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Mountbellew/Moylough have the scope to really test county champions

Francis Farragher

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Corofin's Micheal Lundy and Mountbellew/Moylough's Barry McHugh in action during last year's senior football quarter-final between Sunday's county finalist.

ACCORDING to the bookies it’s a foregone conclusion  . . . Corofin at 1/4 will romp their way to a first ever three-in-a-row of senior county titles . . . but out in the long grass a suspicion lurks that this could be a far tighter contest than the money men suggest.

Corofin are All-Ireland champions – and worthy ones too – but it can be hard to keep an edge on the hook after a lot of corn has been cut, and Stephen Rochford’s men have looked vulnerable at times this season.

Despite the near misses, most notably in their two quarter-final clashes with Tuam Stars, Corofin though have survived the scares and when it comes to final day in Tuam Stadium on Sunday (3pm) they bring with them a wealth of experience and composure.

Mountbellew-Moylough’s task – whilst formidable – is not without hope. Six years ago, they lost a county final to Corofin after a replay, and last year they were one of the few sides not to be obliterated by the men in yellow.

Victories over St. James’, Killanin, Annaghdown and Salthill-Knocknacarra in the county semi-final have undoubtedly moved them into the second best team in the county slot . . . to go that final mile is now their big target.

Beating Corofin is a bit like trying to overcome Kilkenny in an All-Ireland hurling final – the pretenders to the throne probably need to be four or five points a better team to win by one. Recurring champions are that for a reason.

This year’s championship though has been no sprint for Corofin. In the earlier rounds they had only three points to spare against Salthill, two when taking on Micheál Breathnach and then a stalemate against Tuam Stars.

For those closing minutes of that drawn game against Tuam Stars, the Corofin players saw the end in sight but a late Gary Sice point saved the day for them, and they came through the replay with four points to spare.

A 2-11 to 0-7 semi-final win over Cortoon in the semi-final might, on a scoreline analysis, indicate a return to their blitz form of last year, but in truth their opponents had a complete off day and made things easy for the county champions.

A few things must click into place if Mountbellew-Moylough are to entertain serious hopes of pulling off an upset. Early on they will need to stick to a pretty tight defensive plan with a bit of extra cover pulled back; they will want to get an even break around midfield and their lively attack will want to introduce that little extra level of composure that they lacked against Salthill.

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

Connacht Tribune

Mulkerrins adopts a pragmatic stand as finals off

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Moycullen's Martin Mulkerrins on his way to winning the All-Ireland 60x30 senior softball title in July of 2019.

By Ivan Smyth

NATIONAL champion Martin Mulkerrins isn’t shocked that the World Handball Championships due to take place in Dublin later this year have been cancelled.

“To be honest I wasn’t surprised when I heard the news. It is understandable and in the current climate there is uncertainty over where the country will be in a few months.”

The World Championships take place every three years with Mulkerrins reaching the final of the 40×20 event in 2018, eventually losing out to Killian Carroll in the decider.

“I was excited for it this year with the last two World Championships not being in Ireland. I love travelling so with the 2018 Worlds taking place in Minnesota and Canada hosting it in 2015, I had the opportunity to travel and play.”

“I think every handballer was looking forward to playing in the new National Handball Centre in Croke Park, but I’m sure the powers that be are working on alternative arrangements when it’s safe to play.”

“It’s still promising to see that facility being built and shows that things are looking up for the sport despite not much action on the courts recently.”

The handball season is split into three main codes – 40×20, 60×30 and One-Wall (recently rebranded as wallball). In terms of coverage and crowds, the 40×20 Championships are the brand leader.

Last year the coronavirus pandemic caused the handball calendar to be turned upside down with the Moycullen man still waiting to play the 2020 All-Ireland 40×20 senior singles final against Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy.

That final was initially due to be played on March 21 of last year but handball alleys across the land were forced to shut down the week beforehand due to the coronavirus. When action resumed, GAA Handball opted to play the 60×30 Championships from the beginning instead of concluding the 40×20 Championships.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Basketball’s uncertain times as ban on indoor sports takes toll

Keith Kelly

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Maree BC's U-14 squad were presented with the cup and their medals just before Christmas by former Maree player and Irish international Michelle Fahy, for winning the 2019/20 Galway league. Back row, from left: Michelle Fahy with Grace McAnespie, Kate Burke, Ella Hanniffy, Laoise Quinn, Aisling Jordan, and Katie Colleran. Front: Laoise Gallagher, Tara Molloy, Naoise Ni Bhroin, and Jessica Ross.

By Keith Kelly

THE treatment of basketball as something of a forgotten sport, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, could see the game lose a generation of players as, by the time collective training is allowed, children may have been up to 18 months without involvement in the sport.

While all sport has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic, the failure to bestow ‘elite’ status to the basketball’s national league clubs – which provide the bulk of the country’s international players – along with the seemingly more-stringent application of restrictions to the local game compared to other sports, has led to fears locally that the sport may suffer a setback which will take years from which to recover.

While the main GAA, rugby, and soccer seasons were allowed resume during the summer after being designated as ‘elite sports’, the failure to include basketball in that category disappointed many associated with the game.

Then, when children were allowed to do some form of training with their various sports clubs under level 3 of lockdown, restrictions appeared to be stricter for basketball than other sports: for example, children were not allowed to pass the ball to each other as it was deemed to be sharing equipment, a constraint which did not seem to be applied to other sports.

When asked about children effectively not being able to train or play games in the sport since March, head coach of Moycullen’s Super League men’s squad, John Cunningham, said that from a basketball point of view, that has been a “disaster”.

“At least our Superleague guys got a pre-season of 6-8 weeks collective activity but underage are currently 10 months without anything other than watching online videos. It’s possible that will stretch to next September which is 18 months without group training.

“In the meantime, they’ve had their soccer, GAA and rugby sessions continuing. There will definitely be some who will never return to basketball (or maybe never start). For those that basketball was ‘their sport’, they’ve lost a social outlet which may have been their only one,” Cunningham said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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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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Connacht Tribune

Passionate Divilly is ready to help Galway reach next level

Stephen Glennon

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Galway senior football coach John Divilly in action against Kildare's Willie McCreery during the 1998 All-Ireland football final at Croke Park.

ALTHOUGH there has been some movement in the Galway senior football set-up over the last month – most notably the return of talented Moycullen offensive midfielder Peter Cooke from the United States – selector John Divilly says that the squad is far from finalised.

In recent weeks, there has been plenty of comings and goings in the Galway squad. The long-serving Gareth Bradshaw, after 14 years involved, announced his retirement while Corofin’s Gary Sice, who briefly came out of retirement post lockdown, also hung up his inter-county boots once more.

In addition, Adrian Varley, Fiontáin Ó Curraoin, John Maher and Corofin duo Jason Leonard and former All-Star Ian Burke have not committed to Galway for 2021 for various reasons. “It just wasn’t for them this year and that’s it,” says Divilly, who lined out at centre-half back in Galway’s memorable All-Ireland triumph in 1998. “You have to respect their decision.

“It is unfortunate that these guys have chosen not to come in this year, but best of luck to them in their future careers. You never know, they might come back into the Galway fold again some time down the line, but for now it creates opportunities for new players.”

Divilly says that once inter-county squads are permitted to return to the training grounds, they will run the rule over a few players who have either shown potential with their clubs or with the Galway U20 side that defeated Dublin to win the All-Ireland title last December.

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.

Continue Reading

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