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Nicholson’s timely strike sees Milltown carry day

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Milltown's Cathal Blake gets the ball away against Salthill/Knocknacarra during Saturday's senior football championship quarter-final at Tuam Stadium. Photos: Enda Noone.

Milltown1-13

Salthill/Knocknacarra 0-15

MILLTOWN had to dig deep into their reserves of character and resolve to see off the challenge of Salthill-Knocknacarra at Tuam Stadium on Saturday evening, eventually ending up one point winners as Fergal Nicholson’s first half goal proved invaluable in this tightly fought senior football championship quarter final.

Nicholson’s strike came on the stroke of half time after the city side had reeled off four points on the trot, and a determined start to the second half meant that Milltown had turned a slight deficit into a five point advantage. Damien Brennan and Mark Hehir were key components in this surge, with Hehir providing the key pass to raiding defender Ciaran Blake to set up the goal.

Salthill-Knocknacarra rallied, though, and were back within one with under ten minutes to play as Seán Armstrong‘s influence grew once pulled out to centre half forward. Milltown calmly reeled off a couple of points to seemingly halt the charge, but again Salthill crafted two scores in a minute to leave them only a single point behind.

Despite being without star forward James Kavanagh, Milltown showed their depth of talent as substitute Tommy Wynne set up fellow replacement Seán Hehir for a vital score with a little over a minute to play, and although Salthill-Knocknacarra clawed one back deep into stoppage time, they just couldn’t force a leveller, and Milltown advance to face the holders Corofin in the last four.

One player who deserved this win more than anyone was the Milltown captain and full back Darren Mullahy. From early on, Salthill’s main attacking ploy was to find Seán Armstrong with long, raking deliveries. He had Mullahy in trouble in the opening quarter but the Milltown man stuck his guns, holding him to a solitary score from play, scored in the second minute.

Aside from his defensive duties, Mullahy burst forward into the opposition territory on at least three or four occasions, always taking the shortest, most direct route to goal. His 53rd minute foray led to fellow defender John Martin grabbing a vital score, and if Milltown are to dethrone the champions, then Mullahy will have to be in similarly inspiring form.

After the frantic finale of the opening game, this tie began at a more sedate pace, with the sides trading four scores in the opening ten minutes as Salthill peppered their full forward line with high balls. Armstrong kicked the first point and Seamie Crowe added their second, but two Mike Martin points levelled it up.

Crowe then kicked a free badly wide which seemed to knock his confidence – four further chances were missed – and he was withdrawn at half time with no obvious injury worries. Milltown then hit a purple patch and added three points in quick succession as Martin (free), Damien Brennan, and Seán Glynn all raised white flags.

Brian Conlon’s pace was obviously a worry for Milltown, and the Salthill corner forward almost goalled on 24 minutes but his well hit shot flew over the bar. Seán Armstrong then kicked two frees to level matters at 0-5 apiece, with midfielder Barry Kelly a central figure in most of the Seasider’s best work.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Big boost for Connacht as dozen make Irish squads

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Former Galway minor hurler Shane Jennings who is one of six Connacht players named on the Irish U20 rugby squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

By Rob Murphy

THERE was some off season good news for Connacht this week with confirmation of 12 players from the Sportsground having made it into international squads at senior and U-20 level.

Six Connacht players were called into Andy Farrell’s 37-man senior international squad for next month’s two tests against Japan and USA. Three of those are looking to make their international debut in Tom Daly, Paul Boyle and Caolin Blade; while three more are looking to continue their progress with the Irish squad in Dave Heffernan (5 caps), Ultan Dillane (18 caps) and Finlay Bealham (14 caps).

For Daly, the progress from fringe starter to captaining Connacht has been a rapid one. The 27-years-old inside centre from Carlow is now a key part of Andy Friend’s plans having led the way in starts this season and his consistent form has clearly caught the eye of Farrell too, with the recent stand-out effort in the win over Munster at Thomond Park no doubt a key factor.

At 24, Boyle has already amassed 57 appearances in the green of Connacht having made his debut in 2017. He also has captained Connacht on multiple occasions and while he missed some of the end of season Rainbow Cup games, the Gorey native was a consistent almost ever present part of the back row during the PRO14 campaign.

Monivea man Blade is back in Ireland camp for the second season in a row and will hope to get his first cap this time around. The 27-years-old is being rewarded for another excellent season in the nine shirt for Connacht where he led the team in starts at scrum half and scored five tries in 20 appearances.

Ireland will play two games in the Aviva Stadium next month starting with a clash against Japan on July 3 before they host USA on July 10.

The Irish U-20s will be involved in Six Nations action, starting tomorrow against Scotland with the month-long tournament taking place entirely in Cardiff to help guarantee a safe environment for players.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway surrender top flight status after Clones collapse

Stephen Glennon

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Galway’s Robert Finnerty who scored 1-3 in their costly National League relegation play-off defeat to Monaghan in Clones on Sunday.

Monaghan 1-21

Galway 2-17

(After Extra-Time)

NO thermometer was required to take the temperature of those hundred or so die-hard Galway supporters who travelled to Clones last Sunday. With their side five points to the good and time almost up, they watched on in horror as a winning lead was blown.

The result: Galway beaten. The result: Galway are no longer a Division 1 county. The result: Galway now have just won one game in their last seven competitive outings. The result: Galway have gone from a side on the brink of something in spring of 2020 to an outfit that has regressed and have now been cast back to the land of mediocrity.

That Galway boss Padraic Joyce didn’t make himself available to the media afterwards to put some positive spin on the performance only compounded the result. By not offering some take, he left a dangerous void in which disgruntled supporters have begun to weave their own narrative about where Joyce’s Galway are at.

Ironically, with time almost up in Clones, it appeared the Tribesmen had turned the corner after a poor run of form. First half goals from Paul Kelly and Rob Finnerty saw Galway lead this thrilling relegation game by five points going down the home stretch, but in the five minutes plus of normal time injury-time, they came undone.

In hindsight, hauling off Galway’s two best forwards – Robert Finnerty and Shane Walsh (although he was nowhere near his best) – was a mistake as it not only blunted the point of attack but deprived it of the guile and experience that they needed to see this game out.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway U20s set to make up for lost time in delayed final

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Conor Walsh who is a key member of the Galway U20 hurling team seeking Leinster final glory when they take on Dublin next Wednesday.

GALWAY’S U20 hurlers have a number of injury concerns ahead of their long overdue 2020 Leinster final clash against Dublin at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, next Wednesday evening, June 23. Throw-in 7:30pm.

Among them are Sarsfields midfielder Alex Connaire and Craughwell wing-forward Adrian Prendergast, both of whom scored in the Tribesmen’s victories over Laois and Kilkenny last December, but they now look set to miss the provincial decider with groin and pelvis injuries respectively.

“This game is just too early for them, it has just come too quick,” says Galway manager Jeffrey Lynskey, who says Connaire and Prendergast join an injury list that also includes long-term victims Mark Gill of Castlegar (metatarsal) and Conor Hynes of Liam Mellows (shoulder).

“We are lucky enough though that we have depth in the squad and can pull on lads who are performing and doing well (in training). They have trained well, in fairness to them, over the last five weeks.”

Indeed, Lynskey says the form is good in the camp, outlining the focus has been getting the players back up to speed with in-house and challenges games against the Galway development panel.

“In all the in-house and challenge games, they have performed really well. They are all looking forward to getting back. They have trained hard, really, over the last five weeks and they put a serious bloc of work in during the third lockdown. Gym-wise, they all came back in fantastic shape.

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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