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Sunday to tell if the tide is really turning for Galway

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The Claregalway U13 Soccer soccer team which won the gold medal in the Connacht Community Games finals.Back row, left to right: Paul Brennan (Manager), Calum Brennan, Gavin Lee, Robert Timmons, Pabyn Phiffer, Michael Cotter, Alex Haugh, Shane Martin (selecter). Front row: Brian Shannon, Mike Donoghue, Adam Whyte, Christy Brennan, Ben Lavelle, Liam Lean.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

It was one of the blackest days in the history of Galway football – a record-equalling 17-point defeat to arch provincial rivals Mayo; two players sent off; and it all happened on home soil. It was May, 2013, in front of a crowd of over 16,000 at Pearse Stadium and there was no place to hide for manager Alan Mulholland and his players after a traumatic and demoralising Connacht semi-final.

Taking the match at face value, you’d imagine that Galway’s short term future as a footballing force was a write off but, within a couple of months, they were scaring the lives out of Cork in Croke Park. Some pride had been restored with a few more All-Ireland winning U-21s being bloodied as the men in maroon stopped the rot and gave supporters tangible hope that better days might be ahead.

However, 2014 was a slow-burner with more hardship being experienced by the Galway camp. Losing to Leitrim in the FBD League was deflating, but arguably even worse was a Division Two league thumping from Laois. Further bad news was the retirement of Michael Meehan from inter-county football as the Tribesmen struggled to avoid the genuine threat of relegation to the backwoods of Division Three.

In the end, Galway steadied as the league campaign progressed, highlighted by a morale-boosting home win over Down and pushing Ulster champions Monaghan all the way in their final Division Two outing in Clones. Nobody was viewing them as serious championship contenders but, at least, they had toughed out a difficult spring and a couple of their younger brigade were beginning to find their feet at this level.

Still, there was no great confidence behind them heading to Ruislip for their Connacht championship opener against last year’s surprise provincial finalists London, with a minority of fans even fearful that the unthinkable might happen – a victory for the exiles – but Galway flew out of the blocks and though the home resistance was awful, they galloped to a big win in setting up a semi-final clash with Sligo last month.

If only on the basis of the counties’ three previous championship meetings – with Galway winning none of them – it represented a serious enough test of Mulholland’s men, especially at Markievicz Park, and though it wasn’t until the second half that they pulled clear of Sligo, the visitors had a significant superiority in class and pace with Shane Walsh, Danny Cummins, Fiontán Ó Curraoin and Thomas Flynn winning most of the individual plaudits.

In the build up to that game, St. James’ pair Johnny Duane and Eoin Concannon were released from the panel for off-field indiscipline, but Galway readily put that controversy behind them in setting up a final date with Mayo. For their part, the champions received something of a reality check in unimpressively fending off Roscommon’s spirited challenge at Hyde Park even if, in retrospect, it was the perfect outcome for James Horan’s charges – not playing particularly well, but still getting the result.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

O’Keeffe says season’s goal of winning promotion remains very much in United’s sights

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Conor O’Keeffe in action against Cobh Ramblers FC earlier this season. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United full-back Conor O’Keeffe insists there is no talk in the camp about the upcoming promotion play-offs, with all the focus each week being on the next game up for the side rather than the battle to join champions-elect Shelbourne in the top-flight next season.

A scoreless draw at home to Treaty United last weekend, coupled with a 2-0 win for Shelbourne away to Cork City, means the Dublin side has moved 10 points ahead of United at the top of the table with five games remaining.

Having lost just once all season – a defeat which was inflicted by United – the Tolka Park side are unlikely to let that 10-point lead slip, meaning that United’s hopes of promotion will rest with the play-offs.

O’Keeffe, who turns 28 on Sunday, says that promotion remains the goal of the squad, and that is the focus, not on the route that will be needed to secure that.

“We are taking things one game at a time, if you look beyond that, you forget to do that’s in front of you, so we are not even looking at the playoffs, you have to show up for each game.

“You have to take it just game by game, if you look farther ahead, you get a little carried away and you lose focus, and you just have to keep going.

“We just need to finish as high up the table as we can, anything can happen, it is a funny game at times, football, we have just got to believe – if you don’t believe there is no point, our goal is to get promoted and we still believe we can do that,” O’Keeffe says.

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.

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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

Favourites all advance with ease in the FAI Junior Cup

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Athenry's Seán O'Callaghan heads in his side's second goal despite the best efforts of Paddy Gannon and Shane Trill. Photo: Kennedy-Beirne/Eirefoto.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

It might only have been the preliminary round of the FAI Junior Cup, but for certain teams with ambitions, it was hopefully the start of a long trail towards ultimate success, and the four fancied sides all advanced from their games with various degrees of comfort last weekend.

In the only all Premier Division clash, James Ryan secured the match winner as West United saw off St Bernard’s 1-0 in South Park. It was Ryan again who went closest to a second, but his effort on this occasion was thwarted by the woodwork. The victory sets them up for a First Round contest against Tuam Celtic on the last weekend of the month.

Hibernians were 3-2 winners over Dynamo Blues in Bohermore as Shane Hulgraine, Nathan Ward (striker) and an own goal were enough to see off the Tuam side for whom Alex Schmitt scored twice.

Scoreless at the break, Colga did all the damage against Bohemians on the resumption as they ran out 4-0 winners with Neil Greaney (3) and Colm McDonagh sharing the goals – Colga and Hibernians meet in the next round.

As to be expected Athenry were the most comfortable winners of the day as they defeated Renmore 6-0 with three goals coming in each-half. New central defender, Sean O’Callaghan, scored his first goals for the club as he notched a brace, while Adam Duffy, Declan Cullen, Colm O’Donovan and Garvan Broughall were also all on the mark as they set up a neighbourly contest with Corofin United.

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

Galway United nearly there but scope for improvement

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Galway United's Joe Gorman on the ball against Kieran Hanlon of Treaty United FC during Friday night's First Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 0

Treaty United 0

A contest between two evenly-matched teams finished in stalemate on Friday night, nudging both sides closer to the play-offs, but leaving neither in doubt that major improvement is needed if they are to escape the doldrums of the First Division.

United shaded things in the first-half, with the visitors being the marginally better side for much of the second until they were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of former United man, Marc Ludden.

Already providing a stubborn and frustrating resistance to their hosts, Treaty dug in even further following that 73rd minute red card, and with United struggling to find their mojo of late, the game petered out into that predictable scoreless draw.

The league takes another break this weekend with the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup taking centre stage, giving the United camp some additional time to find that spark that has been missing for the past three games following that stirring 3-1 win over Shelbourne in mid-August.

With free-scoring UCD up next for United, that additional time needs to be well spent for, while United are almost assured of the play-offs, they have serious work to do to if they are to take confidence and momentum into those play-offs, and the visit of the Students to the Dyke Road on Friday week will really test the home side.

John Caulfield made two changes to the team which beat Cabinteely the previous week, with Luke Dennison coming in for the suspended Conor Kearns in goals, while Stephen Walsh replaced Alex Murphy at left-back.

The game was preceded by a thunderous minute’s applause from both home and away fans for the late Sam Oji, a man who graced the jersey of both Galway United and of Treaty United’s predecessor, Limerick FC, who died suddenly last month from cancer at the age of just 35.

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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