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It’s been a long wait and it's nearly over. Since Mayo last tasted competitive action almost every other county has been involved in championship action, with Sligo the only side to have not got their summer underway by the time Mayo throw in against Galway on Sunday. This will be the first proper test of the Holmes and Connelly management ticket in the white heat of championship action and they couldn’t have asked for a more traditional joust than a meeting with Galway in their own back yard.
Connacht are not taking Sunday’s opponents Zebre lightly when the two clash in the RaboDirect Pro 12 in Parma.
John Muldoon, who is expected to win his 200th cap for Connacht when they face Cardiff in Arms Park this evening, says the province’s new crop of youngsters are keeping him on his toes.
By Linley MacKenzie
Do you remember the famous Trip to Tipp musical experiences? Are you too young to remember them?
Connacht and Harlequins renew European rivalry on Sunday when the two sides meet at the Twickenham Stoop in this season’s Amlin Challenge Cup third round.
My school, Carmelite College, Moate, won back to back All- Ireland Hogan Cup titles in 1980 and ’81. I was on the 1980 team. A couple of lads decided it would be a good idea (and it was) to organise a 30 year reunion last Saturday in Moate for both squads. I didn’t make it up in time for the golf or the walking tour of our old school (now closed), which started around 2 o’clock that afternoon. I arrived at the hotel at about 7.30pm and walked straight into a crowd of about 50 lads who, at that stage of the evening, were in right good form. They had the benefit of five or six hours in each other’s company and had managed, in that time, to reacquaint themselves, many not having met throughout the 30 years. It was a mortifying moment for me as I didn’t recognise half of my school mates initially. Many had, let’s just say, that wintered look about them. Two of the lads had emigrated to the US after leaving school. One of those two is now a policeman in New York, the other a successful business man in San Francisco. It was good to meet up with those lads after so many years. Val Daly was another member of the side. He arrived later than I, as he was in Tuam watching his native Mountbellew lose the county semi final to Killererin earlier that evening. The boys from the 1981 winning team had invited a couple of the lads from the beaten finalists of that year. So, in fact, the first faces I recognised when I went in the door were Sean Maher, John Finn, Seamus O’Brien and Ollie Kelly, all members of the Claremorris school team beaten by Moate. It was a wonderful night and highlighted for me the fact that friends made on the football field can last a life time.
Connacht’s much anticipated European semi-final has finally arrived. Tomorrow evening Connacht take on a red-hot Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final at the Galway Sportsground.