“We’re on a really good run of form and we want to keep it going.”- Match Preview: Galway United (A) v Athlone Town

Galway United make the short trip up the M6 to Athlone Town for their seventh outing of the SSE First Division on Friday night – kick off is at 7:45pm.

The Tribesmen are looking to continue their perfect start to the 2023 campaign which sees them sit at the summit of the First Division table.

 Meanwhile, Athlone Town are coming into this one off the back of an away victory over Kerry FC last Friday night. 

Manager John Caulfield spoke ahead of Friday night’s fixture: ‘

We’re looking to keep our run going. They (Athlone) are really powerful up front in the forward positions, but at the same time, we’re on a really good run of form and we want to keep it going.”

Six Internationals drafted in for Benetton challenge

Grand Slam winners Mack Hansen and Bundee Aki have both returned to the Connacht starting XV for Saturday’s EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 meeting with Benetton in Treviso (k/o 3pm).

Hansen features for the first time since playing in every minute of Ireland’s Six Nations success, while Aki make his first appearance for Connacht since the Christmas interpro against Ulster.

Their respective returns are among the six changes made from the side that beat Edinburgh last week, with fellow internationals Dave Heffernan, Leva Fifita, Paul Boyle and Tiernan O’Halloran also coming into the starting team.

Heffernan is joined by props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier while Niall Murray partners Fifita in the second row. The back row sees flankers Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver join number 8 Boyle.

The 9-10 combo of captain Caolin Blade and David Hawkshaw is unchanged, while Tom Farrell partners Aki at outside centre. The inclusion of Hansen and O’Halloran means John Porch moves to the right wing.

Speaking following the team announcement, Director of Rugby Andy Friend said:

“There was lots to like about last weekend’s win, so it’s a brilliant situation we find ourselves in where we can bring six experienced internationals into the team for this game. That experience will be very important in knockout rugby, particularly away against a Benetton side who will also welcome back some important players. 

I’m very confident that we have the sufficient squad depth to challenge on both fronts in this final block of games. What’s important now is to build on our recent performances as we attempt to progress through to the next stage of this competition.”


Saturday 1st April, 15:00 Irish time @ Stadio Comunale di Monigo


15. Tiernan O’Halloran (217)
14. John Porch (76)
13. Tom Farrell (94)
12. Bundee Aki (123)
11. Mack Hansen (24)
10. David Hawkshaw (13)
9. Caolin Blade (165)
1. Peter Dooley (15)
2. Dave Heffernan (179)
3. Jack Aungier (47)
4. Leva Fifita (23)
5. Niall Murray (51)
6. Cian Prendergast (42)
7. Conor Oliver (58)
8. Paul Boyle (84)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (19)
17. Jordan Duggan (37)
18. Sam Illo (9)
19. Oisin Dowling (39)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (15)
21. Kieran Marmion (225)
22. Cathal Forde (11)
23. Shane Jennings (2)

John Muldoon appointed to Connacht Rugby coaching team

Connacht Rugby are delighted to confirm the appointment of former club captain John Muldoon to the Professional coaching team on a two-year deal.

Muldoon will have responsibility for the lineout and maul, working in conjunction with Colm Tucker who will remain in charge of the scrum and breakdown.

John Muldoon made an unrivalled contribution to Connacht Rugby over a 15 year career, playing a record 327 times for the club and captaining the side to the historic PRO12 Championship in 2016.

Since his retirement in 2018 Muldoon has gained extensive coaching experience in a 5-year period with Bristol Bears. He was first appointed as defence coach before taking on responsibility for the forwards, helping the side win a Challenge Cup in 2020 and then a 1st place finish in the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership league table.

Head Coach Pete Wilkins says:

“John Muldoon needs no introduction, but it’s worth stressing that first and foremost he’s an excellent coach, who has clearly made a huge contribution in his 5 years at Bristol. I worked with John during his last season at Connacht – and my first – and it was clear at that stage he had all the attributes to become a top-class coach. It’s been great to see that early potential realised over the last few seasons and I look forward to him bringing that experience back to Connacht Rugby

Secondly, very few people understand the culture and values of Connacht Rugby like John does. He’s experienced first-hand all the highs and lows, and has a connection with this place that cannot be overstated. That passion and knowledge will be a benefit to all of us, and I know everyone who has an interest in Connacht Rugby will be delighted to see him back in the West.”            

