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Salthill soul-searching pays off after early title race blow

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The Salthill/Knocknacarra senior football mentors who will be trying to plot Corofin's downfall in Sunday's County Final at Pearse Stadium, from left: Declan Burke, trainer, Tom Kelly, Val Daly, manager, and Sean O'Dowd with his son Jack.

EVERY successful team encounters a turning point in the season. The sh*t-or-bust moment arrived quite early for Salthill/Knocknacarra.

In keeping with their tradition of slow starts to championship campaigns, the city club faced a fork in the road in May when they lost 1-8 to 2-7 to Milltown.

Captain Conor Halloran, from Knocknacarra, remembers the frank team meeting that followed the defeat.

The prospect of losing the next match, against Leitir Mór, and being plunged into relegation, sharpened the minds.

“You have to leave your feelings at the door when these team meetings are going on. It’s completely all honesty,” he says.

“We all had to sit down and reassess where we were and what we really wanted from this year. We all had to sit down and said ‘look lads, there’s no point wasting all of our time here’. So we really had to decide, write down our goals for the year and say ‘look, what do we have to do to get there?’

“Everyone has to take a real hard look at themselves and say, ‘well we’ve been training a lot, and very hard for that first-round game but didn’t turn up – what are we willing to do now to push on?”

The soul searching worked. Salthill duly defeated Leitir Mór and haven’t looked back since, toppling Caltra, Caherlistrane and Cortoon on the way to their third final in five years.

“Ever since that first loss to Milltown, we’ve been rising steadily. With each game we’ve improved significantly, and we’re hoping that we’re going to peak at the right time now.”

They’ll certainly need to be at their best to topple the champions, Corofin, who haven’t been beaten in championship football in Galway in four seasons.

Halloran, an accounts manager with city-based Blue Tree Systems, knows only too well that the North Galway kingpins have the ability to rout opponents who are not operating at full tilt.

He was a member of the successful 2012 Salthill team who won the club’s third ever Frank Fox cup with victory over Tuam Stars. But he’s suffered bad days, too.

Mention 2013 – the last occasion Salthill and Corofin met in a senior final – and Halloran smiles wryly. “I don’t have such great memories of that one!”

Salthill were hammered by 12 points in Tuam Stadium, in an encounter that was all but over after 18 minutes.

“Unfortunately for us, we didn’t turn up on the day. They had a good margin of victory over us. They really blitzed us from the word go. We were left a bit shell-shocked. It wasn’t a great start to any county final and we were chasing the game,” he recalls.  Not that he lays awake worrying about it. Halloran and Salthill has moved on.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

City sides will fancy chances of advancing as champions face Corofin

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Bearna's James Kennedy hits the deck in Ballinasloe on Tuesday as Annaghdown's Frankie Burke and Darragh Meehan try to chase down possession. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The battle for this year’s county Senior Gaelic football club title looks to be wide open after the quarter-final draw was made this week following the delayed conclusion of the group stages on Tuesday night.

Salthill/Knocknacarra, who finished second in group 2, have been handed a last eight tie with a Tuam Stars side that finished third in group 1; while St Michael’s, who topped Group 3, will face an Annaghdown side that nabbed the final quarter-final spot in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night.

They went into their game with Bearna knowing they needed to win by a minimum of 12points to pip Milltown to the final qualifying spot as the second best of the teams that finished third in the group stages.

They looked to be coming up just short until they were awarded a late free, which goalkeeper James Healy converted, to snatch that remaining quarter-final slot on socring difference form Milltown.

The 2020 champions, Moycullen, will take on Claregalway in the last eight; while the pick of the ties is undoubtedly the clash of defending champions, Mountbellew/Moylough, with a Corofin side that was denied the five-in-a-row by Moycullen two years ago.

At the other end of the equation, St James’ are in a relegation battle, and face a clash with An Spidéal in the preliminary play-offs. A win will secure their senior status for another year, but a defeat will see them join Oughterard, An Cheathru Rua, and the losers of the other preliminary play-off between Caherlistrane and Monivea/Abbey in a round robin league, with the bottom two sides in those play-offs dropping to the intermediate ranks next year.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Play-offs dress rehearsal facing Utd against Treaty

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Former Galway United player Enda Curran celebrates his recent hat-trick for Treaty United in their FAI Cup quarter-final win over UCD. The in-form Mervue native will be facing the Tribesmen in a First Division clash on Friday.

GALWAY United head to Limerick this Friday evening for what is looking like a dress rehearsal for the end-of-season play-offs as they take on Treaty United in the Markets Field (7.45pm).

This is United’s game-in-hand over league leaders, Cork City, and a win will see them close the gap on the Leesiders to four points with three games remaining, and while a win would give the slightest of hopes of a late challenge for league honours, it is more likely to serve as a further boost to confidence ahead of the protracted play-off series that kicks-off at the end of next month.

United need to win their final four games to have any hope of snatching the title, and given the goal difference between the sides, they also need to hope that City don’t pick up more than four points from their last three games, if they are to finish top of the pile.

United’s last three games after this weekend are at home to Athlone, away to Wexford, and home to Longford Town; while City are home to Wexford, away to Athlone, and home to Bray, the easier of the two run-ins, so for United it is all about building momentum ahead of the play-offs.

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

Late points from Burke and Wall grab draw for Corofin

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Tuam Stars' Paul Collins tries to halt Ronan Steede of Corofin in his tracks during Sunday's Senior Football Group 1 encounter at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Corofin 0-16

Tuam Stars 0-16

Eanna O’Reilly at Tuam Stadium

A late point from Corofin’s Ian Burke denied Tuam Stars a notable win over their close neighbours in an entertaining contest at Tuam Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In a closely fought contest, the Stars appeared to have done enough with two late points from Brian Mannion putting them ahead by 0-16 to 0-14 in the dying minutes of the second half.

In typically composed fashion however, Corofin refused to panic and used all of their experience to engineer two late scores, the first from Dylan Wall, before Burke held his nerve to convert a mark to give Corofin a share of the spoils.

The result means that both sides qualified for the quarter finals, after both finished the group stages with eight points. Corofin were drawn against defending champions Mountbellew/Moylough in a mouth-watering tie, while Tuam Stars will face Salthill/Knocknacara in another intriguing clash.

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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