Galway city clubs Galway Corinthians RFC and Galwegians have joined forces to stream their upcoming Connacht Senior League game on Friday evening (Kick Off-8pm).
 
Technically, the responsibility will be taken on by Rugby Smarts and the game will be broadcast on the respective clubs Facebook pages with John Mulligan and James Heaslip on commentary duty.
 
Apart from it being a local Derby, the game also has an added bite as both teams have already tasted defeat in their opening games of the returning competition. On week one, Corinthians were beaten 32-26 by Ballina while the following week saw Galwegians beaten 42-10 by Sligo making this Friday’s game a must win for both sides.
 
The new formatting of the league sees the team on top qualifying directly for the Connacht Senior Cup final and also having the honour of representing the province in the Bateman Cup, the competition traditionally held for the four Provincial Cup winners but this year featuring the Connacht Senior League Champions.
 
While it may be difficult for either Corinthians or Galwegians to get that top spot following their opening day defeats, there is still a lot to play for in the league with positions playing an important part in the following Senior Cup with positions post league determining the Cup quarter and semi-final places.
 
Both teams will also see this as important in their preparation for the Energia All-Ireland League which gets underway next month.
 
With all rugby called off last season because of the pandemic, this game will also be the first time that the clubs have met in competitive action at senior level since their meetings at the beginning of the 19/20 season. The teams met in the space of a few weeks. First in the Connacht Senior League and then in the Energia League with Corinthians winning both games.
 
President of Galway Corinthians RFC Kieran Faherty is looking forward not only to Corinthians first home game of the season but also to the renewal of one of the most historic local rivalries in rugby.
 
“You know, there is some sort of normality on the way, when you have the opportunity of hosting this great Galway rugby rivalry.
 
“Corinthians RFC looks forward to welcoming our historic rivals and neighbours Galwegians on Friday.
 
“We hear a lot about great sporting communities and rugby has ours too. Heroes from both clubs who provide a great sporting experience for girls and boys across the city and beyond.
 
“At a time when the professional ship seems to be sailing further away from the amateur clubs we still are “Pulling like dogs” in our small boats and continuing to produce a rich harvest that regularly represents province and country.”

 
Mr Faherty pointed to the coaching that exists in Corinthians at underage level that has reaped rewards this season already. “Corinthians alone had thirteen players between boys and girls selected on Connacht teams this weekend. We also had Rhiann Heary who was capped by Connacht at Senior interprovincial level against Leinster on Saturday last. Rhiann is the first Corinthian to be capped at women’s senior level for some time and it was a wonderful honour for the club to have a senior interprovincial player representing the province.”
 
“I also cannot forget the history that was made with the appointment of Yvonne Comer to the IRFU committee. Yvonne’s appointment is testament to the work that is being done in the women’s game in Corinthians and we all wish her well in her tenure.”
 
“I would also like to take this opportunity when I have it to congratulate Cathal Forde and Eoin De Buitlear who were recently capped for the Ireland U20s. They are another great example of the work done underage at the club.”

 
The Corinthians president is expecting a real local derby this Friday.
 
“Friday night’s game will showcase some exciting new young talent from both clubs in what will hopefully be an exciting old fashioned full blooded local Derby battle and all who are there or watching on stream will be given a true Corinthian hospitality.”
 
It was a sentiment echoed by his opposite number Carl Blake who will be in his first official role as president following the Galwegians AGM on Wednesday evening last.
 
“After a very long wait, we are delighted to return to rugby and can’t wait to renew our acquaintances with our greatest rivals of all in Corinthians.
 
“As the incoming President of Galwegians, there is no more fitting game to start a term of office than this! And quite frankly 2 years has been far too long a gap to go without a Wegians – Corinthians derby.
 
“However as we know that’s no fault of anyone’s, it was the cruel hand we were dealt for the last 18 months. But all the more reason to relish a derby game.

 
Mr Blake concluded with the hope that once again the Corinthians and Galwegians rivalry will show what is great in the game in Connacht.
 
“There is a very rich history between our two clubs, and I have no doubt that Friday’s game will add to that and help promote the club game in our city and province.”
 
While the game will certainly be a tough encounter on the field, off the field, both clubs have agreed to share the costs of the streaming and the sponsorship that has been provided means that neither club had to foot the cost of the event on their own.
 
Streaming details and links will be available and publicised through the club’s social media channels ahead of the game and regardless of the result; one thing that will cheers everyone up will be the return of Senior club rugby to the city.

Everyone at Connacht Rugby was saddened to hear of the death of Connacht Rugby Hall of Famer Brendan Guerin.
 
A former Irish international and player for Connacht and Galwegians, Brendan gave a lifetime of volunteerism to rugby and made a profound difference to all facets of the game that he was involved in.
 
Originally a native of Co. Waterford, Brendan won a Leinster Schools Senior Cup medal with Castleknock before joining Galwegians in 1955. A second-row, he was an integral part of the legendary five-in-a-row League & Cup-winning team from 1956-60. He won his solitary cap for Ireland against Scotland in 1956, and went on to represent Connacht for many years.
 
