Date Published: 25-May-2011
IT’S difficult to recollect a team being beaten to a pulp so badly in the first-half of a match and, somehow, still managing to drag themselves off the ropes to the extent that Leinster did in Saturday’s extraordinary Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium. Heroic hardly does justice to the efforts of Jonny Sexton and company in turning a pulsating showdown around. Their comeback has already achieved legendary status.
Down 22-6 at the break having been hammered in the scrum and rocked by Northampton’s physicality and intensity, Leinster really looked a beaten docket. Brian O’Driscoll was clearly struggling with the knee injury that had seen him a doubt all week as the English Premiership side crashed over for three tries from Phil Dowson, the superb Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley.
The Leinster players must have been in a state of shock heading to the dressing room at half-time as the overwhelming favourites had taken a pounding all over the park and were scarcely hanging on. Northampton had thrown caution to the wind in laying down their markers from the off. They went for broke and were rewarded with a 16 points interval advantage that nobody would have forecast before the match. To say the least, half-time came as a mercy to Leinster.
But it also gave the players and coaching staff time to regroup and refocus. Sexton wasn’t to know it then, but he was about to produce a magnificent second-half performance which was to turn to the game on its head. The Leinster out half had talked the talk during the interval, cajoling his team-mates into believing that match still hadn’t gone from them and that sport was littered with teams rising from the dead. He went on to admirably walk the walk when returning to the battleground.
Maybe, Northampton thought that the Heineken Cup was already theirs, but the Saints seemed ill-prepared for Leinster’s defiant response on the resumption. It was like watching two different matches between the same teams in the same venue . . . and all over the space of 80 fascinating minutes. Now, it was Northampton who were taking the battering as they conceded a whopping 27 points without reply.
All over the field, the Leinster players were showing what they were made of. Nobody had ever doubted their class or ability to produce champagne rugby, but the situation they found themselves in last Saturday demanded much more. The men in blue simply had to push themselves to the limit to retrieve the situation and also display the mental strength of champions in the most difficult of circumstances. They weren’t to be found wanting on either front against tiring opponents.
Players like Shane Horgan, Richard Strauss, Nathan Hines, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien began to take the game by the scruff of the next, but it was Sexton who was inspiring them. Two tries in the third quarter and immaculate goal kicking enabled the Leinster out half to make the match almost his own personal property. He looked a class apart as he accounted for all of Leinster’s scores bar Hines’ 64th minute try.
It was a magnificent victory for Leinster and the fact that their players had to roll up their sleeves and do it the hard way to rein in Northampton underlined that they have the necessary steel and resilience to back up their undoubted talent. Winning the Heineken Cup for the second time in three seasons confirms Leinster status as the best team in Europe and is also a massive to boost to Ireland’s World Cup prospects later in the year.
Naturally, there is no shortage of celebrations out West as Leinster’s triumph paves the way for Connacht to experience Heineken Cup rugby for the first time next season. Granted, the province would have preferred to have achieved that milestone on the field themselves but, given the manner in which Connacht have often been cold shouldered since the game went professional, they have no need to apologise.
For more, read this week’s Connacht 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.