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O’Brien heads to Galway October meeting with stable stars Valours Minion and Abarta

John McIntyre

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The Val O'Brien trained Valours Minion winning the Renvyle House Hotel Handicap Steeplechase at last year's Galway October meeting. The 12-year-old is again bound for Ballybrit on Monday

LOCAL trainer Val O’Brien is preparing a big assault on Galway’s final race meeting of the year with stable stars Abarta and Valours Minion over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Athenry-based O’Brien, who is enjoying his best campaign in years, is hoping his in-form challengers can put the seal on their respective seasons by each visiting the winners’ enclosure for a remarkable fifth time in 2015.

Abarta, successful in the Colm Quinn BMW Handicap Steeplechase at the Galway September meeting, is due to return to Ballybrit on Sunday for the Renvyle Handicap Chase, with O’Brien hoping the ground rides no worse than yielding.

Since that success, the nine-year-old finished a close-up fourth at Punchestown last week, but O’Brien points out that they didn’t go a great gallop in that race and says Abarta has an ‘outside chance’ of collecting again at Ballybrit.

Even more remarkable has been the Galway trainer’s exploits with the 12-year-old Valours Minion which had never won a race until springing a 10/1 surprise in a handicap chase at Killarney in August of last year.

Seven victories later, Valours Minon is now rated 47lbs higher and showed his current well being when coming up trumps in a competitive handicap chase under Mark Walsh in Navan at the end of last month.

The veteran is being targeted at the Ennis Lifts Handicap Chase on Monday, the feature race of the card, and O’Brien expects that the Galway meeting will also mark the end of Valours Minion’s season.

“As like Abarta, I hope the ground rides on the yielding side or better. He won twice at the track last year which is always an advantage around Galway. He’s rising in the weights but showed he could handle that in Navan the last day.” said O’Brien.

Among Valours Minion’s potential rivals will be the Steve Mahon trained Aranhill Chief which was only half a length behind his Galway rival in that race at Navan after an untidy jump at the final obstacle. Rogue Angel, winner of the Kerry National in Listowel, is the highest rated entry for the race.

The highlight of Sunday’s racing is the Faber Audiovisuals Handicap Hurdle with Mahon’s Kilcolgan based yard set to be represented by Afacat which was successful at the Galway September meeting in a similar contest.

Track manager Michael Moloney reported on Wednesday that the ground is currently good, good to yielding in places. “We’ve had a few showers and the forecast is a bit broken. As it stands, Sunday should be dry with possibly some rain on Monday.

“The track is in great condition and we are in a good position as trainers have been looking forward to some easing in the ground given the dry weather of the past few weeks,” added Moloney.

Admission for both days is €15 with the action kicking off on Sunday at 1.30pm, with Monday’s card commencing at 1.25pm. The Kilkenny Group are sponsoring a Best Dressed competition on Bank Holiday Monday which is also a Students’ Raceday in support of NUIG Volunteer Services Abroad.

 

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.

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

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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