Everything to be determined yet in Group 2 after penultimate round  

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship

Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir 

Galway’s Ailish O’Reilly with Antrim’s Aine Magill and Laoise McKenna during The Glen Dimplex Senior All-Ireland C-Ship ©INPHO/John McVitty

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie champions Galway will do battle with Kilkenny next week to determine who will emerge from Group 2 as table toppers and earn the resultant automatic semi-final spot. 

A quirk of the draw also has last year’s intermediate winners Antrim going toe-to-toe with Limerick with the third qualifying slot from the group up for grabs.

And that means that the final group gam, between Down and Offaly also has a huge amount riding on it, with the losers facing a relegation play-off against the bottom team in Group 1.  

Right now, it is Offaly who prop up the table without any points. Susan Earner’s crew battled all the way to the final whistle against Kilkenny and were particularly competitive in the second half but by then, the result was already assured, the Noresiders leading by 12 points at the interval on the way to a 3-18 to 2-7 triumph at UPMC Nowlan Park. 

The Cats racked up the scores with relative ease in the first half and after Mairéad Teehan equalised Denise Gaule’s opener, Julieanne Malone began a run of 12 successive scores for Brian Dowling’s side that included six more points for Gaule. 

Miriam Walsh, Aoife Prendergast and Michaela Kennelly also clipped over nice scores and though Sarah Harding provided a brief respite for Offaly with a goal, Kilkenny’s reply was ruthlessly swift, Katie Nolan rattling the Faithfuls’ net from the next attack to make it 1-13 to 1-1 at the break. 

Nolan grabbed her second goal six minutes after the resumption and when Malone raised another green flag in the 29th minute, the margin was 18. Offaly fought valiantly and Teehan was their principal scoring contributor but they must now defeat Down next weekend to avoid a relegation play-off. 

A draw will be enough for the Mournewomen to cement their elite status, as they have a point on the board having drawn with Antrim previously pointless. The red and blacks fell to Limerick by 2-11 to 0-12 at Cappamore but would have been harbouring quarter-final hopes approaching half-time as they led by nine points with the wind at their backs. 

Limerick had only scored one point, from Caoimhe Costelloe, while Niamh Mallon converted five frees, and Paul O’Hagan, Amy McAleenan, Anna Rogan and Clara Cowan also split the posts.  

McAleenan had a chance to extend that advantage but Claire Keating made a great save to prevent a goal and within seconds, the sensational Costelloe executed a lovely one-two with Caoimhe Lyons to goal just before the short whistle. It was a telling six-point turnaround.  

John Lillis’ outfit had the wind in the second half but more significant was the presence of Costelloe, who finished with a tally of 2-10 as she dragged the Shannonsiders back into the game and then hauled them clear of the visitors. 

Her second goal was fortuitous, as Down netminder Catherine McGourty spilled her 60m free ten minutes after the restart. That was a major blow for the visitors and though O’Hagan converted a couple of frees, Costelloe punished a number of defensive indiscretions at the other end, before Lyons finally became the second Limerick player to score and ensure a victory that moves her side into third. 

This result sets up a mouth-watering clash with senior newcomers Antrim next week. Having won two games in a row now, Limerick only need a draw while Antrim, who will have home advantage, must win. 

Galway’s Aoife Donohue celebrates their score against Antrim in The Glen Dimplex Senior All-Ireland C-Ship – ©INPHO/John McVitty

The Ulster side will have to shake off any lingering effects of their 2-17 to 0-6 defeat by All-Ireland champions Galway, who like Kilkenny, boast a perfect record and are certain of making the quarter-finals at least. The vastly superior score difference boasted by Cathal Murray’s charges means that a share of the spoils will put them into the last four. 

Galway had scored nine goals in three games and Siobhán McGrath’s 23rd minute major was an important score as it made it opened up some clear daylight between the teams for the first time. 

Caitrin Dobbin and Róisín McCormick had given the hosts a solid start with a couple of good scores but a pair of Dolan points that bookmarked scores from Sabina Rabbitte and Aisling O’Reilly settled the westerners. 