He later became a Connacht selector and a sub-selector for the Irish team back when Connacht had no representative on the selection committee.
 
A true clubman, Brendan then served many years on the Galwegians committee and was Galwegians President in 1973-74.
 
Both his sons Enda and Shane were Galwegians club captains and each went on to play for Connacht.
 
In 2009 Brendan received the Connacht Rugby Hall of Fame Award.
 
Our condolences goes to Brendan’s family, friends and everyone at Galwegians RFC.

A special interpro half-time minis rugby took place at The Sportsground last Friday with 6 clubs in all taking part.
 
Kids from Galwegians, Gort, Galway Bay, Oughterard, Corinthians and Tuam played in front of a sell-out crowd during the break in Connacht’s Guinness PRO14 loss to Leinster.
 
Check out some of the best pics below!

Women’s Rugby in Connacht is thriving like never before, and now Connacht Rugby is shining a light on all the great work that has been done in the past and is continuing to take place around the province to promote the female rugby stars of the future.
 
Every week you’ll get to read a bit about every club in Connacht that offers a Girls Rugby programme. You can find out about what they’ve done in the past, how many teams they have, what times they train and who are the people that bring Girls Rugby to life in the club.
 
This week we have Galwegians RFC, with text and pics with thanks to Carl Blake.
 

Womens Rugby in Galwegians has been going strong now for over 20 years. From humble beginnings, the idea was first mooted in the Glenina clubhouse during what used to be the annual Easter Squash Interpros in the mid-90’s. Three club members, Stephanie Dowling-Folan, Ann Lyng and the late Rod O’Driscoll agreed to set up a ‘Wegians Womens Rugby team. In their first game they travelled with 8-9 players and had to borrow players from Shannon! But they soon got traction and established themselves on the provincial and national stage.
 
Senior Honours
Having become part of the All-Ireland First division furniture during this time, the Blue Belles had a long time to wait before finally landing high-profile silverware. Their big breakthrough came in 2011 when they won the Paul Flood (Leinster Cup) Trophy beating Old Belvedere. A strong and largely settled squad led by Emer O’Dowd went on to land three All-Ireland Cup titles in the next five years, with wins over Highfield in 2011 and 2014 and then Cooke in 2016.
 
International Caps
Stephanie Dowling and Sue Ramsbottom became the first Blue Belles to get an international cap not long after the team’s formation in the late 90’s, with Nuala ni Chadhain following in their footsteps in the early noughties. Fast forward to present day and it is now commonplace for a handful of Wegians to feature in the Womens international squad. In recent years names have included Ali Miller, Sene Naoupu and the long-serving Ruth O’Reilly, and this season’s squad includes Blue Belles Laura Feely, Edel McMahon, Nicole Fowley, AnneMarie O’Hora, Nichola Fryday, Mary Healy, Carol Staunton and Mairead Coyne.
 

Current Season
In recent times playing numbers have gone from strength to strength, and the seniors currently number ca. 50 fielding both a Firsts (AIL Div. 1) and Seconds squad (Connacht League). However like many amateur teams, they are very reliant on support resources and coaches. Connacht Rugby’s Fraser Gow has done an incredible job coaching the Blue Belles since taking over from Bundee Aki who had to take a step back last year, however coaching two squads is a big ask for any individual. The Senior team currently lie sixth in AIL Division 1, having been competitive in most games this season, while no. 8 Denise Redmond is second-highest top scorer in the country.
 
Youths
At underage level things are also beginning to come together. With the influx of some minis who have mixed in with the boys in recent years, this season was the first ever that Wegians are fielding a Girls team at both U14 and U16 age grades. The U14’s are into the Plate semi-final after a comprehensive recent win away to Sligo. The U16’s have battled well throughout a long hard season. At U18s the numbers are lower, so the Blues have joined forces with Connemara Blacks in the Connacht League, however next year the U16s should progress through to this age grade.
So in a period of just over 20 years, the girls have carved out their own identity in Galwegians. While the club itself is now very preoccupied in seeking a new home to cater for its burgeoning playing base, the Women’s game has definitely become a permanent fixture in the club, and long may it continue.
 

More silverware is up for grabs on Sunday when 10 teams compete in 5 league finals across the province, ranging from the U15 Boys to the Women’s League.
 
First up at 12pm are the Division 2 finals at U15 and U17 level. Corrib will play host to the U15 Division 2 decider between near neighbours Monivea and Dunmore, while at the same time in Ballina there’s a meeting of Westport and Sligo in the U17 Division 2 final.
 
One hour later at 1pm to more deciders will kick-off in Ballinrobe and Ballyhaunis. Ballinrobe will play host to the Connacht Women’s League final as Westport take on NUIG, while Ballinasloe and Galwegians will face off in the U17 Division 1 final in Ballyhaunis.
 
The last of the deciders gets going at 1.30 in the U15 Division 1 final as Galwegians take on Buccaneers, with Ballinasloe acting as the venue.
 
Best of luck to all 8 clubs, and we’ll have the results for you on the Connacht Club & Community Facebook page on Sunday evening.

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