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Moloney leaves behind lasting legacy as Galway track boss

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Galway course foreman, Gerry Broderick, with incoming General Manager, Michael Moloney and General Manager, John Moloney, looking ahead to next week’s summer festival. PHOTO: IAIN McDonald.

IT’S been his stomping ground for over 27 years and during that time he has been the chief driving force in turning Galway Racecourse into one of the best equipped sporting venues in the country.

On the eve of his last summer festival in charge, John Moloney’s vision and relentless quest to keep improving the facilities at Ballybrit ensures his legacy as manager of the Galway track will stand the test of time.

When the curtain comes down on the most popular fixture on the Irish racing calendar on Sunday week, he will walk through the gates at Ballybrit for the last time as the man who pulled all the different strands together.

But the Moloney template for keeping the Galway Races to the forefront of the Irish sporting consciousness is set to continue through his son Michael, who will now take over as General Manager after departing a similar role at Plumpton in the UK.

A native of Knocklong in Co. Limerick, Moloney arrived in Galway in the late spring of 1989. The summer festival was long since established as one of Ireland’s great sporting occasions, but he has taken the week-long meeting to a new level in conjunction with a progressive local racecourse committee during his near three decades at the helm.

In terms of infrastructure alone, Galway racecourse is simply unrecognisable from its appearance in the late eighties. Under Moloney’s tenure, two new Grandstands, the Millennium (1999) and the Killanin (2006) have been built, together with a new amenity building (1994) embracing the Owners & Trainers Bar, a modern catering facility, and an upgrade of the Race Committee’s own amenities.

On top of that, a new development beside the parade ring in 2004 saw the provision of a modern weigh room, media centre, jockeys’ room and offices, while a traffic underpass to improve access to the racecourse was opened in 2001.

Subsequently, the green light was given for a pedestrian tunnel, while the Mayor’s Garden at the West end of the enclosures was also extended. Significant improvements to the track itself have been ongoing with extensive draining work carried out in recent years.

In total, Moloney estimates that over €50m has been spent in upgrading Galway during his time as manager and he praises the Race Committee for their forward planning and energy. “Everything we did was a team decision and we were always looking to upgrade our facilities and the track.”

Given the huge volume of racegoers who descend on Ballybrit every summer, regularly topping 150,000, Moloney also derives significant satisfaction from their successful traffic management plan which has helped eased congestion to and from the racecourse. On Ladies Day in 2005, a record crowd of 52,000 came through the gates.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Ruthless Utd knock seven bells out of hapless hosts

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Galway United’s leading marksman Stephen Walsh who scored twice in their seven-nil rout of Bluebell United in the FAI Cup on Sunday.

Bluebell United 0

Galway United 7

Keith Kelly at Tolka Park

GALWAY United not only avoided a potential FAI Cup shock, they did so in record-breaking fashion on Sunday when breezing past the challenge of Leinster Senior League side, Bluebell United, in glorious sunshine in Tolka Park.

The victory was United’s biggest-ever in an FAI Cup tie – they did stick eight without reply past Salthill Devon in the group stages of the League Cup in the 1994/95 season – and was also the biggest win by a First Division side in an FAI Cup tie since the second tier of the league was introduced in 1985/96.

No-one will get carried away with a win over a non-league outfit, but considering previous United iterations had struggled against a similar level of opposition – they needed penalties to see off the mighty Killester United in 2017, and fumbled to a 2-1 win over Collinstown two years later – this ruthless annihilation of their hosts shows a very different mindset in the 2022 United model.

A Stephen Walsh double in the space of 90 seconds in the late stages of the first-half meant the tie was over by half-time, though in truth, it was a 190-second spell much earlier in the game which dictated just how the afternoon would finish.

United made three changes to the side which had beaten Athlone Town 3-1 in the league the previous week, including handing a debut to new signing, Bastien Hery, after his midweek loan move from Finn Harps that saw Gary Boylan go in the opposite direction.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Thumbs up from Moloney as Galway is back in the groove

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Julianne Devine presents the winning trophy to Basil Holian, Athenry, after Soaring Monarch had won the Rockshore Handicap at Ballybrit. Also included are, Pamela and Bernie Holian, with Ber and Peter Fahey, trainer.

IT would have been easy to have got carried away on the wave of expectancy. With advance ticket sales strong and corporate hospitality booked out for the opening six days, it fuelled loose talk about huge numbers descending on the Galway Summer Racing Festival.

We even heard a couple of suggestions that Ballybrit wouldn’t be able to hold the crowds such was the anticipated pent-up desire to attend the popular festival after the Covid-hit meetings of 2020 – held behind closed doors – and last year when daily attendances were restricted to 1,000.

But Chief Executive of Galway Racecourse, Michael Moloney, had been guarded in his pre-festival expectations about the numbers which would end up heading west for one of Irish sport’s most iconic occasions.

Between the current cost of living pressures, the festival coming in the wake of a hectic period for Galway GAA teams, and high accommodation and fuel prices, Moloney knew the meeting would struggle to reach the total attendance of nearly 130,000 of the previous pre-pandemic fixture of 2019.

It was no reflection on what Galway had to offer, more a case of many people forced to be more selective about the number days they would attend Ballybrit due to their own financial considerations and priorities.

Galway Racecourse had run an energetic and innovative social medial campaign promoting the festival, while these who made it to Ballybrit last week had to be impressed by the increased covered areas and extra catering facilities around the enclosure.

Ultimately, over the seven days of the festival, there was an attendance drop of almost 10% from the last comparable meeting of three years ago. The total crowd was 116,720 which represented a decline of 12,338 spectators spread over the seven days.

That figure would have been lower only for the Friday evening and Saturday cards being hit by adverse weather, but the festival finished on a high with the Sunday crowd of 13,040 a significant jump on the 2019 figure of 9,998.

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

Thousands to take part in 8k Streets of Galway race

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The 36th edition of the Blackrock Health Galway Clinic sponsored Streets of Galway 8km, organised by Galway City Harriers, takes place tomorrow (Saturday), with the race set to start at 7pm.

With the race returning to its traditional Saturday evening slot, huge crowds are expected to turn out to support the huge field who will race, with close on 3,000 athletes expected to race the famous route through the city streets.

The 8km returns to its 2019 route around the city, with race start at GTI on Fr Griffin Road, with the finish in South Park. The race routes over Wolfe Tone Bridge, Merchants Road, Eyre Square, Eglinton Street, over the Salmon Weir Bridge, and loops around the Cathedral and onto University Road, before turning left at the Hospital for a run along St Marys Road, Lower Salthill and into Devon Park, Devon Gardens and onto Dr Mannix Road.

A water stop at 5km is at Pearse Stadium, with the turn for home at Leisureland, seeing a fast stretch along Seapoint, Dr Colohan Road and the final kilometre on Grattan Road with the finish in the gates of South Park.

Race number collection will be at the Claddagh Hall, beside South Park from 3pm today (Friday) with limited registration on the day in person; and tomorrow from 10am to 5pm.

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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