Áine Magill had two points for Antrim but after McGrath’s goal, Dolan doubled her tally and Rebecca Hennelly slotted a brace too to make it 1-12 to 0-4 at the break. Tight of the latter being replaced by Catherin Finnerty just before the short whistle will concern Galway supporters, however.  

The Tribesomen’s second goal came via the dynamic Aoife Donohue seven minutes from the end of normal time but it had been straightforward by then, with next week the one that counts for all six teams now. 

“It is a real local derby, especially with the Galway connection in the Treaty team” – Match Preview: Galway United (H) v Treaty United

Galway United host Treaty United at Eamonn Deacy Park this Friday with kick-off at 7.45pm.

United had a superb return to First Division action last Friday when they defeated Bray Wanderers 5-1 at the Carlisle Grounds. Top goalscorer Stephen Walsh bagged two goals to make it 10 goals for the season so far for the clinical striker while Wilson Waweru, Max Hemmings and David Hurley also scored in an emphatic victory on the east coast.

The Tribesmen, who currently sit on top of the First Division table, now welcome fifth place Treaty United to Terryland this week. Tommy Barrett’s side overcame Athlone Town in their most recent fixture to put them three points ahead of Wexford FC who are also on the hunt for a playoff place.

United manager John Caulfield is anticipating another difficult challenge at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night.

“We are looking forward to this week’s game – it is a real local derby, especially with the Galway connection in the Treaty team,” Caulfield told the club’s media team.

“We know how difficult it will be, Treaty had a good win against Athlone last week. Both games between the two teams this year were extremely tight so we are expecting another very tough game on Friday.”

Connacht announce signing of Joe Joyce from Bristol Bears

Connacht Rugby have announced the club have reached an agreement to sign Bristol Bears second row Joe Joyce for the start of the 2023/24 season.

The 28 year old will make the move to Connacht after he completes his 11th season at the Gallagher Premiership club, where he has already made more than 150 appearances, including helping his side to win the EPCR Challenge Cup title in 2020.

In 2017/2018 Joyce was named the Bristol Bears Player of the Season, when he played a leading role in his hometown club’s promotion back to the top flight.
While Joyce has consistently been one of the Bears’ best performers over the last number of years, the 2021/22 season has arguably been his best yet. Acting as Captain for parts of the campaign, Joyce’s huge contribution both on and off the pitch was recognised when he was named the club’s Forward of the Season, Team Man of the Season and Supporters’ Player of the Season.

In addition to his outstanding personal achievements with his club, Joyce was also shortlisted for the Gallagher Community Player of the Season award, in recognition of his community engagement efforts with local charities and programmes.

The 28-year old is extremely proud of his Irish and Connacht heritage – his grandparents were born in Clonbur Co. Galway – and he has already represented Ireland, featuring in the 2014 U20 Six Nations campaign.

Joe Joyce says he is looking forward to the new challenge:

“After many years representing my hometown club I’m very excited about the opportunity to represent my Irish roots and my family name. I’ve been to the West of Ireland and The Sportsground on many occasions to visit family and as a supporter, and I can’t wait to make an impact on and off the field in the province as a Connacht player and make my family proud. After speaking to the coaches, Tim and Willie I’m very excited about the future of Connacht Rugby and can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Head Coach Andy Friend says:                                                                                                 

“We are thrilled Joe has chosen to join the club for the start of the 2023/24 season. Whilst we know his arrival is still 12 months away, we are already excited by the prospect of what he will bring to Connacht Rugby and his signing represents a key addition to the squad we are looking to build. Joe is a big physical lock, with excellent athletic and footballing ability and so he is a great fit for how we want play. Off the pitch Joe is also the type of player who understands the importance of community and I have no doubt he will make a positive impact in that area, something we as a club place a significant value on.”

“We always know how difficult it is to go to the Carlisle Grounds but were looking forward to the match” – Match Preview (A) v Bray Wanderers

Match Preview: Bray Wanderers vs Galway United

Galway United travel to the Carlisle Grounds this Friday to face Bray Wanderers – Kick-off at 7.45 pm

After seven consecutive victories, the Tribesmen’s winning run came to an end before the midseason break with a one-nil defeat to league leaders Cork City.

While league action did return last week, United had a bye week and took a watching brief. Bray on the other hand travelled to Longford and played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.

