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Promotion on line for Wegians in winner take-all-tie

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Monivea's Gerard Divilly scoring a try in the Connacht Junior Cup final despite the best efforts of Westport's Niall O'Malley at the Sportsground on Sunday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

FIRST of all, you haven’t made a mistake – the hugely important Galwegians and Garryowen Ulster Bank League game in Crowley Park on Saturday really is kicking off ten minutes before the Connacht and Ulster clash at the Sportsground.

Saturday’s game is a straightforward winner takes all battle for the Division 1b title and the automatic promotion spot to Division 1a, but as it is the final day of the season and because Dublin University can still grab second place (which would mean a promotion play off) ahead of the side that loses in Crowley Park, all games in the Division must kick off at the same time.

That combined with the television deals dictating Connacht kick off times has led to the crazy situation that will see these two big rugby games clash on Saturday. No one in Galwegians will be too concerned at this stage, for the players and management that won’t even register and for most club members and supporters the decision to watch their club in such a big game over their province will be an easy one.

Garryowen arrive as slight favourites based on recent form. The Limerick side have the experience of big season ending games and the depth in their panel to put some real pressure on their Galway opponents at the weekend. For Matt Brown and John Muldoon, they know that the underdog tag will rest easy on their squads shoulders and they’ll just be hoping for the good weather to hold and injuries to clear.

Ironically enough, in a season where Galwegians have made it their business to avoid using contracted Connacht players as much as possible to ensure their starting lineup isn’t disrupted too heavily, it is Garryowen who will be sweating on Connacht’s team selection with their hugely important tighthead JP Cooney in line for Pro12 duty.

For Galwegians, they will want to fix some of the wrongs of the first half and use the template of the second half in the remarkable game in Belfast Harlequins two weeks ago where they came from 33-5 down at half time to almost win it, losing 36-34.

All season, the Sky Blues backline has proven to be an electric asset in tricky situation with the likes of Brian Murphy, John Cleary and Rory Parata notching up tries for fun at times, but the leadership up from of Ja Naughton and the hard work of the likes of Martin Cummins, Brian McClearn, Josh Pimm and Anthony Ryan has proven key and will be vital at the weekend.

For the other Connacht sides in All Ireland league action this weekend, Saturday’s games will be end of season dead rubbers with Corinthians the most disappointed in that regard. The Galway side travel to Limerick to face UL Bohemian aware that relegation from Division 1b is now a certainty. Buccaneers are in Ballymena safe in mid table and Sligo will complete a solid Division 2b campaign at home to top four chasing Greystones.

In the Round Robin Qualifiers on Saturday, where the champions of the four provincial league play off for a place in the All Ireland League, there is action in Clifden as Connemara host Instonians at the Monastery Field.

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

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.

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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.

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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

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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