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Magnificent Connacht leave French men out on their feet

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Connacht's Jake Heenan prepares to hand off Toulouse's Maxime Medard during the European Champions Cup clash at the Sportsground on Saturday evening. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 23

Toulouse 21

THE rusty form of September is in the rear view mirror and Connacht are clicking through the gears and powering forward. In a pulsating Saturday evening clash at a heaving and sold-out Sportsground, the Westerners came from ten points down in the second half to win a game that might have done more to redefine their status in European rugby than last May’s Pro12 triumph.

The third consecutive home win in as many weeks was a seismic one for sure but ironically, in hindsight, probably not the most significant of the three. Toulouse are a big powerful side with none of the finesse that we have come to admire over the last three decades of European competition whereas the Ulster side that came here last week offered a lot more of an all round game and were simply harder to beat. Yet this certainly was more significant.

Significant because here was the epitome of what is going wrong with Top 14 rugby. Bish, bash bosh is all we see from most French and English clubs these days. Their national teams aren’t much better and all the while the New Zealanders are pulling further and further away with a new brand of the game focused more and more on the skills. While Europe insists on picking big men and running hard straight lines, all of New Zealand laugh.

There have to be some limits in what Connacht can achieve as they shun the Northern Hemisphere trends and go the route of a high tempo attacking brand of rugby that sees all risks with ball in hand as opportunities to unearth space and unlock defences. Almost every side Connacht meet, knows what they are going to get, the days of underestimating Pat Lam’s men are done but that doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what is mesmerising.

If there is a bigger scrum in the Champions Cup than Toulouse this season, it will be a sight to see. The game was billed as big men versus fast runners and it lived up to it in every way. Yet by the end, the big men were out on their feet after failing to contain the electric Connacht backline and being out foxed by the home pack. It was a sight for sore eyes for sure.

You don’t want running rugby to always beat a forward orientated game. Rugby is about balance and there’s nothing wrong with going for power and set piece dominance as a route to victory. However, if that’s your only trick in the bag, then there is everything wrong with that approach and the biggest, most powerful side in European rugby lost to a team at the weekend with a fraction of their budget and nothing like their history. They got schooled in fact.

When Toulouse centre Florian Fritz kicked their third penalty on 13 minutes to add to two scores from Sebastien Bezy the signs weren’t good for Connacht. They had barely touched the ball, the penalties had all come from scrums and the prospect of any reprieve in that area seemed non existent. Yet besides that, Toulouse hadn’t offered any other attacking threat and were coughing up lineouts for fun.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Horgan in the history books

Keith Kelly

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DARYL HORGAN

DARYL Horgan became the first Galwegian to score a senior men’s international goal when grabbing the fourth goal for the Republic of Ireland in their 4-1 friendly win over Andorra last Thursday.

Horgan, introduced as a 66th minute substitute for Ronan Curtis, got on the end of Jason Knight’s 89th minute cross to stoop low and send a diving header into the back of the net to cap a brilliant 26-minute cameo for the winger in what was his 13th senior international appearance.

The Knocknacarra native had just five minutes earlier sent in the cross from which Knight made it 3-1 to sighs of relief in the Irish camp – they had fallen 1-0 behind after 52 minutes, before a brace of goals from Troy Parrott in the 58th and 61st minutes put the Boys in Green in front and spared Stephen Kenny’s side the embarrassment of losing to a ski resort.

Horgan is one of seven Galwegians to win a senior men’s international cap – David Forde (24 caps), Alan Lee (10), Aaron Connolly (6), Greg Cunningham (4), Ryan Manning (4), and the late Eamonn ‘Chick’ Deacy (4) are the others – but he is the first to find the back of the opposition net.

He was joined from the bench last Thursday by Manning, and both players also started on the bench in Budapest on Tuesday night in the scoreless draw with Hungary, with both again being introduced in the second-half, Horgan in the 56th minute to win his 14th cap, followed by Manning in the 85th minute to win his fourth cap.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway WFC bring an end to their away woes in Cork

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Chloe Moloney who was one of Galway WFC's goal scorers in their away win over Cork WFC at Turners Cross on Saturday.

Cork City WFC 0

Galway WFC  2

By Mike Rafferty

AFTER firing blanks in their three previous away games, Galway WFC got back to winning ways when aided by two opening half goals and a first clean sheet of the season, they were worthy winners of this Women’s National League contest at Turners Cross on Saturday.

Two early headed goals by Chloe Moloney and Aoife Thompson gave them a cushion that was seldom threatened as the home side were outmaneuvered as new Galway WFC manager Stephen Lally picked up the first win of his reign.

As in previous games, the visitors were without some of their more established names, but the performances of Ruth Fahy, Lucia Lobato and Thompson helped turn an impressive performance into a worthy win. Cork goalkeeper Abby McCarthy was by far the busier of the two custodians and some good shot stopping in the early exchanges kept her side in the game.

However, there was little she could do when Galway WFC took the lead on 21 minutes, Chloe Moloney attacking a Shauna Brennan corner in a crowded box and powerfully heading home for a 1-0 advantage.

Just three minutes later, they added a second and again Brennan was at the heart of it when seeing off a challenge on the right flank, before delivering a deep cross that was powered into the bottom corner by the flying Thompson with a diving header.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht soar in final game to clip the wings of Ospreys

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Connacht’s Ben O’Donnell, who has Ultan Dillane in support, is tackled by Rhys Webb of the Ospreys during Friday's Rainbow Cup tie at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 26

Ospreys 19

Rob Murphy at the Sportsground

THE Connacht team finished Friday’s final game of the season with a flurry of fierce and well timed tackles as they held off the Ospreys and secured the win. While they did that, the Fields of Athenry bellowed from the Clan Terrace creating a surreal, almost absurd atmosphere at a near empty Sportsground. The roar that followed from the handful of souls in the stands was an appropriate end to a strange season like no other.

The singing and the shouting had come from the non selected players who had all gathered in a corner of the terrace for the game, making sure that there was no doubt for those out on the field that the game and the result meant something. Overall of course, this result is just a mark on the ledger, a soon to be forgotten triumph in a season that included far too many defeats at their Galway venue.

If all that wasn’t strange enough, all the scoring happened in the first half. Connacht notched four tries, the Ospreys managed three yet it was the second half that proved to be the most compelling and captivating as the visitors from Wales came up against a brick wall. Connacht’s tackling was superb while their maul defence proved to be critical. The visitors had arrived needing and expecting to get a bonus point win to stay in contention for a place in the Rainbow Cup final, but would leave shell shocked.

The Rainbow Cup as a competition has predictably turned out to be a disaster for the PRO14 organisers. While there has been some misfortune with late season postponements because of Covid and the South African sides have been limited on travel, the format of a straight league with teams playing six fixtures was never going to inspire enthusiasm or create a fair and balanced tournament. As it stands, Benetton might get to the final without having to play any of the top six sides.

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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