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Local derbies all the rage

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Annaghdown's Damien Comer, pictured in action for Galway last Saturday, will be keen to deliver another big performance for his club against An Cheathru Rua in the county football championship this weekend.

LOCAL derbies are very much the norm this weekend as the second round of the Galway senior football championship swings into action.

While Corofin and Tuam Stars may be the pick, what adds a great deal of spice to proceedings is that, for the ten teams which lost their opening SFC games, this series of fixtures is last chance saloon in terms of their 2014 campaign.

In this respect, the derby clashes of Kilkerrin/Clonberne v Cortoon Shamrocks, Mountbellew/Moylough v Menlough, Carna Caiseal v Micheal Breathnach and, to a lesser extent, the meeting of Barna v Leitir Móir should hit fever pitch.

Indeed, with Barna man Bert Curran in charge of Leitir Móir and former Leitir Móir coach Sean Conlon now with Barna, the scene is set for what could also be, in effect, a relegation decider, given where these two teams are at currently.

In terms of a second round shock, the Salthill/Knocknacarra v Kilconly tie has potential while don’t discount St. Michael’s (v Killererin), Caltra (v Caherlistrane) and An Cheathrú Rua (v Annaghdown) also causing upsets of sorts.

Aside from the Corofin v Tuam Stars contest, the tie of the round has to be between arguably the two great pretenders, Milltown and St. James’ – a game that follows the meeting of Galway and Mayo in the Connacht minor semi-final at Tuam Stadium.

Indeed, a number of clubs expressed their disappointment that they had to field in the championship this weekend given they had players involved with the county’s U-18 squad, noting with emigration, students going abroad and injuries, it was putting extra pressure on their playing resources.

SATURDAY

Milltown v St. James’

(Tuam Stadium, 7:45pm)

It will be interesting to see what kind of response St. James’ duo Johnny Duane and Eoin Concannon will muster for the club following their well-publicised expulsion from the Galway senior set-up for disciplinary breaches. By all accounts, they are working hard. Duane (ankle) though is an injury concern as are Alan Deacy (ankle), Shane Coughlan (arm), Mark Kelly (knee) and Owen Teagle (ankle). David O’Connell has also been struggling with a virus.

Milltown and Galway forward James Kavanagh (hamstring) continues to be a major injury doubt and he is due to undergo another assessment with the inter-county set-up this week. While John Devane is still troubled by an ankle injury, on a more positive note, Diarmuid Blake (hamstring) and substitute John Hynes (ankle) both featured in the 0-13 to 0-3 victory over Menlough.

This is a game that definitely hinges on which players both sides have available and if Kavanagh fails to make it, one would imagine that would give St. James’ a slender advantage.

Verdict: St. James’.

Match odds: Milltown 4/5; draw 6/1; St. James’ 5/4.

 

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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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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