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O’Brien does the trick again with one of yard’s veterans

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Zoe Fitzgerald presents the winning trophy to Ronagh O'Brien after Valours Minion won the Renvyle House Hotel Handicap Steeplechase at the October meeting at the Galway Races. Also in photo are, Val O'Brien, trainer, Gary O'Brien, Barbara O'Brien, Seán O'Brien and Niall O'Brien.

VAL O’Brien has a proven track record when it comes to defying the odds with older horses and the Athenry handler underlined his unique ability to successfully prolong the careers of his veterans at Ballybrit last Sunday.

Having turned out Final Tub to win at the ripe old age of 15 and managing the same feat with Half Barrell when 14, O’Brien will see nothing exceptional in saddling the 11-year-old Valours Minion to land the Renvyle House Hotel Handicap Chase on the first day of the Galway October meeting.

But when you consider that Valours Minion only made his racecourse debut as a seven-year-old and was still seeking a first win up to late summer in 2014, O’Brien has really worked miracles with the old-timer in the interim.

After finally getting off the mark in a handicap chase at Killarney last August, Valours Minion went on to win over hurdles at the Galway September meeting before also coming up trumps in another handicap chase at Listowel later that month.

Owned by Val’s brother Sean, Valours Minion continued his startling progress at an age when most horses are heading into decline with his fourth win in less than three months at Galway on Sunday . . . and, amazingly, it was the easiest of them all.

Partnered again by Mark Enright, the 9/2 chance was always travelling smoothly behind pacesetter Whiskey Galore with his sound jumping an obvious advantage in a race in which O’Brien’s neighbour, Martin Cullinane, was bidding to repeat last year’s win with Georgie.

Valours Minion could be called the winner at the bottom of the straight and once Enright asked his in-form mount to push clear inside the final 150 yards, the issue was settled in a matter of strides with Whiskey Galore and Georgie completing the placings.

“He’s really come to himself this year. He also seems to like it around it here and once the ground didn’t go heavy, I knew he had a chance. Naas in a fortnight’s time will probably be it for the season as the ground will probably be gone against him after that,” said O’Brien.

Later on the card, punters saw a most impressive performance from the Dermot Weld’s high class bumper horse, Windsor Park, which turned the www.swordssecurity amateur into a procession, while Peter Fahy’s Bay of Freedom sprung a surprise by easily beating odds on market leader Captain Von Trappe in the concluding T.V. O’Brien Memorial Bumper.

The big Gigginstown Stud operation enjoyed better fortunes with an even stronger favourite, All Hell Let Loose, which romped home at 3/10 in the opening Corrib Oil Maiden Hurdle, but there was a minor upset in the Sanserv Novice Chase with Jim Dreaper’s Cavita Beta rallying to edge out Mister Hotelier after market leader, Un Beau Roman, came to grief at the second last.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Bragging rights go to NUIG Maree on opening weekend

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NUIG Maree's Eoin Rockall jumps to shoot as Grant Olsson of Moycullen tries to block in the Super League meeting between the sides in NUIG last Saturday. Photo: Ed Shiel.

NUIG Maree made it four straight wins over local rivals Moycullen in the Men’s Super League to get their 2021/22 campaign off to a winning start in the Kingfisher Gym last Saturday.

A tense game between two nervous-looking sides went the way of Charlie Crowley’s charges, though both sides will know there is plenty of scope for improvement in the weeks ahead.

NUIOG Mystics also made a winning start to their season, blowing away the challenge of the Marble City Hawks down in Kilkenny, and with a side featuring seven players who featured for Maree in the Women’s Super League two season ago, in addition to two string US imports, Paul O’Brien’s side could be dark horses for league honours this season.

Titans mase a welcome return to the national league on Saturday but their trip to league newcomers, Drogheda Wolves, ended in defeat, though jack Considine’s already young squad was hit by a raft of injuries ahead of the game, though taking a long-term view, the club is handing a lot of young players valuable league experience, which can only benefit Titans in the years ahead.