Rob Manley scored the opening goal for Pat Devlin’s side at Bishopsgate in a result that keeps the Seagulls in the playoff hunt.

After a three-week break manager, John Caulfield is looking forward to returning to action.

“We are looking forward to our first game back after the break,” Caulfield told the club’s media team.

“After a slow start, Bray have improved significantly, they played Longford last week and were very impressive.”

“We always know how difficult it is to go to the Carlisle Grounds but were looking forward to the match”

“We know how big of a challenge it is on Friday night but we are really looking forward to having our biggest crowd of the season.” Match Preview: (H) v Cork City

Galway United host Cork City at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday with kick-off at 7.45pm.

The Tribesmen made it seven wins on the bounce last week they defeated Athlone Town 3-0 at Terryland. Goals from Alex Murphy, David Hurley and substitute Ronan Manning ensured victory for John Caulfield’s side.

United entertain Colin Healy’s Cork City outfit this week in a top of the table clash. City go into the encounter two points behind the Tribesmen after being held to a 1-1 draw by Wexford FC last time out.

Manager John Caulfield is hoping for a big crowd to attend Friday night’s game at Eamonn Deacy Park.

“The team have played well over the last couple of months,” Caulfield told the club’s media team.

“We know how big of a challenge it is on Friday night but we are really looking forward to having our biggest crowd of the season.

“I am appealing to the supporters to get into the ground early and create a fantastic atmosphere – we are all looking forward to the game.”

Four-star Galway get off to stress-free start 

Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir 

Galway got the defence of their Glen Dimplex All-Ireland senior camogie title off to a relatively stress-free start as they cantered to a 4-11 to 1-6 victory over Limerick at Pearse Stadium. 

John Lillis selected four debutants for the visitors and the Limerick boss must have been pleased with the way the Shannonsiders competed in the first half in particular. His counterpart, Cathal Murray will be glad to get the campaign under way as his side look to complete a two-in-a-row for the first time in Galway’s history. 

Niamh Hanniffy sprinted clear of the cover to register Galway’s first goal in the 11th minute and Carrie Dolan finished brilliantly with a one-handed strike just before the interval to give the champions a 2-1 to 0-4 lead into the wind, Caoimhe Costelloe’s free-taking keeping Limerick in touch. 

Orlaith Kelleher gave Lillis’s crew an early advantage but they had no answer as Hanniffy went through the gears to complete a hat-trick of goals, while Ailish O’Reilly finished with four points. Costelloe’s goal from a free brought her tally to 1-5 for Limerick. 

Injury-time points from Susan Daly and a Chloe Morey free secured a share of the spoils for Clare with Tipperary at the end of a competitive but tight affair at The Ragg. Clare had defeated Tipp after a replay in the Munster Championship and so it was no surprise that the teams knew each other so well, more or less cancelling each other out. 

Cáit Devane scored three of her five points as Tipp led by 0-5 to 0-3 at half-time, Zi Yan Spillane and Lorna McNamara getting on the mark for the visitors. 

Clare drew level at the three-quarter mark but two converted frees by Devane edged Tipp two ahead. Eimear Kelly and Ereena Fryday swapped point and it looked like Bill Mullaney’s squad would edge a vital win over Conor Dolan and John Carmody’s unit but Daly and then the nerveless Morey snatched a draw.  

Antrim marked their return to senior fare with a famous  4-18 to 1-10 victory over Offaly in St Brendan’s Park, Birr. Róisín McCormick clocked up a goal and eight points but she had plenty of support, with Áine Magill grabbing 2-2 and Caitrin Dobbin helping herself to 1-3. 

There was no hint of what was the come in the first half, with Offaly leading until Magill’s first green flag just before the interval. A seventh minute goal by Mairéad Teehan gave the Faithful the advantage and points from Sarah Harding, Aisling Brennan and Teehan kept them ahead but Antrim had drawn level when Magill struck on the stroke of half-time.  

A couple of points from Teehan maintained the hosts’ interest but when McCormick billowed the net in the 40th minute, the Saffrons opened up and Offaly had no answer, Dobbin and Magill helping themselves to further goals on a memorable day for Antrim camogie. 

