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Rugby legend joins the United backroom team

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GALWAY United have announced a number of signings for the 2017 season, but perhaps one of the most significant is to the backroom team of new manager, Shane Keegan, with the news this week that former Connacht and Irish rugby international, Johnny O’Connor, has come on board as strength and conditioning coach.

O’Connor – who played 137 times for Connacht and also won 12 senior caps for Ireland, including in the Triple-Crown-winning year of 2006 – joins United from the Academy of English Premiership side, Arsenal. Though he admits he had planned to take a year away from sport after a change in structures at the London club.

“I thought I was going to take a complete year out, but Shane got in touch with me, we met up, and he got me interested.

“It’s great to be back home,” said the Galway City native. “I thought long and hard about joining the club and it’s an opportunity for me. Adrian Cradock was here before me and he did great work and now it’s my job to build on that and put my own influence on it.

“The key thing was Shane was very supportive and he wanted to get someone involved not just for lip service but to actually make an impact in the club. I’ve only got my foot in the door and I have to start building relationships with the players, but it’s a two-way thing. I’ll expect certain things of them but I want them to expect certain standards of me also,” O’Connor said.

On the playing front, Keegan has added three new faces to the squad, with Castlebar native, midfielder David Cawley (25), joining from St Patrick’s Athletic; central defender Lee Grace (24) follows Keegan to Galway from Wexford Youths, turning down interest from Cork City; while another Mayo native, striker Ronan Murray (25), joins from Notts County – he and Cawley have played together previously, having moved to Ipswich together in the summer of 2007.

CITY TRIBUNE

Devon trip-up in Athenry to lose ground in title race

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Knocknacarra's Davy Knight moves in to challenge Ricky Kent of Tuam Celtic at Cappagh Park, last weekend. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Athenry 1

Salthill Devon 0

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

With a one round league there is not much room for error and in Moanbawn on Wednesday evening, Athenry played as if their lives depended on it as they saw off their fellow Premier Division title challengers in a bruising encounter.

A Cole Connolly goal on 18 minutes was all that separated the teams at the finish, but in fairness the home side offered the greater attacking threat on the night and should have won with something more to spare. For those who witnessed the occasion, it was compulsive viewing.

The commitment and passion brought to the game by both sides was honest as all the players offered everything for their sides cause. However, much as Salthill Devon tried, they were outmanoeuvred by a home side who always offered something extra.

For the duration, it was Athenry who threatened the most and carried the more threat in attack, but twice in the opening half it took two brilliant reflex saves by home custodian TJ Forde to keep them in the game.

A snap shot on six minutes by Gary Shanahan was tipped over at close range by the goalkeeper and he repeated the feat later when denying Jackson de Silva after the big Brazilian got his head to a Timmy Molloy corner. Those efforts aside Devon got very little breathing space from the home back four of Gary O’Connell, Dan Cunningham, Morgan Leggett and Declan Cullen.

After Colm O’Donovan could not connect with a diving header following a Ryan Shaughnessy cross, the home side took the lead shortly afterwards, when visiting custodian Arek Mamala had a clearance half-blocked by Connolly and the rebound fell kindly for the Craughwell native as he executed the perfect lob over the stricken goalkeeper and into the net for a 1-0 advantage.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Lions debut for Aki

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Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw will renew their centre partnership tomorrow when the Lions take on Japan. Photo: INPHO/James Crombie.

Bundee Aki will become the fourth Connacht player to pull on a Lions jersey after he was named in the starting XV that will take on Japan tomorrow in Edinburgh in a challenge game ahead of the summer’s trip to South Africa.

Aki will renew his Connacht and Ireland centre partnership at Murrayfield with Robbie Henshaw in a side featuring six Irish players, with a seventh on the bench.

“That combination obviously goes back to the Connacht days,” Lions head coach, and former Connacht and Ireland head coach, Warren Gatland explained. “It’s the two Connacht lads coming together and I think they are obviously great mates as well, so that kind of helps.”

Aki follows in the footsteps of Ray McLoughlin, John O’Driscoll, and Ciaran Fitzgerald in becoming a Lion while still playing for Connacht, and Gatland says he expects the Connacht man to surprise a few people with the various facets to his game.

Henshaw had moved on to Leinster by the time he was picked for the 2017 tour to New Zealand, but having played against club sides Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues, he had to withdraw from before playing in a test match after picking up an injury against the Hurricanes, but Gatland is expecting great things from their partnership.

“A lot of people sort of see Bundee as someone . . . and we know he is capable of getting the ball across the gain line, but he has got a lot more than just that to offer.

“He has got some real rugby skill, some great footwork, and a passing and offloading game. So, we are expecting some real quality rugby out of both of those two men,” Gatland said.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway left with lessons to learn after league final loss

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Galway defender Siobhan Gardiner is about to challenge Kilkenny’s Miriam Walsh duruing the National Camogie League final at Croke Park on Sunday Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

By Eanna O’Reilly

WHEN Galway look back on Sunday’s league final defeat to Kilkenny, they will undoubtedly focus on the third quarter of the game as the period when things went badly wrong. After dominating the opening half, with a three-point lead at the interval, Galway appeared to be in a strong position. By the 39th minute, however, the Tribeswomen found themselves five points behind after an extraordinary turnaround from Brian Dowling’s Kilkenny side.

During that period, the Cats scored 1-5 without reply (all from play) to put themselves firmly in the driving seat. This eight-point turnaround forced Cathal Murray’s side to chase the game for the remainder, which they did admirably, drawing level by the 60th minute. However, the surrender of a strong half time position was something they will be very disappointed with.

Galway began brightly, with some excellent attacking play early in the game. Catherine Finnerty showed her running threat in the opening half, drawing three fouls from the Kilkenny backs. Carrie Dolan had a tremendous first half, taking two good points from play along with five pointed frees. Dolan hit two from the sideline on the Cusack Stand side, from very difficult angles, which were superb.

Sarah Spellman worked hard in the half forward line and had some effective moments, while the inside trio looked dangerous. Ailish O’Reilly, Siobhán McGrath and Aoife Donohue carried a major threat when supplied with possession. McGrath almost put Finnerty through on goal and O’Reilly linked up well with Dolan for two points, while she was fouled for another pointed free.

Donohue drew two fouls, which were pointed, while she also scored herself after a great move involving Niamh Kilkenny and Finnerty. Galway created a major goal chance when Spellman’s attempted shot broke to Dolan, but her effort was saved by Aoife Norris. Unfortunately for the Galway free taker, she missed her easiest placed ball of the day just before half-time.

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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