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Mixed bag from Connacht in pulling off a bonus point win

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Connacht scrum half Kieran Marmion diving over for a try in their Guinness Pro12 victory over Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground on Saturday evening. photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 36

Cardiff Blues 31

THE dust has well settled from Saturday’s bonus point home win over the Cardiff Blues and the positive vibes have certainly lingered longer. It was a mixed bag of a game at a sunny Sportsground, but the bare bones don’t read too badly for Pat Lam and his crew.

Connacht scored five tries to secure just a fourth win in 22 attempts against their bogey side from the Welsh capital. In doing so the westerners moved into fourth place in the table just one point behind the three joint leaders, Llanelli, Munster and Edinburgh. That’s a solid start.

The frustrations remain, however. The Glasgow defeat hasn’t yet been etched from the mind, the Scottish side were very much there for the taking and in this game in Galway on Saturday, right at the very end they conceded a fourth try to the Blues which secured the visitors two bonus points from the game.

It made for a very anti-climactic conclusion as everyone at College Road knew that such a score could be crucial come the end of the season. The Blues will be one of Connacht’s main rivals for a top six spot this year.

It bares repeating ad nauseum that this is the time for Connacht to make hay. The fixtures have fallen well for them, lots of home games and games against last year’s bottom six during a World Cup period where only a handful of squads aren’t decimated.

The Irish provinces, Glasgow, the Ospreys and the Italian sides are worst affected, but teams like Cardiff are not exactly at full strength. Eight players were unavailable at the weekend. Gethin Jenkins, Sam Warburton, Lloyd Williams, Cory Allen, Alex Cuthbert (all Wales), Rey Lee-Lo (Samoa); Cameron Dolan and Blaine Scully (both USA)

At the start, the hosts seemed at ease. Piling on the pressure and pinning the Blues back, but this was a game with plenty of momentum swings. The first try came from a loose Tom McCartney pass on the Cardiff 22 that went straight to an alert Aled Summerhill who ran the length of the field.

Connacht responded well and went on a run of 19 points in the next 20 minutes to take complete control of the game. Kieran Marmion darted through a huge hole at the breakdown ten metres out for an easy score. Nepia Fox Matamua scored at the back of a maul and Danie Poolman brilliantly finished off a flowing move in the corner after some great work from Bundee Aki and Rory Parata.

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

Connacht Tribune

Familiar foes are set for intriguing senior decider

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Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s Claire Dunleavey and Claregalway's Charlotte Cooney in action during the 2019 Galway senior ladies football final in Milltown. The clubs meet in the decider for the third consecutive year on Saturday.

By Ivan Smyth

IT will be a case of familiar foes meeting when Kilkerrin/Clonberne and Claregalway square off in the county final in Annaghdown on Saturday (4pm). Willie Ward’s all conquering Kilkerrin/Clonberne side will be aiming to win their ninth county title in a row, but they come up against a Claregalway outfit who drew with them in the group stages of this year’s championship.

The sides will meet in the county final for the third year running and the fifth time in seven years. Last year’s decider ended in a nine point win for Kilkerrin/Clonberne, although the victory margin slightly flattered the champions. Claregalway manager Eugene Kearney is aware of the difficult task his side faces when they come up against this all conquering Kilkerrin/Clonberne outfit.

“We are well used to the opposition and we are looking forward to taking them on. We have a huge task ahead of us. We are under no illusions to the size of the task we face. In terms of preparation, we have tried to improve ourselves in the year since. We are just focused on our own dressing room and our own players. We are trying to improve the mindset and show we can achieve with Kilkerrin/Clonberne have.”

Kearney’s charges will be monitoring the fitness of Ciara Burke who is suffering with a hamstring issue. His side have impressed in this year’s competition remaining unbeaten, while drawing with Saturday’s opponents in the group stage. They ruthlessly put Corofin to the sword in the last four, prevailing by 5-17 to 2-5.

“If you stand still you are going backwards so that’s why we aren’t going through the motions in any game. We’ve had a full squad since the Coen Cup finished up so we have been able to work together and improve game by game. We are under no illusions to the size of the task. I’m quietly confident in this squad’s ability, but it will all come down to who is better on the day.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Craughwell make short work of an outclassed Kilnadeema/Leitrim

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Kilnadeema/Leitrim's Adam Nolan launching an attack against Craughwell's Stephen Hynes during Sunday's senior hurling quarter-final at Duggan Park. Photo: Joe Keane.

Craughwell     0-27

Kilnadeema/Leitrim    0-9

Darren Kelly at Duggan Park

IT won’t have anything to do with the Galway hurling manager’s position, but Brian Hanley must have been one of the happiest hurling supremos around last weekend following this impressive statement from his Craughwell contingent on Sunday afternoon.

While Davy Fitzgerald and Henry Shefflin filled column inches about inter county roles, Hanley showcased his managerial worth with Craughwell’s return to senior hurling title contention, and still having areas that need to work on.

No doubt, the lack of goals might trouble the 2015 finalists and they were handed numerous chances. But it also must be stated that Kilnadeema/Leitrim’s energy was well down on their shock elimination of Turloughmore seven days earlier.

Craughwell returned to Senior A in 2020 before falling at the preliminary quarter-final hurdle. And despite not being fancied by some to emerge from a group containing Turloughmore and Castlegar this term, they advanced unbeaten without showing their full hand.

And they set the tone for this encounter just two minutes into proceedings. Thomas Monaghan opened the scoring before Adam Clarke added a second 60 seconds later.

Clarke’s reputation is rising rapidly in Craughwell and he was the star of the first half. He made it 0-3 to 0-0 on six minutes before Brian Molloy got Kilnadeema/Leitrim off the mark.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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.

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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

St Thomas’ in different class on difficult day for Kilconieron

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St Thomas' Conor Cooney securing possession against Niall Martin of Kilconieron during Sunday's senior hurling quarter-final at Duggan Park. Photos: Joe Keane.

St. Thomas’ 3-29

Kilconieron 1-9

Darren Kelly at Duggan Park

IT took the county champions time to get going, but St. Thomas’ stunning performance in ruthlessly dismissing the challenge of Kilconieron showed that they are still the team to beat in the senior hurling championship.

The four-in-a-row chasing title holders rifled in goals from Conor Cooney, Darragh Burke and Eanna Burke to give a master class, and highlight the difference between contesting Galway’s top tier prizes and picking up intermediate glory.

But before all that, we saw the unity in sport as a free flowing senior hurling championship quarter-final was halted in its tracks.  A nasty injury to Kilconieron corner back Martin Ryan raised alarm bells immediately – even St. Thomas’ players called for help as attention diverted from hurling.

For over 15 minutes, supporters waited for the ambulance to arrive and bring the defender for attention. His team mates gave him a guard of honour – a freak fall ending his afternoon and season. Everyone, including his opponents, clapped him off the field.

It’s hard to know how this contest would have developed if it hadn’t suddenly stopped. Kilconieron led 1-3 to 0-1 after four minutes with David Mangan getting their goal, but St. Thomas’ were already finding their rhythm and didn’t look back when play reconvened on 27 minutes.

Many pundits felt this was the most clear-cut of the weekend’s four quarter-final encounters to predict, but Kilconieron were determined to keep everyone guessing as they opened the scoring inside 40 seconds thanks to Conor Caulfield raiding down the right.

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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