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Connacht Tribune

Terrific St Thomas’ hold too many trump cards for the title holders



Nigel Canavan, Salthill Hotel (sponsor), presenting the Man of the Match award for the County Senior Hurling Final to St. Thomas' Darragh Burke after their victory over Liam Mellows at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

It was probably just as well that rival sideline mentors Louis Mulqueen and TJ Ryan – neither, ironically, a Galway man – had a heated exchange at Pearse Stadium on Sunday as there wasn’t much on-field tension during Sunday’s county hurling final such was the disparity in standard between St Thomas’ and Liam Mellows.

For all we know, Mulqueen, the former Clare coach, and ex-Limerick boss Ryan may have had some history at inter-county level, but their locking of horns in Salthill arguably generated more excitement among the neutrals than the match itself. St Thomas’ were just too superior in completing the notable feat of winning three Galway titles in seven years.

Ahead of the final, few anticipated that Mellows would be exposed in the manner that they were. Having looked to be timing their run perfectly and returning to a happy hunting ground, the city outfit were unable to match St Thomas’ intensity or quality. Failing to score from play in the opening-half summed up their attacking woes, while their defence never got to grips with the outstanding Burke brothers, Darragh and Eanna.

Having fallen by nine points to St Thomas’ in a group encounter as recently as September, Mellows should have carried a motivational edge into Sunday’s decider but, in reality, it was Kevin Lally’s squad which proved the hungrier and more driven. David Burke set the tone with a terrific long-range point in the second minute and they were in no mood to accept second best.

It sums up the big gulf between the teams that St Thomas’ drew a blank on the scoreboard over the final 20 minutes of action (including injury time) and yet still managed to emulate the margin of their big group win over Mellows. With the excellent Fintan Burke back in their ranks after missing the semi-final, this was close to their best form of the past few years and leaves them in great fettle for a major crack at regaining the All-Ireland Club title in the New Year.

St Thomas’ should take care of Cushendall of Antrim next February before a Croke Park showdown with either Ballygunner of Waterford or Ballyhale Shamrocks, assuming the Kilkenny champions get the better of Ballyboden in the Leinster final on Sunday week. With title favourites Na Piarsaigh sent packing in Thurles last Sunday, the race for the Tommy Moore Cup is wide open.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’



It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.

Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.

“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”

The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.

He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.

A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.

But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.

Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.

They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.

Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.

The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.

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Connacht Tribune

Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites



The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.

Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.

Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.

“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.

“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.

The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.

That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.

The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.

Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.

However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.

It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.

Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway



More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.

Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.

Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996.  Both men remain in custody.

A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.

A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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