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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

Only 1,000 a day but Galway Summer Festival still promises to be memorable

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Michael Moloney, CEO of Galway Racecourse.

THERE won’t be many there, but Galway racecourse is pulling out all the stops to make sure the race-day experience is as near normal as possible at Ballybrit next week.

With only a daily attendance of 1,000 – plus industry staff –  the famed Galway Summer Festival will bear little resemblance to the usual throngs associated with the week-long meeting.

But with half the enclosure cordoned off next week, it means the restricted crowd will be more confined which should help in generating something of an atmosphere.

About eight bookmakers will be operating at the festival, and punters will also be able to avail of Tote facilities.

A marquee has been set up in the Boomakers’ Ring from where a table service will be available for the supply of liquid refreshments. There will also be catering stations, and everything will be outdoors.

There will be an industry bubble near the parade ring for jockeys, trainers, HRI personnel and the media which the general public won’t have access to.

Entrance to the racecourse will only be via the Parkmore Road as the centre of the course will remain closed for the duration of the festival.

Given the hot weather, it’s no surprise that 10mls of water is being spread on the course daily and Galway CEO, Michael Moloney, reports that the going on both the National Hunt and flat tracks is good.

“The lads come in around 4am and do the watering overnight to maximise its impact. We are trying to keep on top of the situation, but it’s a bit of a Catch 22 as the forecast is for temperatures to cool and for some rain next Wednesday.”

Though remaining frustrated that their application for a daily attendance of 5,000 was turned down, Moloney believes that the lucky few who attend Ballybrit will still enjoy the festival.

“I think we will have a nice little atmosphere given that the crowd won’t be so spread out,” said Moloney, who expressed delight with the strong level of entries for the meeting.

Though no cross-channel challengers are entered for the Tote Galway Plate, there are three possible contenders from the UK in the Guinness Hurdle –  Copperless, the runaway winner of the Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in May, Neil Mulholland’s Scottish Champion Hurdle hero Milkwood, and Mrs Hyde, trained by Brian Ellison who has five Galway festival winners to his name.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Anything could happen but Galway ready to give it a go

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Galway's Matthew Tierney of Galway celebrates after scoring his side's second goal in their Connacht semi-final win over Roscommon. The Tribesmen face Mayo in Sunday's provincial final at Croke Park.

TWO of the traditional GAA powerhouses, Galway and Mayo, clash in the Connacht senior football decider as all roads this Sunday lead to … Dublin!

Yes, the more cynical among the GAA fraternity may perceive that the move is finance driven, but, whatever the motive, it does mean that 18,000 supporters have the opportunity to attend one of the great showpieces of the year. In the 16 months that’s just been, we’ll certainly take it.

While the staging of the Connacht decider, due to throw-in at Croke Park at 1:30pm, outside of the province is novel, to say the least, it is not unheard of as Galway and Mayo senior ladies footballers held their Connacht final replay at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in 2019.

That LGFA game was the curtain-raiser to the clash of Galway and Mayo men in the All-Ireland qualifier series and, while Galway lost out to Mayo in the main event, the Tribeswomen’s victory in their provincial showdown at an ‘outside’ venue beforehand may be a good omen for Sunday.

Other than that, the record books show that Galway and Sligo did meet in the 1922 Connacht final at Croke Park – played in early October 1923. Sligo had won the original fixture – and beaten Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final – but a Galway objection resulted in the game being re-fixed for Castlerea.

However, Central Council ordered that it be played at Croke Park. Galway won 2-4 to 2-2, before losing out to Dublin on a 0-6 to 0-4 scoreline in the delayed All-Ireland decider.

At any rate, both Galway and Mayo will seek to make their own piece of history on Sunday. The good news from a Galway perspective is that captain Shane Walsh should be fit to line out, having been forced off with a hamstring injury late on against Roscommon.

“He is fine,” confirmed Galway boss Padraic Joyce at last week’s press conference. “It was a worry the way he pulled up in the game. He had a little bit of a hamstring issue, but it wasn’t torn, just more tightness than anything else. He is fine; he is training away.”

The Kilkerrin/Clonberne sharpshooter’s availability represents a significant boost to Galway. In the National League, he tallied 0-26, 0-16 from placed balls, and, although quieter against Roscommon, he converted two crucial frees in their 2-11 to 0-12 Connacht semi-final victory.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
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CITY TRIBUNE

Maree/Oranmore and Corrib Rangers claim crucial wins

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Maree/Oranmore FC players celebrate as Eoghan McDonagh lifts the cup following their 3-2 win over Salthill Devon in Eamonn Deacy Park on Tuesday night to clinch the Galway FA U-21 Premier League title. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

Hibernians 2

Corrib Rangers 3

Two years ago, Jimmy Jennings hung up his boots after he had offered a wonderful service to his local club Corrib Rangers, and before that, OLBC. Mainly used as a central defender, but also as a temporary striker, he was 38 at the time and had paid his dues to both clubs.

Of course, the current season is a strange one, with just a one round league and confusion about relegation and as the brief season wound down, Corrib Rangers were in trouble in the lower regions of the table.

A call to Jennings by manager Dave Daly saw the veteran return and after making an initial substitute appearance in a 1-1 draw with Maree/Oranmore, he was introduced on the half hour mark on Sunday in Bohermore and changed the course of the game with two smashing goals.

An equalising header in first half additional time was powerful and morale boosting, before he struck for the winner just four minutes from time.

A lot was at stake in the last game of the Premier Division season. A win for either of the two teams in Bohermore had the potential to move them from the relegation zone – depending on results elsewhere; while draw was no good to either as they would remain in the bottom two.

As matters transpires, the wins for Rangers and Maree/Oranmore has seen them join St Bernard’s on eight points and if there is relegation, it will take a play-off to decide who goes down with bottom of the table Hibernians.

It was the home side who looked the better outfit in the early exchanges, but they struggled to turn possession into opportunities. They did, however, take the lead on 14 minutes when striker Nathan Ward (striker) pass released Alan Conneely and the winger cut in before firing past Gary Martin for a 1-0 advantage.

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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