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Seasoned Portumna can fend off Gort in long-delayed decider

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Rival sharpshooters Gort's Richie Cummins and Portumna's Joe Canning who will be expected to make a big impact in Sunday's county hurling final.

IT may not be a Tale of Two Cities but the clash of All-Ireland champions Portumna and 2011 county final winners Gort does pit two towns and clubs against each other that, having spent their fair share of time in the wilderness of senior hurling, have sought to re-write the record books in recent years.

It’s incredible to think, particularly given all they have achieved over the last decade or so, that prior to their county final victory in 2003, Portumna had never won a senior championship and, indeed, had only one intermediate (1992) and two junior ‘A’ crowns (1914 & 1982) to prop up their roll of honour.

However, with six county and four All-Ireland club titles stashed safely under their belt over the last 12 years, Portumna certainly have made up on lost ground. Unbeaten since their group defeat to Clarinbridge last Summer, they are strong favourites to collect the county silverware again this Sunday.

As for Gort, they also have six county titles to their name. They won their first three in 1914, 1916 and 1934 but, amazingly, they would not lift the Cup again for another 47 years until the class of 1981 accounted for Kiltormer after a replay. They followed this up with a fifth title triumph in 1983.

However, it would be another 25 years until Gort would make a county senior final appearance in 2008, when they were defeated by Portumna 1-18 to 2-7, and another three years before they hoisted the Tom Callanan Cup with success over Clarinbridge in 2011.

Obviously, victory for Portumna or Gort will take their respective senior title haul to seven – same as the great Peterswell club of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – and leave the winner just one county triumph behind Athenry, Turloughmore and Liam Mellows, all on eight. Castlegar (17) and Ardrahan (11) head up the honours list.

While Portumna and Gort have been prominent contenders since the turn of the millennium, the two have only met four times in the championship in the last 10 years, with Portumna winning all four meetings. In 2004, Portumna recorded a 4-18 to 1-10 win in the group stages before defeating Gort 0-18 to 1-12 in the 2005 semi-final.

Three years later, both clubs clashed in the county showpiece – Portumna outscoring Gort by 1-8 to 0-3 in the second half of that decider to win on a 1-18 to 2-7 scoreline. The following season, the All-Ireland champions backed this up with a 4-14 to 6-5 win in a surreal county semi-final on route to winning the title.

In many respects, it is hard to believe both have avoided each other in the championship over the past five years. Each have won a county title – Gort (2011) and Portumna (2013) – but, by the same token, they have often fell short on a number of other occasions.

Gort failed to make the knockout stages in 2010 and 2013 while Portumna lost a semi-final replay to Loughrea in 2010 and two subsequent quarter-finals to St. Thomas’ and Turloughmore in 2011 and 2012.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht swing into action against Cardiff in expanded league structure

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Injured scrum half Caolin Blade who will miss Connacht's opening game in the new United Rugby Championship away to Cardiff on Friday night.

By Rob Murphy

RUGBY is back this weekend as Connacht make their debut in a brand new expanded competition. The United Rugby Championship has replaced the old PRO14 with the top four South African sides joining the teams from Ireland Scotland, Wales and Italy in a  new look 16 team tournament.

Over the next seven months, Andy Friend’s men will play 18 games as they look to secure one of the eight play off places up for grabs.

On Friday Connacht will begin their campaign in Wales where they’ll take on Cardiff at the Arms Park (7:35) for an important opening day fixture. With a number of difficult inter-provincials tussles on the horizon, a good start is badly needed.

On Wednesday, Connacht Rugby announced that they were moving their October 23 fixture with Ulster to the Aviva Stadium to mark the lifting of restrictions throughout the country for crowds at live events. The stand alone fixture will be a huge opportunity for the organisation to showcase the provincial team to a wide audience and they are hoping that Connacht fans will travel east in big numbers to watch their side play in the national stadium.

It will be the second time in a little over a year that Connacht have played at the venue having faced the same opponents there last August at a time when crowds weren’t permitted, You have to go back to 1986 for the previous appearance at the Dublin 4 venue. Forgoing home advantage for a league fixture looks like a risk worth taking as the novel event should generate a lot of interest among rugby fans who have waited over 18 months to watch their side play live.

While there is scope for a full house in Wales this Friday, Connacht’s opening home fixture against the Bulls the following Friday and their clash with the Dragons in Galway and Munster in Limerick later in the month will all fall under the current fifty percent capacity restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, so this is why that the Ulster fixture in Dublin will be a watershed moment for the campaign.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Moran’s late fortuitous goal leaves Salthill men stunned

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Monivea-Abbey's Caelom Mulry gets to the ball ahead of Tom Considine of Salthill/Knocknacarra during Saturday's senior football championship tie at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Monivea-Abbey 1-10

Salthill-Knocknacarra 0-10

Gerard Mulreaney at Kenny Park

THEY say that fortune favours the brave, and that was certainly evident at a very wet Kenny Park, Athenry on Saturday afternoon

A brave performance from Monivea-Abbey, full of heart, grit and determination, saw them produce the shock of the weekend when they upset Salthill-Knocknacarra in a dramatic ending to this senior championship game.

Three points down at the second water break, Monivea-Abbey came storming back in the last quarter, scoring a goal and two points without reply to take the victory and give themselves an outside chance of reaching the quarter finals.

Both sides came into this must-win encounter on the back of opening round defeats, Monivea-Abbey losing to Oughterard while Salthill-Knocknacarra surprisingly came unstuck in their opener to Caherlistrane.

Salthill-Knocknacarra were first off the mark in the second minute when Robert Finnerty found Tomo Culhane who popped his effort over the bar.

Culhane then missed a golden opportunity to score the opening goal just a minute later. He was played in by the industrious John Maher, but the teeneger ended up rushing his shot, and the ball went agonisingly wide.

Monivea-Abbey, who were missing both Cillian McDaid and Cathal Cooley due to injury, hit back when Lee Kenny was fouled by William Finnerty and Brian Moran scored the resulting free kick.

Another goal chance went abegging for Salthill/Knocknacarra on nine minutes when centre-forward Evan Murphy ran in unopposed along the end line, but his shot was straight at Denis Farragher in the Monivea-Abbey goal.

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.

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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

Butler hopes fans will back move to switch home game

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Jarrad Butler looks on as Caolin Blade looks to break through the Ulster ranks in the PRO14 meeting between the sides in the Sportsground back in December. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

By JOHN FALLON

Connacht skipper Jarrad Butler said the players are looking forward to taking on Ulster at the Aviva Stadium next month when they hope to attract the biggest crowd to attend a rugby match in Ireland in over a year and a half.

With crowd restrictions due to be lifted by the Government just prior to the derby clash against Ulster on Saturday, 23 October, Connacht hope that a crowd of around 30,000 can be achieved for the fixture in the United Rugby Championship.

At present Connacht are restricted to crowds of around 3,000 at the Sportsground and even if all restrictions are lifted, the capacity of the stadium on College Road is limited to just over 8,000.

Coach Andy Friend and club captain Butler have given the decision their full backing, with Connacht consulting with their supporters’ club before deciding to switch the match to Dublin.

Connacht beat Ulster 26-20 behind closed doors there in August last year when competitive rugby restarted in the pandemic, and Butler said players were excited about going back there.

“It is different. We had success at the Aviva against Ulster last year and that was without fans. I think there is an excitement to go back there and, hopefully, be able to play there in front of a lot more Connacht fans than would probably be at the Sportsground.

“The Aviva is one of the best in the country and I think everyone is excited to get the opportunity to play there. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives playing there.

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.

 

Continue Reading

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