John Muldoon says:

“I’m very excited to be coming back to Connacht Rugby. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years and I’m really looking forward to moving back to Galway and getting to work with the boys.

There’s some familiar faces but a lot of new ones too, since my time there. In that regard I am excited by the blend of young talent coming through within the squad, coupled with the quality and experience of some of the more experienced guys. Dewald’s done an exceptional job the last two years and I want to build on that over the coming seasons.

I’ve obviously been watching Connacht from afar and its clear the team have been building momentum throughout the season. From speaking to Pete these last couple of weeks I’m excited about his vision for where he hopes to take the team and I am delighted to be able to play my part on that journey and deliver on the level of ambition that everyone with an interest or involvement in Connacht Rugby is striving to achieve.”

O’Reilly goal propels Galway to Division 1A final 

©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir

A 48th minute goal by ace poacher Ailish O’Reilly turned the Very Camogie League Division 1A tie between Cork and Galway on its head, propelling the visitors to a 1-11 to 1-10 victory at Páirc Uí Chaoimh that rubber-stamped the champions’ place in the final against the Rebels in two weeks. 

Cathal Murray’s outfit were given a chance as two injury-time points by Kilkenny’s Denise Gaule consigned Tipperary to a 0-14 to 0-13 loss to at UPMC Nowlan Park yesterday. 

Had the Premiers won, Galway would have needed a mathematical miracle to advance. Due to that result, a draw was sufficient but they were able to inflict a first reverse of the campaign on Cork. 

With the two teams scheduled to kickstart the championship in the first round, they will be very well acquainted by the first week in June. 

Galway supporters got an early boost when much like Dublin footballers and Stephen Cluxton, they saw two-time All-Ireland-winning captain and seven-time All-Star, Sarah Dervan arriving with the squad. 

The visitors’ greater need was evident for most of the first half. Yet despite their dominance for 20 minutes or so, they only went in at the break level on 0-6 apiece, as the Rebels managed to reset and find a completely different level of workrate and intensity in the closing 15. 

Carrie Dolan and Amy O’Connor have been their teams’ leading scorers and they exchanged early points but it was the former who had far more of a say, as Cork were unable to get their talisman into the game at all and on the rare occasion the sliotar did go somewhere in her vicinity, the likes of Rachel Hanniffy, Shauna Healy and Róisín Black were commanding. 

©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Less than 24 hours after scoring a goal for the footballers in their win over All-Ireland champions Meath, Libby Coppinger was imperious at the other end but Dolan restored Galway’s advantage with a lovely score from play and by the time she scored her fifth point, her side was leading by 0-6 to 0-2. 

They failed to score again in the half though, as Cork, following a stoppage for treatment to Laura Treacy, moved up a couple of gears, led by the athleticism and shooting of Saoirse McCarthy. 

McCarthy has flourished since being relocated to midfield this term and she thundered into the fray with three consecutive points. A pointed free by O’Connor brought the teams level. 

The momentum continued with Matthew Twomey’s side after the resumption, Fiona Keating and Sorcha McCartan, from a long-distance free, pointing either side of a score from Shannon Corcoran. 

A 42nd minute goal from Emma Murphy seemed significant in a such a low-scoring encounter and a glorious score it was. Cork worked it out in trademark fashion from a short puckout to Méabh Cahalane, who drove forward before delivering towards Murphy. The Glen Rovers forward used her body well to make space, soloed in from the flank and from a very tight angle close to the endline, sent a rasper to the net. 

A further boost came with the arrival of Orla Cronin for her first appearance of the season, having stepped away last year but disaster struck – for Cork and Tipperary – when Molly Lynch, who had been the epitome of poise between the posts, mis-controlled. That allowed O’Reilly to close her down and then block the netminder’s attempted pass. O’Reilly latched onto the sliotar first and hit a ground-shot to the net. 

That put a pep in the Galway step and three pointed frees from Dolan to bring her tally to nine edged them home.  

Connacht squad named for visit of Edinburgh

The Connacht coaching team have made five changes to their starting XV for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship meeting with Edinburgh at The Sportsground (k/o 3.00pm). 

Andy Friend’s side are aiming for their fifth straight win in the Championship, which would be their longest unbeaten run in the competition since the 2015/16 season.

