Club News

Connemara Win Cawley Cup

April 22nd, 2014

Cawley Cup Winners

In a performance that matched the beautifully warm spring afternoon, Connemara claimed the club’s maiden Cawley Cup success thanks to a comprehensive 32-16 win over familiar adversaries, Westport on Sunday last.

The two clubs have met on three occasions this season, including a pre season encounter, and the Blacks have run out winners twice in the competitive fixtures with the pre season game ending in a tie. In their last league encounter, Connemara defeated Westport by a forty point margin, 43-3, and, naturally, the Mayo men were looking to seek a measure of vengeance on their Galway counterparts.

The early signs, however, pointed towards another difficult afternoon for Westport. Connemara, with their fleet footed and skillful team, revel on hard surfaced pitches and Crowley Parks surface felt more like concrete than turf.

Straight from the offset, the Blacks went for the jugular and were soon rewarded for their bloody minded perseverance. In order to stem the Blacks momentum, Westport attempted to slow down Connemara’s ball and tested the patience of the referee in doing so.  Shane Sweeney, having such a fine season in the fly half berth, gratefully slotted over the resultant penalty to give Connemara an early 3-0 lead.

Soon after, Connemara were to extend their lead even further, thanks a to try quite clearly forged on the Blacks’ training paddock. First phase ball off the back of a scrum saw the ball swept wide to full back Jack Vaughan who evaded several would be tacklers before offloading back inside to outside centre Ian Heanue to dive over. Shane Sweeney accurately bisected the posts to take the score to 10-0 to the Blacks’.

Credit to Westport, though, they responded with an extended attacking foray of their own and soon  had their own points on the board. The Blacks were over zealous in their attempts to pilfer ball at the breakdown and strayed in from the side. From the penalty, Dwayne Corcoran, one of Westport’s better players, caressed the ball between the posts to register Westport’s first points of the afternoon.

With the ball in hand, the Blacks looked menacing and each time they flexed their considerable attacking muscles, Westport found it difficult to live with the pace and variety of their moves. Barry Gibbons, reverted to hooker to accommodate for the missing captain Alan Pryce, added another try for the Blacks soon after, diving over from short from distance after a multitude of attacking phases. This time, however, Shane Sweeney was agonizingly close with his conversion, dragging the ball just wide. 15-3 to Connemara an in extremely open, entertaining game.

Whilst Connemara had the definite ascendancy in the backline, Westport  were the dominant force come scrum time. Indeed, it was in their scrum where Westport’s next score had it’s genesis. A scrum eight man push from the Mayo men had Connemara retreating and the referee adjudged the Blacks to have wheeled the scrum. Dwayne Corcoran, once again, made no mistake from the kicking tee, taking the score to 15-6.

Westport, after consecutive scores, were beginning to build up a head of steam but Connemara checked their momentum soon after thanks to another Shane Sweeney penalty. Wary of the Blacks’ potency with quick ball, Westport did everything in their powers, legal and illegal, to prevent the Blacks from supplying their backs with regular front foot ball. This time, with the Westport tackler slow to roll away Connemara extended their lead to 18-6 with Connemara duly adding the resultant penalty.

A feature of the Blacks season has been their water-tight defence, and despite the best efforts of former Connemara player, Kevin Corcoran, and the totemic Liam Scahill, each of Westport’s moves were telegraphed and snuffed out. Despite being frustrated in their attempts to cross the whitewash, ‘Port remained patient and were soon rewarded when Connemara infringed at the breakdown once again allowing the impressive Dwayne Corcoran to add another penalty. 18-9.

Connemara’s next score encapsulated the difference in attacking proficiency between the two sides. Jack Vaughan, who had been thoroughly impressive all afternoon, hit a sumptuous line off  Ian Heanue’s pass and sauntered over the line for an excellent virtuoso try. Shane Sweeeney added the extra’s with aplomb to make the half time score 25-9 to Connemara.

Westport rallied at the beginning of the second half and deserve kudos for their improvement. Still, despite the lions share of territory and possession they found the Blacks defence insurmountable.

To compound the Mayo teams’ misery even more, Connemara added another try five minutes after the interval. Connemara showed attacking bravado in spades as they decided to pick off the back off their own scrum five metres from their own line and run at Westport. Kevin Keogh picked off the base of the scrum and made significant yards before offloading to Peter O’Toole who danced by three attempted tackles before passing to Shane Sweeney; Sweeney then offloaded to the rampaging Jack Vaughan who in turn passed to David McDonagh to score. It was a try of magnificent craft, bravery and execution. Sweeney, again, added the extra’s to take the score to 32-9.

Many teams would have been demoralized staring down the barrel of a comprehensive defeat in a cup final, but Westport, coached by the brother of Connemara coach Eddie Walsh, JP, never gave in and were rewarded with their own try close to the final whistle.

