glorious chance of staying in Ireland all the way to the conclusion of this season’s Challenge Cup with an error-ridden performance being punished by a Newcastle side already out of contention prior to Saturday’s tie at Kingston Park, having lost all three games in the competition.

Hansen again played at full-back for Connacht and while he too wasn’t immune to the plethora of mistakes which destroyed their hopes, the Irish coach sees him as a vital cog.

“We’ve put him there a few times ourselves, we know there’s talent there in that type of position and that’s exactly what the difference is between an international side and a club side. With a club side, you’ve got 50 players training all the time.

“In a club side, it tends to be ‘he’s the best in that position, he’s the second best in that position and he’s the third best’ whereas with the international side, when you fast forward, you can only pick 33 in the World Cup, it becomes pretty good that your number two in that position can play two or three positions and your number three in that position can play three or four positions. The likes of Mack being able to do that is pretty important for us.”

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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