MATT’S MARCH/APRIL UPDATE
Club Person of The Year
Heartfelt congratulations to our hard working secretary Irene King Staunton who has been chosen as Connacht Rugby Connemara Whiskey Club Person of the Year. This is a well deserved honor for the mother of five, four of whom are young Connemara players, and wife of referee James Staunton. Irene’s work with Connemara RFC includes Honorary Secretary, Child Welfare Officer, Registration Officer,Mini Fund-raising, Ticket Officer, Website Administrator and online promotion of the club.
She received her commemorative plaque & signed Connemara Whiskey at half time during the Connacht – Cardiff Magners League Game on the 15th April. We had many well wishers there to cheer her and Connacht on. The Connemara Club also received vouchers worth €500 towards sports equipment for the club and Irene insists that this will be used towards training equipment for the mini & youth sections of the club.
COME ON THE BLACKS!!!
Under 15’s Connemara Versus U.L Bohmenians of Limerick was a fine spectacle of rugby at the Monastery pitch on Sunday last Mothers Day, 3rd April 2011. The Connemara Ladies should be proud of their offspring in the under 15’s challenge.
All coached by John O’Halloran the 17 local lads from Recess to Lough Fee and other areas who togged and played some brilliant running rugby and scored some fabulous tries, notably John Joyce at No. 12 who collected a penalty kick on his own line and sidestepped his way to run clear at the half way line and score under the posts.
The pitch was in great condition and referee James O’Toole had no problems. This Connemara side will hopefully stay together and represent us in the A.I.L League if Connemara manage to stay there. They have great pride in themselves, their school and club and wearing the local All Black outfit is an honor to them.
No. 3 James O’Toole, No. 12 John Joyce Recess, No. 7 Thomas Joyce, Matthew Gavin who scored two tries, Brendan Regan, Lough Fee and Emanuel Zorei from Westport Road all scored great tries. All the Connemara lads played extremely well.
Connemara under 13’s qualified for the final of the Connacht Cup where they will played Castlebar at 12:00 on Sunday Morning 10th April. They had played their semi-final game and won 35 -5 over Corrib. Under 13 Connacht Final
These under 13 Connemara players should be very proud of the excellent rugby they played at Corinthian Park in the Connacht U13 Cup Final. Though beaten 27 -15 they contributed to a great sporting occasion watched by a fine crowd of supporters.
Their parents, teachers and coaches Nigel Murray & assistant Ryan Murtagh can be very proud of them.
Unfortunately two intercept tries was the difference between the two teams. Connemara Rugby has a bright future with these young lads around, also the progress of Oughterard and Carraroe as thriving under age centres must be appreciated.
Hopefully at senior level these sides will complement each other rather than the usual train rush to Galway Clubs every Summer. Its up to us to initiate dialogue.
Acorns become Oaks with a bit of attention!
Connemara v Instonians
Connemara had their worst result of the season on Saturday last when they visited Instonians in Belfast and came out the wrong side of a 68 -0 defeat.
Apparently Connemara were short a number of regulars but this result reflects very badly on the club as a whole. The Club was founded in 1974. Other teams suffer because of our weakness and playing us does not do much for their improvement.
Hopefully the coaches for the new season will be in place soon, so they can meet the players, many of whom are very talented and plan for the new season, and get to train well before their Connacht Senior League Games. There is no point in not preparing and then get very badly beaten. This does damage to morale and is not giving proper respect to opposing teams. This year many players and coaches gave lots of energy and effort for the club. Committee members, players, supporters etc must all play their part.
Retirement: It is very sad to hear of the retirement of Bernard Keaney as coach to Connemara due to family commitments.
Bernard was one of the first Connemara men to set the trend in the A.I.B League. Now dozens of Connemara players have tasted this competition. He was and still is a great coach and player and lately has played brilliantly in the Connemara colours. He was and is also a fine Gaelic Footballer and is an incredible asset as a green keeper at Connemara Golf Links. To Mary Anne and sons Jack, Patrick & Bernard and himself we say a thousand Thank You’s. Bernard is a total Connemara Man and proud of it, and hopefully very soon we will be able to say a proper “Thank You“.
Ards 36-32 Connemara
Connemara could and should have won this absorbing game against Ards on Saturday, despite scoring 4 tries Connemara succumbed to defeat, although there are many positives to be taken from the game, including the two bonus points that Connemara received.
Although Connemara played attractive free flowing rugby at times during the game they missed many routine tackles and kicks which proved pivotal to the final score.
Having not attended the game it would be wrong for me to single out any particular players for individual praise but Bernard Keaney made a telling contribution.
Hopefully we’ll get a good result in the penultimate three fixtures and can look forward to a new start in next year’s A.I.L.
Connemara v Ballinrobe Junior Rugby
Ballinrobe 14 Connemara 11
The second team also played well Sunday in the Connacht league against a very big and fit Ballinrobe side, who are managed by former Ireland great Noel Mannion who has done an excellent job coaching the team. Michael O’Toole at full back is continuing to improve with every outing. The evergreen’s Tomas King, Kevin Keogh and Kevin Ward continue to impress although Wardy has room to improve in order to meet his great former standards.
