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St Michael’s and Corofin clash in Tuam Stadium on Sunday in County Final

Francis Farragher

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Strange things have happened in sport . . . Munster beat the All-Blacks in 1978; non-league Hereford United knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972; and in 1990 one Buster Douglas ‘stretched’ an unbackable Mike Tyson in Tokyo. . . but if St Michael’s topple Corofin in Sunday’s county final, it will be the local equivalent of those great sporting moments.

For Sunday’s senior football county final showdown between Corofin and St Michael’s at Tuam Stadium (4pm), the bookies are at least ‘taking money’, but it will take a hard earned 12 ‘grand’ to pull in a thousand profit on the hottest ever favourites for a Galway decider.

Finals though are always there to be won and St Michael’s will be hoping that the build-up to this county final will be an ideal ‘cover’ for them to make a serious bid for a first ever senior title. Most neutrals consider the final a ‘done deal’ before a ball is kicked, and in its own way that will bother Corofin and rankle with St Michael’s, in equal measure.

Corofin powered their way to this year’s final with margins of victory ranging from six to 24 points, and their 4-14 to 0-2 semi-final demolition of Milltown made up the minds of most people that the fate of this year’s championship had been decided.

Mountbellew-Moylough (twice) and Tuam Stars had been wiped out in previous rounds by the all-round power and integrated style of a Corofin side where players can seamlessly slip in and out of different positions. There is never a ‘one player’ to be marked . . . it’s a system that has to be taken on.

Corofin do have their ‘troubles’ in the run-up to Sunday’s final with influential forward Justin Burke ruled out with a knee ligament injury suffered in the first half of the Milltown semi-final.

It’s typical of the strength in depth of the Corofin panel that outstanding county U-21 forward of recent years Ian Burke, and brother of Justin, is now poised to fill that gap in the county champions attack. (There’s even strength of depth present in the one house!).

Corofin will also be without Gary Delaney (injured) and Padraig Kelly (honeymoon), while Greg Higgins is rated a doubt, so Corofin manager Stephen Rochford, and his selectors will have quite a few personnel issues to sort out over the next night or two when they sit down to pick their first fifteen.

St. Michael’s seem set to make very few, if any, changes from the side that defeated Barna by 0-9 to 0-7 after a very tight replay in Moycullen last Sunday.

Their big loss is inspirational full back Alan Glynn, who suffered serious internal injuries in the drawn game against Barna that will keep him out of the game until next season, while also out of action is corner back Eoghan Tummon.

The return of Neil Grogan to midfield for the Barna replay represented a considerable boost, allowing David Cunnane to slot back in the full back role to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Glynn.

St Michael’s, though, found scores hard to come by in both Barna matches with Eamon O’Donnell and Eddie Hoare presenting their main threats – the city club will know full well that they’ll need a 100% improvement in their strike rate if they’re to trouble Corofin.

John Kenny, manager of St Michael’s, told Tribune Sport that while reaching a first ever county final was a great achievement for the club, it was by no means an end to itself.

“I suppose we all know full well what a footballing force that Corofin are, and unless we go to Tuam on Sunday fully focussed and committed, we know what’s in store for us.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Inconsistent Connacht men slip up badly on home turf

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Connacht’s Gavin Thornbury closes in on Dane Blacket of Scarlets during Saturday's PRO14 encounter at the Sportsground. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht 14

Scarlets 20

Rob Murphy at the Sportsground

CONNACHT stormed to the top of the inconsistency table on Sunday with a performance so at odds with what they produced on their previous outing that it felt like a new team, a different world. Their propensity to go from magic to mediocre from one game to the next has supporters scratching their heads but more notably, it has the team themselves wholly perplexed.

The demeanour of Andy Friend and Paul Boyle in the post game press conference and the look on the face of Paddy McAllister as he trudged off the field told a tale of befuddlement. There was no hiding in the rain and the wind at the Sportsground on Saturday night, no excuses either, the visiting Scarlets had arrived in town without a dozen front liners and with no form to speak. Yet they left a stormy Galway with a valuable victory.

