Date Published: 11-May-2011
THE promised and expected Munster backlash didn’t come – the men in red are no longer able to raise the ante when it suits them anymore – but that still didn’t protect Connacht from falling to a third consecutive Magners League at Thomond Park on Friday night in a disappointing end to the province’s competitive season.
A few weeks ago, Eric Elwood’s squad had reasonable hopes of achieving their highest ever finish in the league thanks to great run of results at the Sportsground, but the wheels have come off in recent weeks and, instead, of the targeted seventh position in the table, Connacht have now ended up fourth from bottom – and two of the three teams behind them are Italian minnows, Trevisio and Aironi.
To be fair, it was always going to be a tough run in for Connacht with a home fixture against a formidable Cardiff Blues outfit followed by away ties against Ulster and Munster. In the end, the men in green got nothing from those matches and with several influential performers departing the province, there is some understandable concern about what lays ahead for Connacht next season.
Unquestionably, the squad has become more competitive and consistent under Elwood’s stewardship, but only a single away victory in the Magners League campaign just concluded underlines how far Connacht have still to go and with Fionn Carr, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagen, Ian Keatley, Troy Nathan and Mike McComish all heading for the exit gate, major surgery will be required during the off-season.
It’s doubtful if some of the players coming in possess the quality to completely offset the consequences of losing so many front-liners.
There will also be a ‘bedding in’ process and Elwood faces a big challenge to mould his new squad into a competitive force. At different stages in recent seasons, Keatley, Carr and Cronin were the most talked about player in their ranks and none of them will be easily replaced.
Though Connacht failed to qualify for the knock out stages of the Amlin Cup this season, their priority all along was a good run in the Magners League. For much of the campaign, the Westerners were achieving a new respect from their opponents through a mixture of their defiance and the team playing a more expansive brand of rugby under Elwood. Connacht were fronting up, but they still don’t have the resources of other squads and that told on them in recent weeks.
Largely, the same group of players were laying their bodies on the line, game in and game out. Professional rugby is now so physically demanding that players simply can maintain those levels of intensity all season and the fatigue gradually caught up on Connacht. It was a punishing schedule of fixtures and when you have the likes of former captain John Muldoon missing out on a large tranche of the season due to injury, it puts even greater pressure on existing resources.
Against that background, it’s unfortunate that their supposedly highest profiled acquisition for next season, Auckland Blues centre Benson Stanley, has now pulled out of the deal which is a big blow to Connacht, especially as Elwood and his squad could be making their debut in the Heineken Cup next winter – a scenario which will unfold if high flying Leinster justify their favourites tag against Northampton in the 2011 final at the Millennium Stadium.
Sure, the prospect of Heineken Cup rugby for Connacht would create no shortage of local hype and excitement but, the way things are going, it’s probable that the province would be stepping into a far more competitive arena with weakened resources.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.