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From the terraces to centre of action in space of a year

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St. Michael's Eddie Hoare who has left his injury troubles behind him and is looking forward to lining out against Mayo in Sunday's Connacht final.

EDDIE Hoare watched from the terraces as Galway were walloped by Mayo in the Connacht senior football semi-final at Pearse Stadium last May.

Like all other Galway fans in Salthill, the city man was saddened by the scale of the 4-16 to 0-11 record defeat. But unlike most supporters, Hoare could truly empathise with how the Galway players and management were aching.

After all, the St Michael’s clubman from Circular Road, Bushypark, had soldiered with many of them during stints with the county set-up at senior and underage. He felt the hurt, too.

“Having been team-mates with a lot of the lads, I understood the hurt that was going through them . . . how I felt as a Galway supporter was it was a sad day leaving Pearse Stadium, seeing former team-mates of mine beaten like that, but all we can do now is try and put that right on Sunday,” says Hoare.

Sunday is Connacht final day and while the Galway camp all week has focused mostly on tactics and preparing to get the best out of themselves in Castlebar, Hoare says of last year’s display: “It’s definitely used as a motivational factor . . .”

That Hoare will be lining out at all this weekend, appearing in his first senior provincial decider, rather than watching from the terraces again is a testament to his positive attitude, where giving up was never an option.

Plagued by injuries for years, Hoare’s journey to where he is now – one of Galway’s top forwards – is a tale of gritty persistence. Of long days and nights, alone, in the Ardilaun Hotel gym. Of boring, repetitive recovery exercise. It’s one of failed rehab and exploring all avenues to recuperate. But mostly it’s a story of that ‘never-say-die’ quality that has epitomised his football career on and off the field.

Hoare, who captained Galway to a Connacht minor title in 2005, was first drafted into the senior squad almost seven years ago, in November 2007, by Liam Sammon.

He made his league debut against Tyrone the following Spring; and was among the Galway panel of 26 – though never played – who won the Connacht senior title against Mayo in 2008, the county’s last. His breakthrough onto the starting xv appeared to be imminent. It wasn’t.

After guiding his club to an All-Ireland intermediate club final at Croke Park in February 2009, Hoare was forced to leave the county squad months later with a career threatening back injury – bulging discs.

Rehab wasn’t working until NUI Galway physiotherapist, James O’Toole, recommended a specialist in Harvard Medical, who eventually got him back playing for St Michael’s in March, 2010. The back was fine but then another setback – he dislocated his shoulder, regressing him another six months.

True to form, Hoare never gave up on the prospect of playing for Galway. He rehabbed, worked hard, impressed with St Michael’s and caught the eye of incoming manager, Tomás Ó Fátharta.

Hoare did well in trials in November 2010 and started five or six early season games under Ó Fátharta. But, again, more regression as the same shoulder was dislocated at training and only surgery would do.  At that point in 2011, the prospect of him ever playing championship for Galway was slim.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Galway let 11-point slip in a thrilling minor battle

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Galway’s Colm Costello tries to fend off the challenge of Roscommon’s Ethan O’Reilly during Friday's Connacht minor football semi-final at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Roscommon 1-16

Galway          2-12

IT would be a tad simplistic to dub what was a hugely entertaining Connacht minor football semi-final as a game of two halves, given that Galway led by 11 points at one stage before Roscommon stormed back to eventually claim a remarkable victory at Tuam Stadium last Saturday.

The reality is a little more nuanced, in that Galway, on their first outing of the year, impressively carved Roscommon’s defence apart with an array of stylish attacking play for a 20-minute spell while playing with the wind at their backs. Outside of that period, though, Galway would just manage to register a solitary point from play.

Roscommon also let four decent goal chances slip through their fingers before they eventually did raise a green flag, drawing two saves while also hitting the post. Critically they hit the last three points of the half to leave a slightly more manageable eight between the sides.

During Galway’s purple patch, pacy corner forwards Eanna Monaghan and Niall Mannion both left their markers chasing shadows, as Galway reeled off nine scores without reply having understandably started quite sluggishly. Goals by Sean Bermingham and Monaghan looked to have Alan Flynn’s side in the box seat, but Roscommon showed remarkable character to claw their way back despite a second half black card that threatened to stall their comeback.

However, when Robert Heneghan’s thunderous 47th minute shot hit the roof of the net while Roscommon were still a body short, the large travelling support rose the decibel levels another notch and their team responded magnificently.

Read full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Hurling

Difficult draw for champs St Thomas’ in senior title race

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COUNTY SHC champions St. Thomas’ will have it all to do to defend their crown after they were drawn in a group containing two heavy-hitters in Cappataggle and Liam Mellows – along with the team that last dumped them out of the senior championship in 2017, Killimordaly.

St. Thomas’ claimed a famous three-in-a-row last year when defeating a resurgent Turloughmore in the county decider and, while they have avoided the 2020 finalists, they have been pitted against last year’s semi-finalists Cappataggle and 2017 winners Liam Mellows.

Both Cappataggle and Liam Mellows have consistently competed at the business end of the championship in recent years, with Cappy pushing Thomas’ all the way in last year’s semi-final, with the champions just edging the contest on a 1-15 to 0-17 scoreline.

While St. Thomas’ also saw off Killimordaly by 1-23 to 2-16 in the quarter-final stage in 2020, they will still be wary of a Killimordaly outfit that dumped them out of the championship at the preliminary quarter-final stage in 2017.

In the aftermath of that defeat, Kevin Lally took over the managerial reins and in the ensuing three years St. Thomas’ cemented their status as one of the county’s top clubs with three senior championship title wins on the bounce.

Over the winter, however, there has been a change in management, with Lally and trainer TJ Ryan stepping down and former hurler Kenneth Burke, who has a growing reputation as a mentor and coach, taking over.

Burke is also a son of former manager John Burke and what he offers is a continuity from two previous managerial set-ups that have been hugely successful.

The 2021 senior and intermediate championships commence on the weekend of September 11 and 12 and, as always, they promise much.

See the full draw and analysis in Tribune Sport this week. The Connacht Tribune is now on sale in shops, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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CITY TRIBUNE

Weld rolls back the years as Coltor proves best in feature

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Trainer Dermot Weld in the winners' enclosure at Ballybrit on Monday evening after saddling Caltor to land the featured Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap. Photo: Iain McDonald.

HE may be disposed as the ‘King of Ballybrit’, but Dermot Weld hasn’t lost his touch for training big-race winners at the Galway Summer Festival.

Monday’s feature – the €100,000 Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap – saw a maximum field of 20 runners face the starter and through the stable currently dominant at Galway threw six darts at the bullseye, it was Weld who hit the target with 14/1 shot Coltor.

A second consecutive win for jockey Finian Maguire in the most prestigious event on the racing calendar for amateur riders, however, looked unlikely as one of Willie Mullins’ half-dozen challengers travelled by far the best of the field around the home turn.

The well-fancied Foveros and Aubrey McMahon had just picked off the lone UK challenger, the pace-setting Litterale Ci, leaving the six-year-old poised to give the Mullins yard a fourth win in the last five runnings of the two-mile contest.

Though hard at work on market drifter Coltor, Maguire finally got the penny to drop inside the final 100 yards and Weld’s challenger swooped close to the line to deny Foveros by the three quarters of a length.

It was Weld’s first win in Monday’s feature since the Jane Mangan partnered Midnight Music obliged in 2012, prior to which he had won the race three times in a row between 2007 and 2009. This was his eighth victory in the race as a trainer.

“It’s a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I also won it four times as an amateur jockey, starting as a 15-year-old,” said Weld.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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