There are three changes in the pack with Peter Dooley, Oisín Dowling and Jarrad Butler coming in, while there are starts for Diarmuid Kilgallen and Oran McNulty in the backs.

Dylan Tierney-Martin and Jack Aungier are alongside Dooley in the front row, while Dowling has Niall Murray for company in the second row. The pack is completed by flankers Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver.

Caolin Blade again captains the side from scrum-half with David Hawkshaw alongside him, while for the fourth straight game the centre pairing is Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell. John Porch completes the side on the left wing.

Speaking following the team announcement, Director of Rugby Andy Friend said:

“Tomorrow is the start of a massive block of games for us. We’re where we want at this stage of the season, with our destiny in our own hands knowing if we keep winning games then we reach playoff rugby. We’ve won 4 in a row in the URC so there’s a real sense of momentum within the group, and with a massive crowd behind us at The Sportsground we’ll do everything to keep that run going.”

Saturday 25th March, 15:00 @ The Sportsground


15. Oran McNulty (13)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (14)
13. Tom Farrell (93)
12. Cathal Forde (10)
11. John Porch (75)
10. David Hawkshaw (12)
9. Caolin Blade (164)
1. Peter Dooley (14)
2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (18)
3. Jack Aungier (46)
4. Oisín Dowling (38)
5. Niall Murray (50)
6. Cian Prendergast (41)
7. Conor Oliver (57)
8. Jarrad Butler (110)

16. Dave Heffernan (178)
17. Jordan Duggan (36)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (77)
19. Darragh Murray (7)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (14)
21. Kieran Marmion (224)
22. Tom Daly (73)
23. Shane Jennings (1)

“We want to keep our good form going” – Match Preview: Galway United (H) v Longford Town

Galway United face Longford Town at Eamonn Deacy Park this evening (Friday) Kick-off is at 7:45pm. 

United face another stern test this evening as Longford Town make the short trip down the N6 to take on John Caulfield’s league leaders.

The Tribesmen collected all 3 points once again last week as they ran out 2-0 winners away to Cobh Ramblers.

Longford meanwhile, narrowly lost out to Finn Harps, losing by one goal to nil at Bishopsgate. 

The emphasis will be on United to break down Longford’s watertight defence, something manager John Caulfield is conscious of:

They’re a very well organised team, very solid, they’ve only conceded two goals in their opening 5 games”.

“Every week brings a different challenge.” – Match Preview: Galway United (H) v Kerry FC

Galway United take on Kerry FC at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening (Friday) – Kick-off is at 7:45 pm.

United return to Terryland looking to maintain their 100% start to the season as they face Kerry in what will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides.

The Tribesmen secured a statement victory away to Waterford last time out thanks to Vincent Borden’s third goal of the season. Full report HERE

24 February 2023; Rob Slevin of Galway United celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division match between Galway United and Treaty United at Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway. Photo by John Sheridan/Sportsfile

Meanwhile, Kerry earned their first point of the campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Treaty United.

John Caulfield spoke ahead of Friday night’s contest:

“It’s great to see Kerry in the league. They are a new team, but they have plenty of guys with League of Ireland experience, and we are well aware of their attacking threats.”

“It is our second home game – there will be another big crowd.”

“Every week brings a different challenge. We had a good win last week, and we need to build on that.”

Sean Jansen to join Connacht Rugby from Leicester Tigers

Connacht Rugby have announced the signing of Irish-qualified number 8 Sean Jansen from the Leicester Tigers.

23 years old and originally from Dunedin in New Zealand, Jansen joined the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions in January 2022 from the Otago Rugby Football Union. He has featured 15 times for the club, predominately at number 8 but can also play across the back row.

A powerful ball-carrier, Jansen has scored 5 tries during his spell at Leicester and has made 3 appearances so far in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Having grown up in New Zealand, Jansen attended Otago Boys High and played junior rugby with North Island RFC, representing North Otago. In 2021, prior to joining the Leicester Tigers, he was named Otago’s Development Forward of the Year.

Jansen has signed a two-year deal and qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents who were born in Monasterevin and Belfast.