Maree  70

Moycullen 68

Super League basketball fans got a scintillating return to action Saturday night in NUI Galway as Moycullen and Maree played out a nail biter, with Maree scraping by as winners 70 to 68. writes Cian Nihill.

After an enthralling back and forth encounter, the local derby and season opener came down to the final minutes when six straight Grant Olsson points for Moycullen had the nominal visitors trailing by one with 24 seconds left and possession.

It would be Olsson again who took on the responsibility and, having dragged his side to within touching distance of the win, had to endure the heartache of seeing his 3-point attempt narrowly miss.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hibs get off the mark with derby win over Rangers

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Mervue United goalkeeper Daire Geraghty gets his clearance away despite the challenge of Loughrea's Kieran Bane in Mervue's 5-2 league win over their visitors in Fahy's Field last weekend. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

Recent seasons have proved to be somewhat of a struggle for Hibernians, but despite regular positioning in the lower regions of the Premier Division, they have always survived and in the current campaign with four teams to be relegated from the 12-team league, matters look like they will be very competitive for a number of teams to avoid the drop.

Just about six weeks into the new season, just four points separate the nine teams outside the top three and indeed just one point separates the bottom seven sides.

The action is competitive and indeed three of those lower positioned teams fashioned a first league win of the campaign over the weekend, with Hibernians the most impressive with a 5-0 success over Corrib Rangers.

Dean Cullinane, Shane Walsh, Jason McPhilbin, Jason McDonagh (pen) and Alex Murphy with his first senior goal all found the range for the Bohermore side on Sunday morning.

Maree/Oranmore were also convincing winners with a 3-0 away success over Tuam Celtic as Luke Smyth, Andrew Connolly and Pricewell Diala all found the range for the visitors.

Kerill Hardiman and Ryan Noone got the goals as Colemanstown United also fashioned a first win with a 2-1 success over a Corrib Celtic side for whom Shane Concannon got their lone reply.

Even at this early stage of the season, the challenge for Premier Division title looks to lie between three sides as Mervue United, Athenry and Salthill Devon appear to be the likely contenders.

Mervue United were making it five wins on the trot as they maintained their top position with a 5-2 win over Loughrea at Fahy’s Field. As ever, leading scorer Enda Curran found the range with a brace, as Jonathan Hannifin, Hakeem Ryan and Aaron Molloy also hit the target in a convincing success. Kieran Bane was on the mark with both goals for the visitors.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Aki returns for daunting trip to Thomond Park

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Connacht’s Matthew Burke braces for a tackle from Aaron Wainright of the Dragons in last weekend's game in the Sportsground.

BY JOHN FALLON

The return of Bundee Aki will give Connacht a badly needed boost after their collapse against Dragons last weekend as they face into two crucial derby clashes against Munster this Saturday in Thomond Park (7.35pm)and then against Ulster in Aviva Stadium on Saturday week, October 23 (5.15pm)

Aki is set to become the first British and Irish Lion to play for Connacht in the professional era and Peter Wilkins, who has moved to a more senior role as well as taking charge of attack, said that Aki is gunning for action.

“The way we are playing gives him that little bit more freedom to express himself, and also for him to feed off the opportunity of other attackers around him. I think the way we are playing will suit him. He’s enjoying training and the details that goes into that. It’s enormously exciting for him and it’s great for us.

“Bundee’s specific role over the past few weeks was to get up to speed with the way we are trying to play in attack and defence. Obviously, there are way more changes to the way we are attacking so it has been him getting up to speed with that.

“There have been different avenues to that, there has been work off-field, one-on-one meetings with us as coaches, obviously he has had catch-ups with the players, with the leadership groups and he has been able to be on the grass at training in the past few weeks, observing, and then training with the group. So he has had a really nice layer of introductions to what we are trying to do.

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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