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Out of sorts Connacht stumble badly

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Connacht's Eoin McKeon who scored a late consolation try in their Guinness Pro12 defeat to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night.

Ospreys 26

Connacht 11

IN the heel of the hunt, a 15 point loss to the Ospreys is unlikely to be a talking point when the season review starts in May 2015. This wasn’t a defining game in the  Connacht campaign nor could it be looked upon as points dropped, but it still rankles and could yet be a foretaste of some less promising days ahead.

The Ospreys are a play off bound side, they are a title contender, this was their seventh win in as many outings. Very few teams will win at the Liberty Stadium this season and that certainly goes for the Llanelli Scarlets, Dragons, Edinburgh and Cardiff all of whom are Connacht’s main rivals for a top six place.

Yet here was an opportunity all the same, here was a team missing seven front line players to the Welsh international squad and without a host of talented back row options, leaving them down to two strong flankers in Sam Lewis and Justin Tipuric, and three under 21s including last minute loanee from Cardiff Ieun Jones.

The Ospreys were vulnerable and two minutes into the second half a Connacht side that had lost just once in six previous Pro 12 outings, looked like they might take advantage as they led 6-3 and were dominating in the scrum. It wasn’t a case of the Westerners being worth the lead, they weren’t, the main first half try scoring chances had come from the home side but rather that in a broken, disjointed and flat contest, Pat Lam’s side had got their noses in front.

But this young Connacht side failed to hold their composure during the backlash despite having a real platform to exploit their opponents. That foundation came from a strong scrum and a close to full strength line up with Bundee Aki looking sharp in the early stages of his debut before breaking down with cramp in the second half.

During a disjointed and ragged 15 minute spell for Connacht, the home side scored 23 points without reply and had this game wrapped up by the 60 minute mark. It was the second week in a row that Connacht entered the final quarter of a game in ‘damage limitation’ mode. That’s a big turnabout from what we saw in the first seven games of the season.

While the Ospreys will review this as a game where a much beleaguered squad dug deep after a poor first half and eventually put their interior opponents to the sword, from Connacht’s point of view the game turned on a mismatch in defence and one costly lapse at scrum time.

During half time, the BBC Wales dressing room cameras showed Osprey’s coach Steve Tandy dissecting some of the problem areas on the big screen as the players looked on. It emerged afterwards that they had resolved to target some backline mismatches that were developing and were looking to attacking Connacht in midfield on second and third phase. It worked, Rodney Ah You was exploited by a Dan Evans break and Connacht were carved open with Hassler’s try on 46 minutes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway’s senior panel strongly support the split-season formula

John McIntyre

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Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan who strongly favours a split-season between inter-county and club.

OVER 90% of the Galway senior camogie panel have voted in favour of a split-season between inter-county and club.

And the Tribeswomen will be standing firm with the other 11 senior counties in boycotting the upcoming National League if the Camogie Association doesn’t perform a U-turn on its controversial fixtures calendar.

The plan to run off the club championships between the National League and All-Ireland inter-county campaigns has sparked an outcry among the sport’s elite.

In response to widespread protests, the Camogie Association is currently carrying out a survey among its clubs and members before deciding on a final fixtures template.

Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan has already nailed her colours to the mast in supporting the split-season formula.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht turn to South Africa for team’s new forwards coach

John McIntyre

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South African Dewald Senekai who will be Connacht's new Forwards Coach next season.

A 40 year-old South African is on his way to the Sportsground as Forwards Coach for the start of next season.

With Nigel Carolan and Jimmy Duffy departing the Connacht coaching staff at the end of the current campaign, the province has moved quickly to fill the void.

Already Connacht had moved Peter Wilkins (new Defence Coach), Colm Tucker and Mossy Lawler up through their own coaching ranks, but the need for an outside appointment remained paramount.

Dewald Senekal arrives with extensive coaching experience, most recently serving as Forwards Coach for Stade Francais in the Top 14 after taking over from Paul O’Connell in the role.

From 2017 to 2019 ,he was Joint Head Coach of Grenoble, leading them to promotion from Pro D2 to the Top 14 in his first season.

Senekai began his coaching career in 2015 as Forwards Coach of Bayonne where he finished a long playing career. He also lined out for French sides Toulon and Agen, and South African outfits, the Cheetahs and Lions.

Head Coach Andy Friend is delighted that the South African has signed up with Connacht. “Following an extensive recruitment process, we are thrilled that Dewald is joining the Connacht coaching team.

“He is an extremely impressive individual who will add a lot to the set-up, as well as providing a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas. I know the players will really enjoy working with him and the coaches likewise.

“Our coaching team is now complete with Dewald joining Pete, Mossy, Cullie and myself for the next two years, and we feel very optimistic about what we can achieve both as a group and in the club.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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.

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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

Resurgent Connacht relishing battle with vulnerable Leinster

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Connacht winger Alex Wootton who has recovered from injury and is available for Saturday's Rainbow Cup clash against Leinster at the Sportsground.

By Rob Murphy

TAKE a breath of the fresh air that surrounds the Connacht rugby team right now and you’ll get the unmistakable impression that they are relishing the Rainbow Cup competition.

Leinster arrive in Galway on Saturday evening for round two of the six game end of season tournament, licking their wounds after another Champions Cup semi final heartbreaker, while the westerners are looking for a second straight inter-provincial win.

Now let’s not oversell this. The Rainbow Cup has not gone to plan by any means, with the South African sides pulling out of the hastily arranged tournament at the last minute turning it into a six game rehash of the usual fixture, but for Andy Friend and his management team it has been a case of perfect timing for a group that really were looking for a reset button before breaking up for the summer after a long 12 months.

Two weeks on from the victory over Ulster in Ravenhill, the shouts and chirping from the pitch on College Road in Galway are no doubt that bit louder as they bellow across Bohermore and Lough Atalia. A win can do a lot for the mood of a group of athletes. The defeat to Leicester in the Challenge Cup is a distant memory and the next few weeks are about building confidence and developing new patterns. Friend is enjoying the process.

“We are pushing hard in the last few weeks and that’s a compliment to our coaching staff as well as the players. We are in the middle of three inter-pros and that’s how we are looking at it. Yes it’s the Rainbow Cup as well but first and foremost they are games with a lot to play for anyways.” noted Friend.

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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