Commenting on the signing, Head Coach Pete Wilkins says:

“We had been tracking Sean’s career in provincial rugby in New Zealand, and the growth we have seen in his game since joining Leicester Tigers made it clear to us how much value he could add to our back row. He brings enormous physicality in every game he plays. He carries and tackles hard, and his physical profile gives us something a bit different in that position. I’m delighted that he has chosen to join us and we look forward to him making a big impact next season.”

Sean Jansen says:

“Joining Connacht is a very exciting opportunity for me. The prospect of playing in the URC and in front of such a passionate fanbase is one that really appeals to me. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the people there, so I can’t wait to make the move over in the summer and do my bit to help the club succeed in the years ahead.

First Ever University Fitness Games Comes to Ireland

Michael Murphy (Head of Sport, ATU Donegal), Neil Barrett (Lecturer, ATU Donegal), Katie Gibbons and Fionnan Coyle (students on the BSc (Hons) in Sport & Exercise programme) launching the University Fitness Games at An Danlann Sports Centre, ATU Donegal, who are hosting the event.

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) will host the first ever University Fitness Games on Saturday 25 March at the universities Letterkenny campus.  Third level students enrolled in universities from all over the island of Ireland will compete to see who is the fittest student in Ireland. This is the first event of its kind in terms of its target audience, and the hope is it will grow from strength to strength in the coming years.

Speaking about the event, Michael Murphy, Head of Sport at ATU Donegal said; “we are delighted to be hosting this event in An Danlann Sports Centre, Letterkenny. This event is targeting students of all fitness levels within the third-level sector, with all kinds of abilities. I would greatly encourage students to consider the challenge”. 

Neil Barrett, Sports Lecturer at ATU Donegal outlined the scale and structure of the event, as ATU looks to profile and target the rapidly growing “fitness industry” market sector. 

This event is open to 80 individual competitors, 40 male and 40 female. Competitors will take part in a minimum of three workouts which will test their strength, power, endurance, and speed. Those that qualify will then enter a semi-final and potentially qualify for the final.  

The event is being led out by the sports academic team and sports students at ATU Donegal. On Friday evening, 24 March, a series of sport and performance webinars will be live streamed by academic staff from all campuses within the ATU covering areas such as S&C, nutrition and sleep. Anyone can register to attend these webinars virtually and further detail will be published on ATU social media channels in due course.

It is also possible to attend the event as a spectator. It promises to be a great spectacle, different to regular sporting events that take place in the region.  Speaking about the competition ethos, Michael Margey, Head of Faculty of Business at ATU Donegal commented:  “this event is not just for elite athletes. It is for all individuals who wish to test their fitness levels, whilst participating in a day of fun and hopefully meeting new friends. We are delighted to be the first to launch this type of event to the third-level sector.”

Nicola Dunnion, Head of Department of Tourism and Sports noted a special work of thanks to the companies who are sponsoring the event, BLKBox equipment sponsor, iRadio media sponsor and O’Reilly’s sports apparel sponsor. Finally, a word of appreciation to the No Barriers Foundation who are helping on the day with equipment and personnel. 

For any third level student at a university in Ireland who wishes to enrol, or for anyone who wishes to attend as a spectator on the day, registration is required in advance. First prize is €500 each for the fittest male and fittest, with second and third prizes also.  

Competitors can register here: https://competitioncorner.net/events/9504

Spectator tickets can be purchased here: https://competitioncorner.net/events/9504/merchandise

“We know we have to be at our best and play very well.”- Match Preview- Galway United (A) v Waterford FC

Galway United take on Waterford FC at the RSC in their third outing of the 2023 First Division season this evening (Friday) – kick-off is at 7.45pm.

The Tribesmen will aim to continue their unbeaten record this week following their opening two victories. Last time out, United overcame Treaty United 1-0 at Eamonn Deacy Park thanks to a fine header from Rob Slevin in the first half. Full report HERE

24 February 2023; Rob Slevin of Galway United celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division match between Galway United and Treaty United at Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway. Photo by John Sheridan/Sportsfile

Tonight’s opposition, Waterford FC, began their campaign with an emphatic 3-0 win over Wexford FC before the Blues drew 1-1 with Longford Town last week.

Ahead of today’s crucial clash, manager John Caulfield said:

“Waterford are similar to last year – they are very dynamic going forward and create lots of chances.

“We are looking forward to the game, we have prepared well all week and there is a great buzz amongst the squad.

“The games between the two teams are always exciting so we know we have to be at our best and play very well.”