Connemara had emptied their bench and the game had become fractious when Westport, thanks to an incisive kick from their fly half Tobin, touched down through Kevin Corcoran. The try was just rewards for Westport’s perseverance.

The final whistle blew to rapturous scenes from the Connemara players, staff and supporters alike. After a ten year drought, the Blacks have now won two trophies in three weeks.

Eddie Walsh, Gerry King, Gerard Faherty, Joe O’Connell, and, of course, the players all deserve massive credit in what has been an extremely encouraging season for the Blacks’. With an extremely young side, Connemara could go from strength to strength next season.

Connemara Team:

J. Vaughan, E. Kilkenny, I. Heanue, D. McDonagh, P. O’Toole, S. Sweeney, M. O’Toole. E. Conroy, B. Gibbons, K. Barry, R. Hogan, M. Flaherty, D. McHugh, N. Staunton, K. Keogh.

Dancing Success

April 17th, 2014

At their recent meeting, the Connemara RFC committee extended their congratulations to the Curley School of Dancing in Renvyle on their recent success in winning the U13 World Title.

 

It is great to see local organizations gaining success and all at the club are delighted for the Curley’s and their students.

Sympathies

April 17th, 2014

Sympathy was expressed at Wednesday’s Connemara RFC committee meeting to the following families, who have recently lost loved ones:

 

Martin and Catherine Connolly and family of Calla on the very sad death of their seven year old daughter, Adina, after illness.

 

To the Guy family on the recent death of Peter Guy after a long illness.

 

To Theresa O’Toole and family of Taobh A Locha on the sad passing of Martin O’Toole, a noted building contractor. The O’Toole’s are great supporters of our club.

 

To John and Eileen Malone of Clifden on the passing of their father, Pat Malone. A staunch prop forward for Ballinrobe RFC, Pat played against Connemara on a number of occasions in the 1970’s. His son, John, was a great fly half for Connemara in the glory days of the 80’s and 90’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U17’s

April 17th, 2014

The under seventeen’s, too, replicating their U19 counterparts are also qualified for a cup final and Henry O’Toole/Bernard Keaney/Aidan O’Halloran coached team have had a successful season to date and hope to add some silverware.

Connemara U19’s 18-17 Galwegians U19’s

April 17th, 2014

Connemara’s under 19’s had a brilliant win over Galwegians U19’s on Saturday last in the Connacht Cup semi final. In an end to end open fixture, Connemara came out on top 18-17.

 

Wegians were heavy favorites after defeating the Blacks easily in the league campaign, but from the opening exchanges it was clear that Connemara were up for this clash.

 

The Blacks tore into their opposition early on, and had three tries on the board before half time.

 

Galwegians improved in the second half and added two tries of their own, but Connemara weren’t to be denied and now they will face Corinthians in the U19 Cup final on the 27th of April at the Sportsground.

 

Your support at the game would be greatly appreciated by the club and players alike.

Welsh Success

April 17th, 2014

Congratulations to coaches John O’Halloran and Dara Heanue and their dedicated U15 side who brought home to the Welsh International Trophy from a multi national tournament hosted in Wales last weekend.

 

This side had already won the U15 Connacht A Cup, defeating Galwegians in the final, and met teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England in Wales. In total, they played six games.

 

Doing all their own fund raising, the team left Clifden at three AM on Friday and returned home at 2 AM on Tuesday morning.

 

The players are a credit to themselves, their club, their parents and their coaches and we would like to congratulate them for their brilliant achievement.

Ballina 12-21 Connemara

April 17th, 2014

Connemara had a fine win over Ballina on Sunday last at Heffernan Park, Ballina, in the semi final of the Cawley Cup. The winners of the tie were ensured a place in next season’s All Ireland Cup, so there was two tangible prizes on offer.

 

Connemara were missing several players, including centres Ian Heanue and David McDonagh, utility back Eoghan Bourke and forwards Niall Staunton, Patrick Moran and David McHugh.

 

The Blacks conceded a soft try against five minutes, totally against the run of play. Protracted Connemara pressure saw the visitors on the cusp of scoring, however, the Blacks final pass which would have surely resulted in a try was intercepted and Ballina went the length of the pitch touch down under the posts, leaving the conversion a formality. Despite some encouraging early play, the Blacks were down seven points to nil.

 

The concession of the try, elicited a response from Connemara and they began an assault on the Ballina line. The hosts found out difficult, within the confines of the law, to contain the Blacks and conceded several penalties, one of which Shane Sweeney converted to make the score seven points to three.

 

Soon after, full back, Eoghan Kilkenny, made a scintillating break, evading several would be tacklers before offloading to Peter O’Toole to cross the line and, for the first time in the game, give Connemara the lead. Shane Sweeney’s place kicking once again proved accurate as the Ballyconneely man slotted the resultant conversion to make the score 10-7 to Connemara.

More Connemara pressure brought more penalties and with Shane Sweeney in imperious kicking form, successful kicks were inevitable. The fly half added two more successful penalties to bring the score to 16-7 to the Blacks.

