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Rugby dominates Galway Sports Stars awards

John McIntyre

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IN a year in which the Connacht rugby team broke new ground in spectacular style, it’s highly appropriate that the Galway Sports Stars Hall of Fame award for 2016 will be presented to a former Irish captain and a man who also led the Lions tour of 1983 to New Zealand.

Loughrea native Ciaran Fitzgerald, skipper of the triumphant Ireland Triple Crown teams of 1982 and 1985, will have his exploits on the rugby field honoured at the 52nd annual Galway Sports Stars banquet in the Galway Bay Hotel on Saturday night, February 4.

It’s going to be an occasion dominated by the sport of rugby as Connacht’s mould-breaking Guinness Pro12 success will be celebrated with three different awards – Coach of the Year: Pat Lam; Player of the Year: John Muldoon; and the Team of the Year accolade

It will also be a big night for the Sarsfields Camogie Club as their great exploits at different levels, including a first ever county senior title, is recognised with the Club of the Year award, while multi-medal winner Siobhan McGrath will pick up the individual Camogie honour.

Galway captain David Burke, who also central to St Thomas’ regaining the Galway title, has been chosen as the Hurler of the Year, with the Gaelic Football award going to Corofin’s defensive dynamo Ciaran McGrath, a player who has twice recovered from career-threatening injuries.

McGrath’s clubmate, Dáithí Burke, is honoured with a Special Achievement award following a hectic season which saw win a hurling All Star and play a leading role in Corofin capturing the Galway football title for a fourth year-in-a-row and also regaining the Connacht crown.

Jockey Paddy Brennan, who enjoyed a landmark season thanks to the exploits of Cue Card and reaching 1,000 career winners, picks up the Horse Racing award for the fourth time, while another multi-award winner Sean Breathnach, Irish Shot Putt champion, takes the Athletics accolade again.

Also, no strangers to these awards are Daryl Horan, whose fantastic season with Dundalk ensures the Salthill man wins the Soccer accolade for the second year in succession, and Ronan Mullarney, who followed into the footsteps of some legendary Irish golfers by winning the prestigious Mullingar Scratch Cup.

Newcomers to the honours list are Niamh Duggan (Ladies Football), Gabriel Dossen (Boxing), Eoin Rockall (Basketball), and Aoife Shorten (Swimming), while National champions, the NUIG Coxless Fours, will be feted with the Rowing award.

Another highlight of the presentation banquet promises to be the honouring of TJ Beatty as the Special Dedication award winner in recognition of his lifetime’s involvement with athletics between competing, coaching and administrating.  Gold medal cycling winner in Rio, Eoghan Clifford will have his great achievement recognised with the Paralympics award.

The Sports Stars awards are the definitive benchmark of sporting achievement in the county and special guest at the presentation banquet – the social highlight of the local sporting year – will be Eamonn Coughlan, the former World 5,000m champion.

Galway’s biggest private employers and medical devices company, Medtronic, continue as sponsors of the Sports Stars awards, and the panel of local journalists who adjudicate on the awards are indebted to the company for its valued support.

The selection panel comprised of: John McIntyre, Connacht Tribune; Billy Coss, Tuam Herald; Mártan Ó Ciadhra, Raidio na Gaeltachta; Frank Farragher, Connacht Tribune; Stephen Glennon, Connacht Tribune; Michael Glynn, Connacht Tribune; Seán Bán Breathnach, Raidio na Gaeltachta; Keith Kelly, Connacht Tribune; and Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune.

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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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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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