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Late collapse leaves Connacht at foot of table

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Connacht 11

Ospreys 32

THERE are some positives to be taken from Saturday’s second straight defeat at the Sportsground and Pat Lam certainly was keen to point to an improved work rate and the fact that Connacht led here 11-10 after an hour of rugby but, by the end of the game, his side were once again well beaten, once again clearly off the pace.

A shambolic pre-season programme that yielded only one competitive game has left the Connacht team on the back foot and struggling going into week three of the new season and facing what is now a pivotal fixture away to Zebre of Italy on Saturday evening. That’s not just a must win, it is a character defining game for Connacht. The attitude of the entire group will be under the spotlight this weekend.

A win won’t solve all the problems either as the team must travel to Llanelli a week later before home games against Edinburgh, Ulster and Toulouse. There’s just no way of side stepping the reality. Connacht are in a real mire at the moment and a lot of the blame is being placed on a pre-season that saw two of their three planned games cancelled.

Of course, many are also pointing to the departures from the squad during the off season. Aly Muldowney’s name stands out in these discussions. The 32-year-old second row was on the team of the week in French national newspapers at the weekend after his performance for Grenoble in their home tie with Brive.

However, two games into the season, it is far to early to judge the real impact of losing the likes of Muldowney, Robbie Henshaw and AJ MacGinty among others. The squad is well off their best form for the moment and desperately seeking redemption in the coming weeks. A fully fit, settled Connacht team will surely offer more than what we saw here in the final 20 minutes.

In fact, even though Connacht led on the hour mark, the Ospreys seemed to have an edge for most of that period. Their defensive stand before half time maintained a 10-3 lead and was akin to the type of organised intensity we saw from Connacht last season. The brilliant Rhys Webb had powered over for their first half try. Sam Davies had converted and added a penalty, while Jack Carty had Connacht’s only reply.

In the second half, Connacht got within four when Carty scored again and had the extra man when Ospreys’ influential number eight Tyler Ardron was-sin binned. They took advantage as well with Eoin McKeon scoring after a brilliant set of attacking phases that included some great work from Tiernan O’Halloran and quick hands along the backline with Bundee Aki giving the final pass.

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Utd finish in a blaze of glory to take badly needed win

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Galway United’s Killian Brouder gets to the ball ahead of Athlone Town's Shane Barnes during Friday's First Division clash at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 2

Athlone Town 1

Mike Rafferty at Eamonn Deacy Park

GALWAY United have gone behind in seven of their 11 League of Ireland games so far this season, but at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night, they came from behind to win for the first time and as ever they left it late.

Trailing to a Shane Barnes goal from the 24th minute, United levelled matters courtesy of a Ruairi Keating penalty, before the Mayo native came to the rescue again with an additional time winner as the home side got exactly what they deserved.

As has become a feature of Galway United games this season, they were an enigma in the opening half before producing probably their best half of football on the resumption. In the first 45 minutes, there was neither shape nor style to their game as they ballooned long balls and hoped striker Wilson Waweru could work miracles.

It is difficult to know if it was the introduction of three fresh faces at the break that rejuvenated the home side on the resumption or the tactical changes from manager John Caulfield, but it became a half they dominated and the only agony for the hundred or so supporters was wondering could the home side could strike for a winner.

No doub, the fans offered support and the place erupted when Keating got on the end of a McCormack corner and the ball somehow made it over the line despite the efforts of Micheal Schlingerman and a covering defender for a dramatic late winner.

Caulfield had some harsh words to say after a heavy defeat against Shelbourne in their last game and obviously not helped by suspension (Stephen Walsh) and injury (Carlton Ubaezuonu), it gave an opportunity for 16-year-old Alex Murphy to play his first game for Galway United.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway and Mannion play catch up to reel in Rebels

John McIntyre

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Galway's Cathal Mannion who was a big influence in their National Hurling League victory over Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday.

Galway 3-25

Cork 2-23

John McIntyre at Pairc Uí Chaoimh

WE’VE known for the past few years that this group of Galway hurlers are as talented a team as there is around, but one All-Ireland and one National League title sells their overall quality short in terms of silverware.

Sure, in the often heartbreaking history of Galway hurling, the county’s current generation of elite players have achieved what only four Tribesmen teams have done in the past, but the nagging feeling is that they should be winning more.

Perhaps, that balance sheet is about to take a turn for the better on the basis of Galway’s last two performances in the league. In both those contests against strong opposition, they were in trouble after falling well behind. Their opponents were dictating the terms of engagement and looking in control.

Yet, by the finish of those matches against Waterford and Cork respectively, Galway had not alone found ways to retrieve the situation, but were also utterly dominant and have now set up a likely league final with Kilkenny as the counties’ paths are virtually certain to cross in the upcoming Leinster championship.

Though their comeback win over Waterford at Pearse Stadium the previous weekend was laudable, they had less time to reel in the Rebels at Pairc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday. In the space of 30 minutes, however, they managed to turn the game completely on its head in outscoring Cork by 3-13 to 0-10.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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

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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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Connacht Tribune

Donohue the driving force as Galway survive epic contest

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Galway's Aoife Donohue comes under pressure from Cork's Ellen Murphy during Sunday's National Camogie League semi-final at Nowlan Park. Photos: INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Galway 1-19

Kilkenny 1-17

(AET)

Eanna O’Reilly at Nowlan Park

THE Galway senior camogie team came through an epic extra-time battle with Cork to book their place in the National League final  after outlasting the Rebels at Nowlan Park on Sunday. On a scorching hot day in Kilkenny, Cathal Murray’s side showed tremendous resolve to edge out a battling Cork team, who matched the Tribeswomen score for score for most of the 83-minute contest.

A victory of this nature will surely stand to Murray’s charges in the long term, with Galway’s hunger, athleticism and fitness all thoroughly tested on Sunday evening. The character of the Galway players also shone through, particularly in the second period of extra-time, when they closed out the game while down to 14 players.

The amount of energy expended in Nowlan Park may not have been ideal with Sunday’s league final in mind, but in terms of squad morale and confidence, this victory was invaluable.

The exchanges were intense from the throw in. Cork’s Katrina Mackey opened the scoring inside the 20 seconds, before Carrie Dolan equalised with her first pointed free. The Clarinbridge forward was very sharp and landed a fine point two minutes later, after a good pass from Siobhán McGrath. Dolan soon put Galway 0-3 to 0-1 ahead, after pointing a free which she drew herself.

Cork replied with a point from Linda Collins before Galway were dealt an early injury blow. Orlaith McGrath was forced off with a dislocated shoulder and replaced by Catherine Finnerty. The Mountbellew forward soon got involved in the action, intercepting a loose ball in the Cork defence, before passing inside to Siobhán McGrath, who finished to the net. Cork replied with Orla Cronin pointing her first free of the afternoon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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