The competition’s other Ulster representatives Down poked the bear when Anna Rogan’s goal straight after the resumption moved them within touching distance of Kilkenny at Liatroim. The Cats opened up thereafter and with Denise Gaule clocking up 13 points in a free-ridden affair, eased clear to a 1-23 to 1-10 triumph. 

Mary O’Connell had a very good period at the beginning of the third quarter and her goal, allied to a brace of points ensured that Brian Dowling’s visitors led at half-time by 1-11 to 0-8. 

Niamh Mallon was the primary scorer for Down and she would go on to score nine points, with five of those coming from play in another brilliant performance. Paul Donnelly’s team battled hard but with Gaule unerring from placed balls and Miriam Walsh among the others to find the target, Kilkenny outscored them by six points in the closing quarter. 

Cork, who were defeated by Galway in both last year’s All-Ireland and this year’s National League finals, began their championship programme with a 2-14 to 1-6 success over Wexford at Bellefield. 

Amy O’Connor’s pace and clinical finishing were decisive, the high-scoring St Vincent’s sharpshooter finishing up with 2-4, 2-3 of which came from play. Izzy O’Regan, Katrina Mackey and Emma Murphy hit a pair of points each and Chloe Sigerson clocked up four but Wexford showed more than enough to give Kevin Tattan hope that the Division 2 League champions can repeat their All-Ireland quarter-final qualification of last term. 

A Joanne Dillon goal early in the second half brought Wexford within five points of Matthew Twomey’s outfit, Ciara O’Connor having shot four of her five points at that juncture. Cork had another gear though. 

Dublin’s improvement under Adrian O’Sullivan continues as they defeated Waterford at Walsh Park by 1-11 to 0-12. They led by 1-8 to 0-8 at the change of ends, Aisling O’Neill, Jody Couch and Aisling Maher all multiple scorers, with Maher notching up the vital 25th-minute goal. 

Beth Carton and Abby Flynn were Waterford’s primary scorers and Carton brought her tally to six when equalising five minutes from the end of normal time. Maher restored the Dubs’ advantage from a free and after Clodagh Carroll received her marching orders with a second yellow card three minutes from time, O’Neill split the posts once more. 

Starts for Tierney-Martin, Masterson & McNulty in Zebre season finale

The Connacht matchday 23 has been named for tomorrow’s final game of the season against Zebre Parma at The Sportsground (k/o 5pm).

Andy Friend and his coaching staff have opted for a blend of youth and experience. Dylan Tierney-Martin is handed his first Connacht start at hooker, while there are also starts for Seán Masterson at openside flanker and Oran McNulty at full-back.

Centurions Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham partner Tierney-Martin in the front row, while locks Gavin Thornbury and Niall Murray are paired together. Masterson is accompanied in the back row by his brother Eoghan and Cian Prendergast at number 8.

Kieran Marmion and captain Jack Carty continue at 9 and 10 respectively, as do centres Tom Daly and Tom Farrell. The side is completed by wingers Alex Wootton and John Porch.

Included on the bench are departing players Ultan Dillane, Abraham Papali’i and Sammy Arnold who will make their final appearances for the club if called upon.

As is tradition in Connacht, all the departing players will be presented to the supporters after the final whistle – the first time since pre-COVID that such a presentation will be able to take place.

Commenting on the team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend says:

“Even though we missed out on the playoffs we have plenty to play for tomorrow. Finishing with a 50% win record is important, but more so is finishing on a high at our home ground – both for our playing group and our supporters.

The likes of Dylan, Seán and Oran all deserve their opportunity tomorrow and I know the departing players involved will savour the experience as well.”

Saturday 21st May, 17:00 @ The Sportsground

15. Oran McNulty (8)
14. John Porch (58)
13. Tom Farrell (78)
12. Tom Daly (60)
11. Alex Wootton (33)
10. Jack Carty (179)
9. Kieran Marmion (208)
1. Denis Buckley (207)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (5)
3. Finlay Bealham (173)
4. Gavin Thornbury (62)
5. Niall Murray (34)
6. Eoghan Masterson (118)
7. Seán Masterson (17)
8. Cian Prendergast (30)

16. Dave Heffernan (164)
17. Matthew Burke (38)
18. Jack Aungier (31)
19. Ultan Dillane (126)
20. Abraham Papali’i (24)
21. Colm Reilly (8)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (52)
23. Sammy Arnold (37)

“Every week brings a tough game, we need to keep up our form and play to the level that we know we can.”- Match Preview (H) v Athlone Town

Galway United host Athlone Town at Eamonn Deacy Park this Friday – kick-off is at 7.45pm.