There were over twenty keen local men on the pitch and with Paddy Madden, Oisin Conneely, David McHugh, Stephen Nee and all the others things are beginning to look better for our team. Over the weekend you had over forty local individuals representing Connemara, including our underage girls who done exceedingly well at an All Ireland blitz in Athlone. The young Connemara girls despite their lack of experience in comparison to their opponents performed excellently losing by the slimmest of margins to the Munster champions and won their remaining fixtures against two Leinster teams, a few of the Connemara girls also helped a Wexford team who were short for numbers. Despite being relatively inexperienced there were four Connemara girls representing Connacht against Munster in an under 17’s fixture, which it testament to the girls ability due to them all being 15 years old or younger.
John O’Halloran & Women’s Rugby
It may come to a shock to many people but women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and this has caused a swell in enthusiasm for the game amongst the women of Ireland.
With the growing trend in mind Connemara acted to set up its own women’s rugby club, along with our own club there has been similar clubs set up in numerous locations along the province, including: Westport, Ballina, Dunmore, Ballinasloe and Loughrea.
Despite our girls team being set up at the start of the 2010-2011 season, six local girls were selected to represent Connacht at under 17 level after a series of selection matches and trials, as impressive as their achievement’s are, it is added to because all of the girls are 15 or under. The young Connacht representatives play Munster this coming Saturday in the Sports Ground Galway, and further matches against Leinster and Munster are planned for the near future. The six girls selected for the Connacht squad are as follows:
The girls are under the expert tutelage of John O’Halloran who has a wealth of sporting experience in both playing and coaching. John has served as Connacht cycling development officer for one year and has managed both Ireland and Connacht under age cycling teams at underage level under 15’s and under 17’s. John has also been actively involved in youth rugby in the Connemara area for over six years, he is currently youth development officer for the club, which entails visiting eleven North Connemara schools promoting the game, and hopefully instilling a love for the game in the young people of Connemara. John last year guided the under 15 boys rugby team to a third place finish in the league as well as a runner up spot in the plate.
John’s own sporting career is just as impressive having represented both Ireland and Connacht in cycling, he boasts two top twenty finishes in the Ras and is also a former Connacht time trial champion
John gives great credit to the surge in interest in the women’s game to Wendy Hickey who is a Connacht community development officer, Wendy has done sterling work in promoting the game in the province through tag rugby and coaching courses.
Our pre Cheltenham race night was held in Griffins on Friday 11th March at 9 p.m.
Unfortunately this took away from our local Comhaltas Ceoltoiri function at the Station House.
This meeting was organized some eight weeks prior. We are encouraging all our members and supporters to contribute to the Comhaltas people who are bring the country Fleadh Ceoil to Clifden in May. We wish to thank all our sponsors and horse buyers as well as jockeys for their support, a select number of jockeys were “weighed in” after the races.
Connacht Junior Plate
Connemara 21 Bucaneers 17
Connemara had a great win in this roaring game at Athlone on Sunday after being unlucky against Ballinrobe the previous Sunday.
Connemara with a strong wind at their backs led 7- 5 at half time thanks to a fine try by scrum – half Oisin Conneely converted by Shane Sweeney.
A fine try in the second half by Stephen Nee who had to use his fine frame and converted by Michael O’Toole gave the visitors a good lead. However Bucaneers came back to lead 17 -14 with ten minutes remaining.
Connemara showed good steel and composure to have continuous pressure and a fine try from Eoinn Bourke ensued. This was converted by full back Michael O’Toole for a great victory. Bucaneers had their full second side on the pitch.
Veterans Kevin Keogh & Bernard Keaney had notable games as well as prop Gerry King who came on in the second half.
Young John O’Brien is at home this week for a well earned rest from his exploits as full back from Bucaneers in the A.I.L and Ireland in the International Rugby Club events.
Not only was he picked for Ireland but retained his place as full back with some fine rugby.
Next Saturday Bucaneers have a vital game in Limerick. John is the proud owner of an All Ireland Minor football medal as well as being the Connacht Interprovincial Youths Captain that beat all the provinces in the Round Robin and then won the semi beat Leinster easily at Mullingar in the final. Connacht supporters will remember that this great achievement never got onto our air waves or into the National papers.
Johns parents are from Cork & Sligo and with his Native Connemara talent and grit has a great future in Sport.
It is good to see Tiernan O’Halloran of Connemara and Connacht back from injury and playing for Ireland against France on Saturday. He was injured a few months ago, while representing Ireland in the under 20’s World Cup. He played extremely well for Ireland last year when they won the Six Nations trophy. Aaron Conneely is also in the back row on Saturday. He is also on the Connacht senior side. His father Eamon is from Patches, Claddaghduff, and in his youth won many trophies with the Community School, Clifden. He is internationally well known from his world sailing achievement, aboard his boat “Patches”.
Gabriel Keady was in a generous mood on an AIL Saturday when he presented a tie to the president of Sunday’s Well R.F.C.
He made a very thoughtful speech. He also presented an umbrella to Br.Vivian Cotter who coached rugby in the Community School and Connemara R.F.C since 1967.
Br.Vivian is also a treasured contributor to Connemara Community Radio.
(Submitted by Matt O Sullivan – PRO)