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Talking Sport

Teenage trio getting their kicks from love of karate

Stephen Glennon

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Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

Three Galway teenagers from West Karate Club are to represent Ireland at the World Karate Championships in Bulgaria in July and, according to their chief instructor, their involvement in the prestigious international event marks a major milestone for the club.

Johnathan Larder (19), Rebecca Palmer (18) and Craig Dempsey (19) have been selected to participate in the Championships in Bulgaria and their proud chief instructor and mentor Brendan O’Flaherty says this is a significant achievement for a club that was only set up in September 2009. Prior to that, O’Flaherty and the trio worked out of another dojo.

O’Flaherty says West Karate Club started from “very humble beginnings” four years ago but from catering for between 15 to 20 students, it now boasts of 60 plus students in the club today.

“Our club really has gone from strength to strength,” continues the Claddagh native, who has been practising karate for 27 years. “When we go to a competition, we never think about winning or losing. We just think about competing. I always maintain that if you can do your best – regardless of the outcome – your best should always be good enough. You can’t ask for anymore. We are very lucky as well that we have got a lot of great kids in. They are very talented.”

Of course, the three by his side – Larder, Palmer and Dempsey – are the pick of the bunch. Both Larder and Palmer are Second Dan black belts, while Dempsey is expected to graduate to that grade in 2014.

“They are very young but their grades are very high,” says their coach. “What we do in our club is we don’t put pressure on people. We never, ever put pressure on people. If you want to go to a competition, you are welcome to come. If you are going to a competition, though, we tell our students to forget about winning. Just go and enjoy it. Perform to the best of your ability.”

Certainly, this approach has worked, with West Karate Club dominating the team kata event in their age group in the country for the last decade while Larder, Palmer and Dempsey have also claimed All-Ireland senior kata honours.

At the moment, the youngest in the club is just five while the oldest would be in their early 20s, although the club does run a class for more mature people – those who may have been engaged in a sport some years ago and are now looking for something to fill the void – on Saturday afternoons.

This is just one initiative the club has explored. Another has been the introduction of wheelchair karate in 2011. This has proved to be very successful and, indeed, among those to bring honour and glory to the club have been Dylan McLoughlin, Stephen Timothy and Shane Curran, who all have claimed victories at the Irish Open Shotokan Championships.

All these classes make for a busy schedule, with the wheelchair users training on Tuesdays (6.30pm to 7.30pm) at Ballybane Community Centre and the rest attending classes on Fridays (6.30pm to 7.30pm and 7.30 to 9.30pm) and Saturdays (11.30am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 3pm) at the Connacht Hotel.

One of those classes O’Flaherty enjoys is the 6.30pm on Friday when he puts the five to eight year olds through their paces. “I have already graded them and they are there every Friday. If we can hold onto them, they will be good,” he beams.

Meanwhile, O’Flaherty explains the prospect of Larder, Palmer and Dempsey heading to the World Championship was first touted by Irish chief instructor, Brian Twomey, at a competition in Kilkenny earlier in the year.

“We had won the team event and he came over to us and said to us ‘you have to start to take these competitions seriously if you are going to go to the World Championships’. Sure, all we started to do was laugh,” recalls O’Flaherty, dismissing the suggestion at the time.

“However, we then went to the All-Irelands and we won the team kata – we won it by a mile. So, he came to us again and said ‘look it, you are picked for the (World) Championships, you have to go’. So, we said ‘fair enough’. If the chief instructor thinks we are good enough to go, then why shouldn’t we?”

Since then, the trio have trained almost every day – sometimes twice or three times in the day – and have made adjustments in all areas of their lives, including nutrition.

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

Connacht Tribune

Connacht raise the roof again with magnificent late heroics

John McIntyre

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Claregalway's Dara Whelan, Conor Flaherty, Barry Callanan and Dylan Buckley with the Padraig Stephens Cup after their County U20 A Football Final victory over Salthill-Knocknacarra at Duggan Park on Saturday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE dramatic finale at the Sportsground on Saturday ought to have made the RTE Six One News sporting headlines, but there wasn’t a mention of Connacht’s extraordinary late heroics against Gloucester which keeps the province’s hopes of reaching the European Champions Cup quarter-finals alive.

Instead, the rugby spotlight was on Munster’s away defeat to champions Saracens. Later during the sports segment on the Six One News, Connacht’s never-say-die comeback was relegated to the last match of the Champions Cup wrap up. RTE, in their wisdom, believed that Munster’s 15-6 loss and Leinster’s routing of a makeshift Northampton on the same day were somehow more meritorious.

