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Lynskey’s young squad defy the odds once again in terrific win

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Galway's Jack Coyne picks off a point in the first-half of Sunday's All-Ireland minor hurling final despite the best efforts of Tipperary's Darragh Peters. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Galway 4-13

Tipperary 1-16

WHEN Tipperary’s Stephen Quirke levelled Sunday’s All-Ireland minor final for the eighth time on 35 minutes, there was a sense that this could well become the third Croke Park appearance in succession in which this Galway team would feature in a nerve-shreddingly tight finale.

Within five astonishing minutes, though, Galway had shook the Premier County to their core, registering 2-2 without reply as goals from substitute Liam Forde, with his first touch, and Cianan Fahy propelled Jeffrey Lynskey’s well-drilled side towards a victory that will taste even more sweet given the fact that they were underdogs in all four of the games contested in 2015.

Yet now they stand proudly as the county’s tenth national minor champions, captain Seán Loftus accepting the Irish Press Cup on behalf of his jubilant team-mates, after a team performance that was laced with character, intensity, hard work, and, most importantly, clinical finishing when it was needed most.

Clarinbridge’s Evan Niland picked up the Man of the Match award and contributed handsomely as a full forward unafraid to take on his man and a dead ball expert. There were plenty of other heroes, though, with Shane Bannon and sweeper Loftus shining brightest amongst a disciplined defence, while Jack Coyne, Jack Grealish, Thomas Monaghan, and Brian Concannon all contributed handsomely.

Most importantly, though, this was a one-to-fifteen and beyond team effort in which everyone played a vital role. Lynskey and his backroom team of Shane Cusack, Gavin Keary, and John Commins have worked diligently to build a special team ethos within this group and the fruits of their labour were plain to see as pre-match favourites Tipperary were relentlessly hounded, pressurised, blocked, and hooked for the hour and more.

As the ensuing senior decider cruelly demonstrated, it is usually the side that can work harder for longer that will prevail in a closely matched encounter, and in this instance it was Galway who were able to sustain their energy levels and call on impact substitutes as Tipperary’s dual stars faded badly in the second half.

The opening half hour had been a cagey, tit-for-tat battle in which Galway had produced the rare moments of top quality hurling. Tipperary had their moments, but critically failed to convert goal chances that could really have sparked their attempt to win the county’s seventh minor title from eight final encounters with the Tribesmen.

Galway began sharply and had two well struck frees from Niland on the board in no time, Clarinbridge club-mates Niland and centre half back Ian O’Brien drawing the fouls. Despite Hawkeye ruling out Alan Tynan’s earlier effort, Tipperary then rattled off two quick scores from Lyndon Fairbrother and Tommy Nolan.

As an early sign of the Galway full-back line’s determination, Kilnadeema-Leitrim’s Ciarán Connor then won a race for possession with Fairbrother, before sending a clever ball up the sideline where Cianan Fahy batted back to Jack Coyne, who split the posts, albeit the umpires again were calling for Hawkeye to decide.

Coyne and Grealish were already leading by example at midfield, the Gort midfielder letting Tipp have nothing easy while Loftus was already stationed in a roving sweeper role. This left Brian McGrath the spare man at the other end and he held the centre back space he had been allotted to good effect.

Fairbrother popped over a free from the right sideline for Tipperary, but was wide soonafter with another. In the 13th minute, their target man Garry Ryan burst onto a breaking ball, galloped clear and drove a shot that appeared destined for the corner of the net before goalkeeper Darragh Gilligan’s outstretched hurl magnificently diverted the sliotar away for a ’65, which McGrath drove over.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Wootton weaves his magic in vital bonus point victory

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Connacht winger Alex Wootton breaches the Cardiff cover on his way to scoring a second try in Saturday's PRO14 encounter at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 32

Cardiff 17

Rob Murphy at the Sportsground

THE Cardiff players were strewn across the pitch, faces buried in the Sporstground soil. Alex Wootton had just made their lives a misery for a second time in a blistering five minute spell and a game that was very much within their grasp had suddenly disappeared off into the distance. That was the scene in first-half injury time on Saturday evening as Connacht cut loose with a burst of brilliance.

Wootton now has ten tries in 13 appearances, an astonishing return from his first season in the green of Connacht. Munster’s loss is very much Andy Friend’s gain it seems. It helps too that there’s a backline orchestrator in the shape of Jack Carty who is playing at the very top of his game with one all encompassing display after another in recent months. The Irish door isn’t opening, but he keeps on knocking away.

But back to those Cardiff defenders, they were crestfallen at half time and positively dejected by full time. For most of the contest their team seemed to be in the ascendency in terms of possession and territory, but Connacht held all the aces when it came to the level of additional quality needed to be a serious contender in this competition. There’s no shame in being second best but the Welsh regions do struggle with the concept.

The Connacht coach has injuries to concern him but nothing overwhelming, Tom Farrell is probably the first choice centre for example and he’s out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, Quinn Roux would start most big games but we learned this week a neck injury will keep him out until April, while Denis Buckley started this game on the bench. So this was pretty much a full strength side.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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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Galway keeping all options open for 2021 summer racing festival

John McIntyre

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A lone racegoer follows the action at last year's Galway Summer Racing Festival which was held behind closed doors at Ballybrit.

MICHAEL Moloney is a pragmatist. He’s not a hostage to pipedreams or fanciful thoughts ignoring reality. He doesn’t build up false hope and plays a straight bat.

The Galway Racecourse General Manager knows the odds are currently against punters flocking through the Ballybrit turnstiles for this summer’s annual seven-day racing festival, but he is not without hope that circumstances may change.

“As it stands, the only public health guidelines we are working off is that there will be no gatherings of over 50 people before September. That’s what the Tániste Leo Varadkar said a couple of weeks ago.”

That conclusion gives Galway little wriggle room at present, but with the 2021 festival still five months away – it starts on Monday, July 26 – local stakeholders are keeping their fingers crossed that the overall Covid-19 picture will be much better by then.

Whatever way the cards fall in relation to mass gatherings at sporting events by late summer, Moloney emphasises that Galway Racecourse will be ready to respond quickly to any improved scenario.

Ahead of last year’s festival, Moloney admitted that Galway was heading into the unknown with the meeting being staged behind closed doors and Ballybrit set to be devoid of the atmosphere it has become famous for.

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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Saddling up for a battle with cancer

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Susan Kennelly says wearing her cycling gear, like above in Salthill, and getting on her bike gives her a boost in her battle with cancer.

A city-based doctor has become the second person in the country to be named as a Bike Like Me advocate as part of a campaign by Cycling Ireland to inspire more women and girls to discover cycling and feel confident on their bikes.

Susan Kennelly (42), who lives in the city centre, is a member of Galway Bay Cycling Club and is the second of six Bike Like Me advocates to be announced as part of the campaign.

Currently battling breast cancer, she says she has found solace in being able to jump on her bike and take to the roads, saying that putting on her cycling helmet and cycling gear allowed her to feel the same as everyone else and boosted her morale in her own health battle.

“Particularly this year I really appreciated how normalising cycling could be. I had no hair because of chemo, no eyebrows or eyelashes and had lost weight but hopping on a bike with my helmet and cycling clothes meant I really looked no different to anyone else,” she says.

Why did you start cycling?

After stepping down from competitive rowing after several years I wanted something that would keep me physically active but without the same training commitment as rowing.

A friend suggested I join Galway Bay Cycling Club and I instantly knew this was right for me! I loved getting out in the open air and the sense of comradery and security with group cycling but at the same time I didn’t have to worry about letting a crew down if I couldn’t make a spin.

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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