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

John McIntyre

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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

Murtagh and Keogh edge closer to fulfilling their Olympic dreams

John McIntyre

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The Irish women's four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh winning their heat at the European Rowing Championships in Italy last Friday.

AS the crow flies, Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh were reared on the west wing of Galway city about six miles from each other.

Due to a three-year gap in their ages, their club and university rowing careers didn’t overlap, but now the Galway pair are an integral part of an Irish Women’s Four which is on the brink of qualification for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Murtagh from Moycullen and Keogh from Na Forbacha, together with Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty, have next month’s Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne in their sights after the crew’s spectacular effort in the European Championships over the weekend.

The Irish four came within half a second of claiming gold at the expense of reigning champions, the Netherlands, with a powerful late surge that saw them overhaul Great Britain for silver medal glory.

You’d imagine that now being the second highest rated in Europe would automatically qualify the Irish crew for Tokyo, but that’s not how rowing works and all hinges on the outcome in Lucerne in May.

The six A finalists from the World Championships in 2019 automatically won their passage to the Olympic Games, with Ireland and China also expected to get through when they lined up for the B final held in Linz, Austria.

Ireland and China were in the favoured middle lanes based on times posted already in the championships, but a strong crosswind had a disproportionate impact on their performance, allowing the more sheltered boats of Great Britain and Canada to clinch the two remaining Olympic qualifying places.

Keogh was on that Irish crew, with fellow Galwegian Murtagh stepping up to international level in the interim. Though both were delighted and proud of their silver medal winning performance on Sunday, they are already focused on next month’s date with destiny.

The Irish women will remain in Italy to continue their preparations for Lucerne and when speaking to the Connacht Tribune on Monday, Aifric and Fiona wanted to articulate their appreciation for all the messages of congratulations they have received since winning European silver.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

United are ‘bulling to go’ after additional week off

Keith Kelly

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The CEO of the Bons Secours Hospital, Gerry Burke (centre) pictured with United manager, John Caulfield; and Galway United commercial manager, Francis Kelly, as he announced an extension of the partnership deal which sees the Bons continue to be the club’s official healthcare partner for the 2021 season. The partnership will continue to provide Galway United FC with access to the state-of-the-art facilities and resources at the hospital.

The frustration felt by the Galway United squad at making what turned out to be an unnecessary trip to Dublin for last Friday’s league game with Cabinteely pales in comparison to the frustration felt by the players at not getting the chance to get the previous weekend’s game against Athlone Town out of their system.

United were beyond bad in that game in the Midlands, and were lucky to only be on the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat. John Caulfield described the first-half performance in particular as the worst of his reign, and vowed there would not be a repeat.

The United manager says his players had worked hard in training and were “bulling to get going” last Friday, but he says that sense of urgency will simply transfer to his side for this evening’s visit of the league’s newest side, Treaty United, to Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm).

“I suppose it was good to get another week under our belts, especially for the lads who had been struggling with knocks, but to be honest with you, the lads were bulling to get going last weekend to get that Athlone performance out of their system.

“We spoke honestly in the week after that game and we were ready to get that performance out of our system. We had trained well, so the lads were disappointed not to have a game last weekend, but it gives other fellas an extra week,” Caulfield told City Sport this week.

That weekend off has given the likes of Killian Brouder, Padraic Cunningham, Conor O’Keeffe and Caoilfhionn O’Dea additional time to recover from knocks, though Caulfield says the latter two in particular are a doubt for tonight.

It has also given Ronan Manning an extra week of recovery from an injury that has seen him yet to make an appearance for United in either preseason or the league since his return to the club from Athlone Town in December, though Caulfield says the playmaker is not far from a return.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Utd hope to sign off a strange week by toppling Treaty men

Keith Kelly

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Galway United’s Stephen Walsh who will be hoping the Tribesmen make home advantage pay against Treaty United at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night.

GALWAY United will go looking for their first win of the season on the pitch this Friday when they welcome the league’s newest club, Treaty United, to Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm), having apparently opened their account in the ‘W’ column last Friday against the league’s second newest club without kicking a ball either in anger or pleasure.

United are expected to be awarded the three points for last Friday’s scheduled game against Cabinteely in Dublin, a tie which was called off by the the home side just over two hours before kick-off due to a case of Covid-19 in their camp.

The travelling United party had already made its way to Dublin – in two buses in order to comply with social distancing – and had just finished their prematch meal and were about to depart their stop-off point, a hotel in Leopardstown, when word came through that the game was off.

It subsequently emerged that there were rumours flying around Dublin all week that the game was likely to be called off as, it was claimed, a number of players at Cabinteely were deemed close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case at the club.

Some of those rumours had travelled down the M6 to reach Galway, but United prepared as normal for the game, and were understandably hugely frustrated at having gone to the expense and effort to travel to Dublin in two separate groups, only to have a game that was apparently under threat for much of the week called off at such a late stage

“Following discussions with the HSE around a positive Covid-19 case at the club, Cabinteely FC have informed the League of Ireland that they are unable to field a team for the scheduled SSE Airtricity First Division fixture against Galway United,” read a statement issued by the FAI at 5.41pm last Friday.

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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