In one short and disrupted season, Connacht have managed to produce two headline grabbing victories over Glasgow and Edinburgh and two of their worst performances in years against Cardiff and now here against the Scarlets. Just when you think you have a handle on how they are shaping up for season ahead, they pull out the spanner and head straight for the works.

Afterwards, Friend candidly admitted that he had rarely seen his side “out enthused” in the way that they were before half-time. He was right to contrast that with a second half improvement. There is no doubting that had they shown even a tiny inkling of composure in attack during the wind assisted second half, they would have won this game.

However, in a second half of constant pressure, Connacht lost control of the ball going over the try line on three separate occasions on an evening of mishaps and calamity, so even the improved energy levels weren’t enough against a spirited and fired up Scarlets side that had notched two brilliant first half tries to lead by six at the break, and added a counter attacking third after half time that proved critical.

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

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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 look to bounce back from poor defeat

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Connacht’s Gavin Thornbury tries to charge down the clearing kick of Scarlets' Dane Blacket in the Sportsground last weekend. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

By JOHN FALLON

One of the mantras of Andy Friend since he arrived in the Sportsground over two years ago is the need for everyone to be versatile and step into the breach when required, but forwards coach Jimmy Duffy paid a big price for enthusiastically embracing that challenge in training.

The 43-years-old former Connacht lock not only decided to wind back the clock to his own playing days, but also opted for a positional switch to scrum-half. As a result, he has been hobbling around on crutches for the last week waiting a scan to show if it was a nerve or something else he damaged in his back.

Connacht may be light on locks at the minute through injuries and with Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux in Irish camp, but they were also down numbers at scrum-half last week with Kieran Marmion on international duty and Caolin Blade injured.

That’s when Duffy decided to step into the fray in training – and he has been paying the price since.

“I was probably thinking I was 23 rather than 43,” said Duffy. “I jumped in a session to make up the numbers for one of the drills, just to facilitate the exercise and I thought I could play nine! I learned my lesson.”

Duffy and the Connacht management will be hoping that will be the extent of the freakish injuries as they continue a hectic schedule which sees them head to Parma this Sunday (2.30pm Irish time) for a sequence of matches which will continue for 10 more games to the end of January.

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

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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

Five players exit United as Caulfield sets out his stall for ’21

Keith Kelly

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Headford's Padraic Cunningham who has rejoined Galway United in new manager John

THE departure of five more players from Galway United has been confirmed – while the return of a man who scored 16 goals for the club in a previous four-season stint at the club has also been announced – as John Caulfield continues to mould the squad he inherited from Alan Murphy into his own design.

Vinny Faherty had already announced his retirement from senior football on Monday of last week, and that news has been followed by the confirmation that Jack Lynch, Conor Barry, Josh Smith, Timo Partheons, and Joe Collins will not be part of the squad for next season.

Lynch did take to Twitter last week saying that a combination of work circumstances and the new training schedule for United means he won’t be returning to the Tribesmen next season.

It is something similar for Barry, who also took to Twitter saying that as he “won’t be living in Galway in the New Year, it logistically wouldn’t work”.

That quintet have had varying experiences at United, from Barry making 77 appearances over five different seasons at the club; to Smith playing just twice this season before his year was ended due to injury.

Caulfield wished the players well in what was a brief statement from the club confirming their departures.

“Since I’ve come to the club, the lads have been fantastic, and they’re all moving on for various reasons. I’d like to thank them all and wish them well in their future careers,” he said.

Barry joined United in 2014, making three appearances under Tommy Dunne in the club’s first season back in the league. He made a further four appearances in 2015 before leaving the club.

He returned in 2018 under Shane Keegan – who was also manager in 2016, when Barry departed – and enjoyed his most successful season in the maroon jersey, scoring 11 goals in 30 league and cup appearances.

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

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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