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Patience pays off for a ‘giddy’ local syndicate

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Kilconly's Gabriel Walsh and Tuam's Jim Murphy, owners of Aerlite Supreme, recieve the winners' trophy from Frank Fahy, Galway Race Committee, centre, after landing the CCTV Venue Control Maiden Hurdle at last year's October Bank Holiday meeting.

ASK Gabriel Walsh what it is like to own a winner at the Galway Races and he laughs as he remembers the giddy excitement among the youthful members of the Arragh Will You Stop syndicate when Operation Houdini romped home on a memorable September evening six years ago.

A little reluctant at first, Milltown native Walsh was persuaded to join a nine man syndicate mostly made up of young, enthusiastic students to purchase the horse from Davey Fitzgerald in Co Limerick two years earlier.

Operation Houdini produced the magic to win back-to-back handicaps at the September meetings in Galway in 2008 and 2009, and was controversially demoted to second place at the Cork National due to “deemed interference” three fences out in November 2009.

Walsh had taken a break from owning horses for a few years before his nephew got in touch in 2006 and he admits he was “dubious at the beginning” when he was asked to join up with a group of students to form a new syndicate.

“We had four children in college at the time and I had taken a break due to the unpredictability of the game. But the students kept ringing me, they wanted to buy a horse from Kildare,” he says.

After their first win with Operation Houdini, some of the students were convinced they were on to a gravy train. “If you have too many in a syndicate, some would want to run a horse every week and others would want to rest him,” he says. “It’s all about patience, but when a group of students start winning it’s hard to preach patience to them!

“These young lads were very interested in horse racing, but young lads have no patience. It was brilliant to win in Galway and we got a fantastic reception from the local crowd. The horses have been lucky for me, but it is just an interest. Let nobody tell you that you are going to make a fortune out of owning a racehorse. You need to give the horse time.”

The nine man syndicate members went their own way shortly afterwards, but – teaming up with long-term colleague Jim Murphy – Gabriel enjoyed another winner with Aerlite Supreme in a maiden hurdle at Ballybrit last October.

Based in Kilconly for the past 31 years, Walsh first got involved in horse racing over two decades ago when he bought a horse called Parson’s Placid, which finished second in a handicap hurdle at Gowran Park. He kept the horse at the family farm in Kilconly, to the delight of his four young children at the time.

“I remember Jimmy Glynn, a friend of mine in Tuam, had a horse and told me to buy this mare called Parson’s Placid. I decided to breed from her, but that proved unsuccessful. Since then, I have been lucky with the horses, but you need a bit of luck in anything in life,” he said.

Within a couple of years, he formed a syndicate called The Maktoum Brothers with Tom Burke and brothers Pat and John Farrell.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

St Thomas’ rewrite modern-day record books with thrilling final replay triumph

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St Thomas’ Mark Caufield and Kieran Hanrahan of Loughrea in a race for possession during Sunday's Galway Senior Hurling Final replay at Pearse Stadium. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

St Thomas’ 1-15

Loughrea 0-17

John McIntyre at Pearse Stadium

THERE is no doubt about it anymore. St Thomas’ are the most successful team to have graced the hurling fields of Galway in over half a century.

True, they still have ground to make up on Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna, in particular, on the All-Ireland stage, but the men from Peterswell and Kilchreest continue to rewrite modern-day records on the domestic scene.

Not since Turloughmore in 1965 has a team won five county senior hurling titles on the trot, and the fact that St Thomas’ were pushed to the limit to emulate that achievement only adds lustre to a remarkable sequence of big-day triumphs.

Sunday’s replay at Pearse Stadium had a lot to live up to from the drawn final the previous week, but the second helpings served up by St Thomas’ and Loughrea were every bit as appetising as first-time around. This was another classic when once again you couldn’t be sure about the outcome until the very end.

St Thomas’ have never been taken to the brink like this before in a Galway final. For them to be still champions after two epic contests not only underlines their quality, but also the team’s resilience and redoubtable spirit.

A gallant Loughrea threw everything at the title-holders for the second time in eight days. Playing some glorious hurling and totally committed, they still couldn’t shift Conor Cooney and his colleagues from their lofty perch.

Oh, they had chances to take Sunday’s replay to extra-time, and they will be haunted by late efforts from Neil Keary (twice) and Jamie Ryan which drifted wide of the posts. It was probably the only period over the two matches that Loughrea’s nerve failed them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Treviso visit the Sportsground in what is a must-win clash for home side

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It is not the game you’d have picked out as being a potential season-defining one for Connacht, but defeat at home to Treviso this Saturday (3.15pm) would as good as end the domestic season for the western province with only three chocolates eaten from the Advent Calendar.

Connacht go into the game on the back of yet another game in which they flattered to deceive, a poor display against Munster undoing a lot of the good work of a run of three wins in four games that proceeded last weekend’s trip to Thomond Park.

Head coach, Peter Wilkins, says the players had a tough and hard-hitting review of that game on Monday, and that while they will take the lessons learned from their displays, it is in the past now, with all the focus now on tomorrow’s game.

“The players have been in a really positive headspace, it was a really constructive, but I would say also a confronting review [of the Munster game], and that is what the needed, players taking ownership of mistakes and decision making.

“It is one thing standing up in front of the group and saying ‘I own that’ but it is also about coming up with solutions, how you as an individual or a team can do better next time, they didn’t need picking up emotionally, but there was a fiery determination to do better next time,” he said.

Wilkins, who took over from Andy Friend as head coach ahead of the start of this season, admits that the performance and result against Munster “wasn’t good enough, I think the result and the scoreline reflects that”, but there is no sense of panic in, or pressure on, the squad.

“I don’t think there is an increasing pressure,” he said when asked if Connacht were now entering the realm of must-win games.

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.

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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

Thompson the hero as Salthill pull out all the stops in victory

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Salthill Knocknacarra's Lauren O’Donnell secures possession ahead of Chloe Johnston of O’Dwyer's during Sunday's All-Ireland Club Junior Ladies Football semi-final at the Prairie. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Salthill/Knocknacarra 1-7

 O’Dwyer’s 1-6

DARREN KELLY IN THE PRAIRIE

SALTHILL/Knocknacarra’s tales of achievement across all four codes in the last 12 months reached another milestone last Sunday as their ladies football team qualified for the All-Ireland Junior Final.

Last December, the senior hurlers became Connacht champions before the camogie side marched on to a national decider in Croke Park last March.

John O’Mahony’s footballers were just one point short of Moycullen in October’s senior football final. But as the countdown to Christmas began with Friday’s Toy Show, the ladies footballers are 60 minutes away from the club’s biggest present since 2006.

The city side won’t grace Croke Park like their camogie counterparts but overcame torrential conditions to reach to win an All-Ireland semi-final and will face Cork’s Naomh Abán on Sunday week.

Lauren O’Donnell’s goal was the first half highlight as the sun and blue skies graced the occasion, next door to the county senior hurling final replay. But Mother Nature turned vicious upon Loughrea’s defeat in Pearse Stadium and with a half-hour later start, this semi-final felt the full force of the sudden change in weather.

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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