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Sarsfields finish in blaze of glory to upset the champs

Dara Bradley

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Sarsfields Niall Morrissey tries to shake off the attentions of Gort's Michael Cummins during Sunday's senior hurling semi-final at Kenny Park. Photo: Enda Noone.

Sarsfields 0-21

Gort 0-17

SARSFIELDS are back with a bang. After a 13 years absence, the East Galway outfit return to a senior club championship county final after sensationally dethroning holders Gort in the semi-final in Athenry.

Huge crowds of supporters from New Inn and Bullaun lingered on afterwards to savour the victory; and most waited until Francis Madden’s charges had finished their warm down and gave them a rousing reception as they departed the field and headed for the dressing rooms.

What will the scenes be like if they beat Craughwell in the final at Pearse Stadium Sunday week? That’s another day’s work but they were right – even if the focus of the squad had already turned to the decider, sweet victories like Sunday’s don’t come around often and they should be savoured in their own right.

It wasn’t the most fluid performance, and the game itself left much to be desired at times with far toomany frees – 20 of the 38 scores were placed balls. But what it lacked in quality and intensity it made up for in raw tension and excitement, as Sarsfields finished strongly and pulled off the shock of the year.

Gort were hotly tipped to account for Sarsfields and very early on things were going according to plan. After eight minutes, Gort were 0-4 to no score up, as a jittery Sarsfields skewed four wides and were frozen with nerves. It looked ominous and the fear was those misses would come back to haunt the underdogs.

Even when they weren’t motoring well, there was a sense that Gort would have enough about them to get over the line. Maybe the players felt that, too; Sarsfields’ iffy start perhaps gave them a false sense of security. But Gort failed to drive home their early advantage and were guilty of some awful first-half wides as well.

Then, when Sarsfields put it up to them, and went at them, the South Galway men just couldn’t find a higher gear. Gort battled and tried hard to the finish but ran out of steam. They were flat throughout. And they lacked the spark and energy and intensity that were features last year in their march to the final, where they overcame Portumna. Gort has never won back-to-back titles and on Sunday we learned why: It’s an extremely difficult feat.

Sarsfields, after so many years in the wilderness, were far hungrier and hurled like a team that craved success. The longer Sarsfields hung in there, they grew in confidence and belief surged through the team; Gort just couldn’t shake them off and their forwards never got a rhythm going as they relied too much on the free-taking prowess of ever-reliable Aidan Helebert to keep the score board ticking over.

Good teams can win even when playing poorly and of course Gort had chances to turn things around.  A key moment came with just two minutes of normal time remaining. Aidan Harte was burrowing through the heart of the Sarsfields’ defence and bearing down on goal before Niall Quinn with a brave and vital challenge flicked the ball away from danger.

Had Quinn mistimed the challenge, it would have been a penalty; and had he not made it, Harte would almost certainly have found the net. From the ensuing play, Sarsfields stretched their lead to three points, 0-18 to 0-15, with Kerril Wade feeding finisher Noel Kelly. That was a four-point swing.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Horgan in the history books

Keith Kelly

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DARYL HORGAN

DARYL Horgan became the first Galwegian to score a senior men’s international goal when grabbing the fourth goal for the Republic of Ireland in their 4-1 friendly win over Andorra last Thursday.

Horgan, introduced as a 66th minute substitute for Ronan Curtis, got on the end of Jason Knight’s 89th minute cross to stoop low and send a diving header into the back of the net to cap a brilliant 26-minute cameo for the winger in what was his 13th senior international appearance.

The Knocknacarra native had just five minutes earlier sent in the cross from which Knight made it 3-1 to sighs of relief in the Irish camp – they had fallen 1-0 behind after 52 minutes, before a brace of goals from Troy Parrott in the 58th and 61st minutes put the Boys in Green in front and spared Stephen Kenny’s side the embarrassment of losing to a ski resort.

Horgan is one of seven Galwegians to win a senior men’s international cap – David Forde (24 caps), Alan Lee (10), Aaron Connolly (6), Greg Cunningham (4), Ryan Manning (4), and the late Eamonn ‘Chick’ Deacy (4) are the others – but he is the first to find the back of the opposition net.

He was joined from the bench last Thursday by Manning, and both players also started on the bench in Budapest on Tuesday night in the scoreless draw with Hungary, with both again being introduced in the second-half, Horgan in the 56th minute to win his 14th cap, followed by Manning in the 85th minute to win his fourth cap.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway WFC bring an end to their away woes in Cork

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Chloe Moloney who was one of Galway WFC's goal scorers in their away win over Cork WFC at Turners Cross on Saturday.

Cork City WFC 0

Galway WFC  2

By Mike Rafferty

AFTER firing blanks in their three previous away games, Galway WFC got back to winning ways when aided by two opening half goals and a first clean sheet of the season, they were worthy winners of this Women’s National League contest at Turners Cross on Saturday.

Two early headed goals by Chloe Moloney and Aoife Thompson gave them a cushion that was seldom threatened as the home side were outmaneuvered as new Galway WFC manager Stephen Lally picked up the first win of his reign.

As in previous games, the visitors were without some of their more established names, but the performances of Ruth Fahy, Lucia Lobato and Thompson helped turn an impressive performance into a worthy win. Cork goalkeeper Abby McCarthy was by far the busier of the two custodians and some good shot stopping in the early exchanges kept her side in the game.

However, there was little she could do when Galway WFC took the lead on 21 minutes, Chloe Moloney attacking a Shauna Brennan corner in a crowded box and powerfully heading home for a 1-0 advantage.

Just three minutes later, they added a second and again Brennan was at the heart of it when seeing off a challenge on the right flank, before delivering a deep cross that was powered into the bottom corner by the flying Thompson with a diving header.

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

Connacht soar in final game to clip the wings of Ospreys

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Connacht’s Ben O’Donnell, who has Ultan Dillane in support, is tackled by Rhys Webb of the Ospreys during Friday's Rainbow Cup tie at the Sportsground. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 26

Ospreys 19

Rob Murphy at the Sportsground

THE Connacht team finished Friday’s final game of the season with a flurry of fierce and well timed tackles as they held off the Ospreys and secured the win. While they did that, the Fields of Athenry bellowed from the Clan Terrace creating a surreal, almost absurd atmosphere at a near empty Sportsground. The roar that followed from the handful of souls in the stands was an appropriate end to a strange season like no other.

The singing and the shouting had come from the non selected players who had all gathered in a corner of the terrace for the game, making sure that there was no doubt for those out on the field that the game and the result meant something. Overall of course, this result is just a mark on the ledger, a soon to be forgotten triumph in a season that included far too many defeats at their Galway venue.

If all that wasn’t strange enough, all the scoring happened in the first half. Connacht notched four tries, the Ospreys managed three yet it was the second half that proved to be the most compelling and captivating as the visitors from Wales came up against a brick wall. Connacht’s tackling was superb while their maul defence proved to be critical. The visitors had arrived needing and expecting to get a bonus point win to stay in contention for a place in the Rainbow Cup final, but would leave shell shocked.

The Rainbow Cup as a competition has predictably turned out to be a disaster for the PRO14 organisers. While there has been some misfortune with late season postponements because of Covid and the South African sides have been limited on travel, the format of a straight league with teams playing six fixtures was never going to inspire enthusiasm or create a fair and balanced tournament. As it stands, Benetton might get to the final without having to play any of the top six sides.

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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