VICTORIOUS Galwegians captain Ja Naughton says the city side’s promotion to the top flight of Irish club rugby is a ringing endorsement of the pool of talent that currently exists in Galway and its surrounds.
With their epic 17-13 win over Limerick outfit Garryowen at Crowley Park last Saturday, Galwegians clinched their second promotion in as many seasons and have now jumped from the third to first tier of club rugby in just 24 months.
In many respects, it reflects the significant work being done at local level in Galway at the moment. Naughton agrees. “It was a massive victory for the club, especially with the amount of local talent we have now compared to previous years where we had to go outside the province to get players in.
“That is my proudest thing. I think there are six or seven of us alone from the junior team that won in 2008 who are now playing senior rugby at this club. That doesn’t really happen to be honest or it hasn’t happened very much in previous years.”
In his 15th season with ‘Wegians, Naughton confirms Saturday’s win was the biggest he has had with the club and, again, reiterates that it was all the sweeter because the majority of the team are players he has come up through the ranks with.
“Most of us played 20s together. Just take the front row there, myself, ‘Fitzy’ (Ross Fitzgerald) and Doran McHugh all played 20s together and then from the junior team you have Brian McClearn, Barry Lee and Brian Murphy and you had a couple of lads on the fringes of that squad as well. So, we have been playing together since we were 18s and 20s.”
Certainly, Galwegians have played their part in the promotion of the game in the West of Ireland and this can seen by the huge number of children heading to Crowley Park week in, week out. “It is definitely down to the structure the club has put in place,” continues Naughton.
“You can see the amount of kids coming through the youth system at the moment. You will have 500 or 600 kids up there on a Saturday and during the week and by just sticking to the young players and giving young lads a chance the club has progressed.
“Obviously, we have lost players through the recession over the years – some players have had to go abroad – but anyone at home in Galway can see the standard we have at this club.”
Indeed, the 29-year-old says the team has really turned itself around since being demoted a couple of seasons ago and this has largely been due to the mix of young and old now in the squad. “To me, the majority of the squad has matured and there is a good blend there. It has just gone well.
“Our target at the start of the season was, possibly, just to stay up but I knew myself with the experience and youth coming through the club we could go on and challenge. The players are quite a committed bunch of lads to be giving up their time on a Tuesday and Thursday night and giving up their weekends to play. I just knew we had something in us to go again this season.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.