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Stirring Connacht comeback fails to mask early strife

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Connacht 32

Glasgow 33

A four try second half blitz saved some blushes, but failed to rescue a victory for Connacht in the Guinness Pro12 in Glasgow on Friday night. Against a severely understrength Warriors side, Pat Lam’s men dug themselves into a seemingly hopeless position by the 50 minute mark before launching a fightback for the ages.

The harsh reality however cannot be ignored. Connacht were unable to garner a win away to a Glasgow side missing 20 first choice players to the World Cup and carrying more than a few part time squad members in the game. By the end, Glasgow had a flanker in the centre and two under 20s in their tight five. They somehow survived.

The reason for Glasgow’s win was their display in the second quarter where they turned a 6-3 lead into a 23-6 half-time advantage. Two tries and plenty of sustained pressure did the damage as Connacht failed to cope with some questionable calls going against them during the period. Glasgow were better at retaining possession, more clinical and less error strewn.

After half time, it got worse for Connacht. An attempted clearance kick from scrum half John Cooney on his own 22 metre line went awry when he received position off the line out, only to slip in the process of trying to launch the clearance kick. As he lay flat on the ground, Glasgow’s Rob Harley picked up possession and cantered home for the easiest of scores to stretch the home side’s lead to 30-3.

The recriminations were looking very real for a Connacht side not far off full strength. They were heading for a drubbing of serious proportions and appeared to be both rudderless and devoid of confidence. Yet somehow the Westerners found some inspiration and began a hair-raising fightback.

Of the starting line up, Eoghan Masterson stood out, throughout the game. Even during the worst moments for his team, the number eight was one of the few to excel and it was no co-incidence that his break off the back of a monster scrum against the head sparked the Connacht fightback and the first try finished off by John Cooney.

Soon after that score, Kieran Marmion made an entrance and the replacement was another key reason why Connacht were able to wrestle control of the contest from a now tiring Glasgow side, stretched to breaking point by some key injuries either side of half-time.

Dominance at scrum time certainly helped Connacht with Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You to the fore as Glasgow struggled to compete. The penalty try they conceded on the hour mark underlined as much and marked a full turning point in momentum for the visitors as they moved to within ten points.

It soon got better as another scrum once again proved the launching pad for a try, this time on half way with centre Rory Parata timing a grubber kick into the 22 perfectly for Danie Poolman to run onto and score. The conversion hit the post but the margin was now five points.

Crucially, Connacht failed to maintain the momentum in the intervening minutes and Glasgow’s Rory Clegg capped off a good period of home pressure with a penalty to stretch the lead by to eight after his team had been unlucky to have a try ruled out by the television match official.

Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Big boost for Connacht as dozen make Irish squads

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Former Galway minor hurler Shane Jennings who is one of six Connacht players named on the Irish U20 rugby squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

By Rob Murphy

THERE was some off season good news for Connacht this week with confirmation of 12 players from the Sportsground having made it into international squads at senior and U-20 level.

Six Connacht players were called into Andy Farrell’s 37-man senior international squad for next month’s two tests against Japan and USA. Three of those are looking to make their international debut in Tom Daly, Paul Boyle and Caolin Blade; while three more are looking to continue their progress with the Irish squad in Dave Heffernan (5 caps), Ultan Dillane (18 caps) and Finlay Bealham (14 caps).

For Daly, the progress from fringe starter to captaining Connacht has been a rapid one. The 27-years-old inside centre from Carlow is now a key part of Andy Friend’s plans having led the way in starts this season and his consistent form has clearly caught the eye of Farrell too, with the recent stand-out effort in the win over Munster at Thomond Park no doubt a key factor.

At 24, Boyle has already amassed 57 appearances in the green of Connacht having made his debut in 2017. He also has captained Connacht on multiple occasions and while he missed some of the end of season Rainbow Cup games, the Gorey native was a consistent almost ever present part of the back row during the PRO14 campaign.

Monivea man Blade is back in Ireland camp for the second season in a row and will hope to get his first cap this time around. The 27-years-old is being rewarded for another excellent season in the nine shirt for Connacht where he led the team in starts at scrum half and scored five tries in 20 appearances.

Ireland will play two games in the Aviva Stadium next month starting with a clash against Japan on July 3 before they host USA on July 10.

The Irish U-20s will be involved in Six Nations action, starting tomorrow against Scotland with the month-long tournament taking place entirely in Cardiff to help guarantee a safe environment for players.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway surrender top flight status after Clones collapse

Stephen Glennon

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Galway’s Robert Finnerty who scored 1-3 in their costly National League relegation play-off defeat to Monaghan in Clones on Sunday.

Monaghan 1-21

Galway 2-17

(After Extra-Time)

NO thermometer was required to take the temperature of those hundred or so die-hard Galway supporters who travelled to Clones last Sunday. With their side five points to the good and time almost up, they watched on in horror as a winning lead was blown.

The result: Galway beaten. The result: Galway are no longer a Division 1 county. The result: Galway now have just won one game in their last seven competitive outings. The result: Galway have gone from a side on the brink of something in spring of 2020 to an outfit that has regressed and have now been cast back to the land of mediocrity.

That Galway boss Padraic Joyce didn’t make himself available to the media afterwards to put some positive spin on the performance only compounded the result. By not offering some take, he left a dangerous void in which disgruntled supporters have begun to weave their own narrative about where Joyce’s Galway are at.

Ironically, with time almost up in Clones, it appeared the Tribesmen had turned the corner after a poor run of form. First half goals from Paul Kelly and Rob Finnerty saw Galway lead this thrilling relegation game by five points going down the home stretch, but in the five minutes plus of normal time injury-time, they came undone.

In hindsight, hauling off Galway’s two best forwards – Robert Finnerty and Shane Walsh (although he was nowhere near his best) – was a mistake as it not only blunted the point of attack but deprived it of the guile and experience that they needed to see this game out.

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.

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.

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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

Galway U20s set to make up for lost time in delayed final

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Conor Walsh who is a key member of the Galway U20 hurling team seeking Leinster final glory when they take on Dublin next Wednesday.

GALWAY’S U20 hurlers have a number of injury concerns ahead of their long overdue 2020 Leinster final clash against Dublin at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, next Wednesday evening, June 23. Throw-in 7:30pm.

Among them are Sarsfields midfielder Alex Connaire and Craughwell wing-forward Adrian Prendergast, both of whom scored in the Tribesmen’s victories over Laois and Kilkenny last December, but they now look set to miss the provincial decider with groin and pelvis injuries respectively.

“This game is just too early for them, it has just come too quick,” says Galway manager Jeffrey Lynskey, who says Connaire and Prendergast join an injury list that also includes long-term victims Mark Gill of Castlegar (metatarsal) and Conor Hynes of Liam Mellows (shoulder).

“We are lucky enough though that we have depth in the squad and can pull on lads who are performing and doing well (in training). They have trained well, in fairness to them, over the last five weeks.”

Indeed, Lynskey says the form is good in the camp, outlining the focus has been getting the players back up to speed with in-house and challenges games against the Galway development panel.

“In all the in-house and challenge games, they have performed really well. They are all looking forward to getting back. They have trained hard, really, over the last five weeks and they put a serious bloc of work in during the third lockdown. Gym-wise, they all came back in fantastic shape.

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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