With their tails up, Connemara were attacking with aplomb and they had a second try to celebrate soon before half time. Jack Vaughan, a player in fine form in recent weeks, put the finishing touch on a sweeping Connemara move to make the score 21-7. For once, Shane Sweeney’s kicking radar let him down, but Connemara were satisfied with their 21-7 half time lead.

 

Staring down the barrel of a defeat and with the wind at their backs, Ballina attacked relentlessly in the second half but their efforts were in vein as a stubborn Connemara defence proved impregnable for the first twenty minutes of the second half.

 

Eventually, though, with Connemara a man in arrears, due to Kevin Keoghs sin binning, Ballina breached the Connemara defence for their second try of the afternoon. It was, however, just a consolation as Ballina missed their conversion and the Blacks held out and qualified for the Cawley Cup final against Westport at Galwegians on April 20th.

 

As mentioned above, Connemara were missing several senior players, but their replacements, Eoghan Kilkenny and replacement TJ Berry, in the first senior campaigns, looked extremely assured and should be commended on their fine respective performances.

 

 

Connemara Win Connacht Junior Plate

April 1st, 2014

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Thanks to a hard fought 21-10 win over Loughrea, Connemara were crowned Connacht Junior Plate winners at the Sportsground on Sunday last.

 

The contrast in the respective teams style’s of play was clear from the outset; Loughrea, with their massive pack, preferred to play a more abbrasive forward orientated game whereas Connemara, conversely, used their backline more excessively.

 

The opening exchanges were fairly even with Connemara firing a warning shot when, after a period of Blacks’ pressure, Loughrea conceded the penalty from which Shane Sweeney kicked the games opening three points.

 

Credit to Loughrea, they never folded at falling behind and rallied, putting significant duress on Connemara’s rearguard. The Division 1B side were gaining the ascendancy in the pack, but, when they played the ball wide to their backs, Connemara’s defence always had an answer for their attacking endeavours.

 

It was clear that any potential Loughrea score would have it’s genesis in the set piece, and that’s exactly how it transpired. A man light in the pack due to Barry Gibbons’ sin binning, Loughrea, with a five metre scrum, powered their way over the line to touch down at the base. The conversion drifted wide to take the score to 5-3 to Loughrea at half time, much to the delight of their large contingent of fans housed in the Clan Stand of the Sportsground.

 

Despite being a man in arrears and behind on the scoreboard, Connemara never panicked and stook to their attacking principles at the beginning of the second half. With plenty of territory and possession, the Blacks were rewarded for their persistence when Michael O’Toole, after receiving an offload after a fine arching run by his half back partner, Shane Sweeney, touched down. Sweeney, who was growing in prominence, especially as the game became more fragmented in the second half, slotted the resulting conversion to give Connemara a 10-5 lead.

 

The try saw Connemara’s tails rise and they began the turn the screw on Loughrea with waves and waves of attacking pressure. Loughrea’s defence of Connemara’s attack wasn’t always legal and they began to concede numerous penalties in dangerous area’s. Shane Sweeney’s accurate place kicking continued as he carressed two more penalties between the posts to take the score to 16-5 to  Connemara.

 

Connemara could sense more tries in the game and, soon, they had another. Kevin Keogh’s quick tap penalty caused dissaray in the Loughrea defence and, after two phases, Michael O’Toole dotted down for his second try of the evening and effectively ended the game as a contest. This time, however, Shane Sweeney couldn’t convert leaving the score at 21-5.

 

Loughrea were staring down the barrell of a defeat, but they never wilted and deserve immense credit for their never say die attitude. Late on, with Connemara permanently down to fourteen thanks to Barry Gibbons’ dismissal, they added another try from a pushover scrum. The conversion, again, was missed to make the score at the final whistle 21-10 to Connemara.

 

The relative youth of Connemara’s team must be noted; in their starting fifteen, the Blacks boasted eight players under the age of 24 and several more in their mid to late twenties. Comfortably the youngest side in their division, next season could well prove to be an exciting year for the Blacks’ as players inevitably improve with age.

 

The first senior silverware to arrive at the club in a number of years, the Blacks will hope Sunday proves to be a  benchmark for more successes in the coming years. With coach Eddie Walsh and an extremely young squad at his disposal, the sky is the limit

 

John O’Sullivan

 

Connemara Team:

1: Eugene Conroy, 2: Alan Pryce, 3: Kevin Barry; 4: Niall Staunton, 5: Martin Faherty; 6: David McHugh, 7: Barry Gibbons’, 8: Kevin Keogh; 9: Michael O’Toole, 10: Shane Sweeney; 11: Stephen Mullen; 12: David McDonagh, 13: Ian Heanue; 14: Peter O’Toole; 15: Jack Vaughan

Replacements: Rory Hogan, Chris Casey, Eoghan Kilkenny, Patrick Moran

 

John O’Sullivan

 

 


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