If Leinster or Munster had achieved what Connacht did in the latest round of European pool matches, can you imagine how gushing RTE’s coverage would have been? When a Tipperary man with a strong GAA background starts taking offence over Connacht not getting the coverage they are entitled to, it does give an insight into why rugby in the West feels hard done by in terms of national acclaim.

For all that, last Saturday was another thumping experience on College Road. With their European Championship knock-out ambitions on the line, it was victory or bust for Caolin Blade and company. But when Connacht trailed by 24-13 with less than six minutes remaining, it was impossible to see how they could salvage a result.

A pragmatic Gloucester already had the four-try bonus point in the bag. They may have trailed 10-7 at the break having faced the elements, but  tries from Mark Atkinson (two) and captain Lewis Ludlow turned the game on its head. Connacht were remaining competitive but the breaks were going the way of a team they had never previously beaten.

The home fans in the crowd of 6,800 were understandably resigned to the worst. The yellow carding of Ludlow for a deliberate knock on meant Gloucester were reduced to 14 for the closing minutes, but nobody at the Sportsground thought much of it. Connacht were 11 points behind with time running out. They needed a miracle.

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Connacht Tribune

Being backed into a corner could help to ignite the Galway hurlers

John McIntyre

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Galway full back Daithí Burke giving Wexford's Paul Morris no quarter during Sunday's Leinster hurling championship clash at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

MICHEÁL Donoghue faces the biggest challenge of his management career so far after Galway’s latest subdued display of 2019 at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. A lot of the same personnel are still there from the team’s magnificent All-Ireland triumph of two years, but the form of a number of influential players has nose-dived since last September’s championship loss to Limerick.

After a late collapse against Waterford in the National League quarter-final, Galway had some questions to answer ahead of their Leinster campaign and not withstanding their significant injury problems over the past few months, the Tribesmen’s stock has continued to decline judging by this month’s displays against both Carlow and Wexford.

Though it’s far from a full-blown crisis and we must keep a sense of perspective, there’s no point being wise after the event. On the evidence of what have seen to date this summer, Galway are dicing with an unexpected premature exit from the championship unless the squad can rediscover the hunger, intensity and quality which characterised many of their performances in 2017.

The continued absence of Joe Canning – and it is a mighty blow – can’t explain everything. Sure, Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Jonathan Glynn, Adrian Tuohey and John Hanbury, an important introduction against Wexford, remain short of competitive action, but as a package, Galway should still be better than this.

Failing to find the net against either Carlow or Wexford, together with the lack of fluency and sharpness, has some local alarm bells ringing, leaving the team management with plenty to ponder on ahead of Sunday week’s big collision with Kilkenny. Lose that and Galway’s season will hang on getting a result at Parnell Park – an unforgiving venue at the best of times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

St Thomas’ man behind the scenes typifies why club is going so strong

Stephen Glennon

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The St. Thomas' management celebrate after their county SHC final victory over Liam Mellows. Left to right: Kenneth Larkin, Claude Geoghegan, Kevin Lally and TJ Ryan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

WHAT was meant to be a few minutes of soundbite ahead of St. Thomas’ All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final clash against Cushendall on Saturday has metamorphosed into a full-scale Talking Sport interview. Simply, because, Claude Geoghegan is an interesting guy.

For the past decade, Geoghegan has been the man behind the scenes and in his own inimitable way he has contributed just as much to St. Thomas’s success story as anybody else in Kilchreest and Peterswell. Perhaps, even more so.

As club secretary, he presided over St. Thomas’ historic county and All-Ireland club victories in the 2012/2013 season while, in the past three years, he has served as selector under managers John Burke and Kevin Lally, winning a county senior crown with each in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is a proud record.

“I have held a few positions alright over the best part of a decade now — four or five years as secretary — and this is my third year involved now with the senior team. It is a way of life, I suppose, more than anything else,” begins the 31-year-old.

“When you are from a rural locality, it is what you are brought up with. It is what you know. If I wasn’t involved in the club in some capacity, I would feel I had a bit too much spare time on my hands. I would feel a bit odd without it, being honest.”

A history teacher at Presentation College, Athenry, Geoghegan explains his family are steeped in GAA tradition. His father Seamus hurled with the club before managing the intermediate team, as it was back then, while his older brother James has also done his duty as club secretary.

“Also, when the club amalgamated in 1968, my father was on the U14 team that won the county championship that year. We actually haven’t won the ‘A’ championship at U14 since. We have won plenty, but not that.”

Indeed, three SHC county titles in the last seven years would suggest that St. Thomas’ is a very special club but Geoghegan argues they are no different to any of the other clubs around. “Every other club is putting in the time that we are putting in. We are not special in any way in comparison to anyone else but we are incredibly fortunate to have a special group of players who have come together at one time.”

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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