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Walsh the hero as Mervue Utd take spoils in Junior Cup clash



Mervue United B's Kyle O'Malley breaking away from Kilshanvey's Mark Devaney during the clubs' Connacht Shield tie at Fahy's Field. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

MERVUE United certainly appear to have the Indian sign over Athenry at the moment as Gareth Gorman’s side registered their second major cup victory over Seamie Crowe’s charges in Connacht Junior Cup mid-week action.

Previously drawn together in the FAI Junior Cup and from where Mervue emerged winners of a penalty shootout, the sides also faced one another in the opening round of the Connacht Junior Cup and the outcome was again the same as the home side prevailed by 2-1 under lights in Fahy’s Field.

A close range Eoin Concannon goal gave the home side an opening half lead, before Joey Byrne latched on to a through ball to fire home the equaliser. Enjoying the greater amount of possession, Athenry had a great opportunity to take the lead when awarded a penalty before the break, but Colm O’Donovan’s effort struck a post.

With the respective goalkeepers Peter Healy and James Healy impressing and making scores hard to come by, the tie remained level at the end of normal time.

However, in the opening half of extra time, Simon Walsh fired home the winner for Mervue and despite Athenry offering a huge threat, they were not able to rescue matters once more as the home side prevailed by 2-1 and, in the process, set up a Third Round tie against Ballymoe FC.

For Athenry to find themselves crashing out of the FAI Junior Cup, Connacht Junior Cup and Michael Byrne Cup (beaten by Renmore) in the opening round is nothing short of disastrous and while they lead the Premier Division table by seven points, they now have just 11 league games to look forward to for the remainder of the season.

Scoreless at the break, Loughrea did their best work in the second half to record an impressive 2-0 away Connacht Cup win over Ballina Town. They opened their account courtesy of a Darren Creaven shot, before Thomas Hoban headed home an Bruno Enrique cross for the second. Their reward in the next round is a home contest against Westport United on Sunday.

Moylough 79 will also face Mayo opposition this weekend when they host Castlebar Celtic, following a 4-2 success over Cois Farraige in Carraroe on Sunday. Marcus Finn, Michael Kelly, Gerard Donoghue and Liam Carty were all on the mark for the visitors, with just Ciarán Ó Droighneáin and Chris Beatty finding the range for the Connemara side.

Two up at the break, matters looked to be going the way of Bohemians as goals by Sammy Omokua and James Nolan had them in command as they led Ballisodare by 2-0. However, the home side produced a solid recovery to level matters at 2-2 and send the game to extra time and it was here that the Sligo side pressed home their advantage to secure a 4-2 win.

While the games played at the weekend were contests postponed before Christmas, this Sunday will see almost a full schedule of Third Round games down for decision, with St Bernard’s and Maree/Oranmore going head to head in Abbeyknockmoy, while Merlin Woods/Medtronic make the journey West to face MacDara in Carraroe in just two all local ties.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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