The Tribesmen go into this week’s fixture against Athlone Town in superb form following two 4-0 away victories in a row. Tickets for this week’s match can be bought HERE

United made it six wins on the bounce in the First Division after defeating Wexford FC 4-0 at Ferrycarrig Park last Friday. Stephen Walsh added two more goals to his ever-growing goal tally while Killian Brouder and David Hurley scored either side of Walsh’s double to give the Tribesmen an impressive victory. Read the report from last week’s game HERE

John Caulfield’s side are level on points with Cork City at the top of the table going into Friday’s fixture against Athlone, a contest that the United manager is not taking lightly.

“We are playing our first Friday night game in over a month so we are looking forward to a big crowd coming to Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday,” Caulfield told the club’s media team.

“We are playing a rejuvenated Athlone team under Dermot Lennon. They were narrowly beaten by Waterford, Longford and Cork in their last couple of matches.

“Every week brings a tough game, we need to keep up our form and play to the level that we know we can.”

“We know how good they are but we are on a good run of form ourselves at the moment so we are hoping to try and continue that.”- Match Preview (A) v Wexford FC

Galway United travel to Ferrycarrig Park this Friday to face Wexford FC – Kick-off at 7.45pm.

United will aim to make it six victories on the bounce when they take on Wexford in the south-east. Supporters bus is available HERE

The Tribesmen made it five wins on the bounce when they defeated Cobh Ramblers 4-0 at St Colman’s Park last Friday. Max Hemmings, Edward McCarthy (X2) and Manu Dimas scored the goals in an emphatic victory down south. United remain in second position on the table going into this week’s fixture. Three points would bring John Caulfield’s side level with current leaders Cork City.

Wexford FC sit in sixth place in the First Division ahead of Friday’s meeting at Ferrycarrig Park. Ian Ryan’s outfit were defeated 2-1 by Longford Town at the Bishopsgate in their previous fixture.

“It is another exciting game against Wexford this week,” Caulfield told the club’s media team.

“Ian Ryan has assembled a very strong squad; they came to Terryland earlier in the season and got a 1-1 draw.

“We know how good they are but we are on a good run of form ourselves at the moment so we are hoping to try and continue that.”

Mack Hansen signs new long-term deal with Connacht Rugby

Connacht Rugby have announced Irish international Mack Hansen has committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new contract until 2025.

Hansen had 12 months remaining on his existing contract but has now agreed to extend his time at the club by at least a further two years beyond his current deal.

The back three player has enjoyed a stunning first season at the club, scoring 6 tries in 14 matches since arriving from the Brumbies. His performances earned him a first call-up to the Ireland squad for the November internationals, and he then became a mainstay in matchday 23 for the Guinness Six Nations, starting in four of Ireland’s five games and scoring a famous try against France in Paris.

At this week’s Connacht Rugby Awards, Hansen has been nominated for both the Players’ Player and Fans’ Player of the Year Awards.

Mack Hansen says the next three seasons will be an exciting time for the club:

“Committing my future at Connacht was a no-brainer. Ever since I arrived in Ireland I cannot speak highly enough of the staff and my teammates who have made me feel right at home. Personally I’m pleased with how my first season has gone and now I want to do everything I can to help the club achieve success for the next three seasons.

The possibility of training and playing in Connacht Rugby’s new Stadium and High Performance Centre was also a major attraction for me, so I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and for Connacht.”

Head Coach Andy Friend has also welcomed today’s news:

“Mack has made an immeasurable impact on the club since his arrival. He’s a popular character with the players, staff and supporters and it’s been really pleasing to see him take to rugby in Ireland like a duck to water. For him to commit the next three years of his career to Connacht when he’ll only get better is a really strong show of faith in where we’re going as a club on and off the field, and I look forward to seeing Mack continue to develop and grow as a player during that time too.”