Connacht - Galway Sportsground

 

Connacht Rugby is the provincial side representing the West of Ireland, and base themselves in the wonderful city of Galway at the Sportsground. Often viewed as the younger sibling of Irish rugby due to traditionally low participation and support levels, Connacht were once under threat of extinction through the removal of funding. Today however, the sport is enjoying a boom period that has been reflected both on and off the pitch.

The arrival of Pat Lam as coach for the 2013-14 season saw an impressive rise in performances, culminating in the 2015-16 season when the side finished second in the Pro12 table ahead of their most established provincial rivals Ulster and Munster. After seeing off Glasgow Warriors at a packed Sportsground in the play-off semi-final, Connacht headed to Murrayfield for the final against old rivals Leinster. A superb performance in the Scottish capital saw Connacht lift the trophy, much to the delight of the fans who have stuck by them through the darker years.



Ground Information                                     Back to Top ^ 

The Sportsground is situated just to the East of the City Centre of Galway, and is used for both rugby union and greyhound racing. The stadium has a capacity of 7,500, though additional temporary capacity can be be brought in for big matches. The Main Stand runs the majority of the length of the pitch on one side of the ground, and has a large section of terracing at the front and covered indoor seating to the rear.

Behind the posts to the left of the Main Stand lies the Bohemore Terrace, and to the right sits the College Road Terrace, both standing areas that are uncovered and therefore exposed to the wind and rain off the Atlantic  that has been the undoing of many a visiting side to the Sportsground!


Opposite the Main Stand is the Clan Terrace, popular with both home and away fans for its atmosphere, shelter from the elements and close proximity to the clubhouse bar. Participation in the Heineken Cup and the success of the Irish team in recent years has boosted interest in Connacht, ably supported by the fans and local businesses who relentlessly promote the side in Galway. With attendances growing all the day, future plans for the redevelopment of the Sportsground are under way, including the addition of further seating.


Image - Owen Pavey



Getting There                                                                                   Back to Top ^ 


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By Car

Getting to the Sportsground by car isn't the easiest, but there are a few public car parks in the City Centre that are within walking distance (approximately 15 minutes).


By Train

Galway Ceannt rail station is located in the City Centre around 2km from the Sportsground. Iarnród Éireann operate regular services to Dublin (2.5 - 3 hours) and Limerick (2 hours)

By Air

With Galway airport no longer operating scheduled flights, the best bet for travellers to Connacht is to fly to either Shannon, Knock or Dublin airports.

Shannon Airport

Shannon is the closest airport to Galway, although is still around 80km from the ground. Flights operate to destinations including Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and the USA. There are regular bus services by Bus Eireann and Galway Bus from the airport, taking approximately 90 minutes.

Knock Airport

Knock Ireland West Airport in County Mayo is around 90km by road from Galway. This airport is smaller than Shannon but is also connected by bus to Galway in around 120 minutes, although timings are infrequent (operated by Bus Eireann).

Scheduled flights are operated by Aer Lingus, Flybe and Ryanair to destinations including London Gatwick, Edinburgh, Bristol and East Midlands. A quick note that Knock airport does charge customers prior to departure on the exit flight (currently 10 Euro), which can be a bit frustrating if you don't know in advance!

Dublin Airport

If you can't get a flight to either of the above, another alternative would be to fly to Ireland's principal airport in Dublin, 200km from Galway. A good quality road network and regular bus services between the two mean it isn't that much more inconvenient. Buses by Bus Eireann, Citylink and GoBus all run services taking around 3 hours, but they will be non-stop and comfortable (even with wifi on some buses). 


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In The Ground

There are plenty of bars at the Sportsground, both inside and outside of the stands.

Before/After the Game

Right beside the ground you'll find The Huntsman, and back in the City, there are plenty of good pubs in and around Eyre Square;

  • O'Connells is a small pub on the square that is particularly popular with Connacht fans,
  • McSwiggans on Woodquay is also recommended by the locals.
  • The Skeff on Eyre Square is a good spot for some post-game drinks, and sometimes offers free pints to match ticket holders.
If you want to keep the party going, there are a number of late bars (i.e. open until 2am on weekends) down at the bottom of Spanish Arch, including The Dail, Front Door, Busker Brownes and The King's Head.



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There are usually a few mobile food vans dotted around the ground, and inside the Main Stand there is a fast food-style outlet open on matchdays.

McDonagh's Restaurant and Fish and Chip Bar at the bottom of Shop Street is a popular spot with the locals, as is Quay Street Kitchen. The majority of the pubs listed above also do good grub, but if it's a hangover breakfast you are after look no further than Finnegans on Market Street accordingly to our man in Galway.

If you are looking for something a bit more upmarket, try Aniar (Galway's Michelin-starred restaurant) or the Park House Hotel on Eyre Square.


Image - Owen Pavey

Sleeping                                                                Back to Top ^

Galway is very popular with visitors, and has a ton of bed and breakfasts, hostels and hotels for away fans to avail of.

B&Bs

There are tons of these to choose from in Galway - an extensive list can be found here.

Hostels

As a stag and hen destination, Galway has more than its fair share of hostels.

  • Snoozles is a large budget option close to the bus station and the Sportsground. There are private en-suite rooms as well as typical hostel-style dorms.

  • Galway City Hostel is just off the main square, opposite the bus and train stations and also has a few private rooms.
  • Sleepzone is just to the North of the City Centre but within easy reach of everything.
  • Down on Quay Street you'll find Barnacles that can cater for groups of all sizes.

Hotels

  • Jury's Inn - located beside the Spanish Arch, close to the bars, restaurants and a subsidised car park.

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In Town

There is lots to like about Galway - a small, attractive city that is easy to navigate on foot. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants on offer in the busy pedestrianised Quay Street area and live music everywhere you look. If you need some sea air head over to the Promenade in Salthill.

Off the Beaten Path

Galway is used as a base by visitors to explore the wild West of Ireland. If you are short on time there are companies in Galway offering day trips to attractions such as the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara but the best way to explore if you can is with a hire car. Ferry trips also run to the rugged Aran Islands from Ros a Mhil port approximately 30km West of Galway.

Key Information

Disabled Supporters

  • There is limited wheelchair access in the Sportground for a covered section - tickets must be purchased in advance to avoid disappointment. 


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Dog's Life

  • The Sportsground also doubles as a greyhound racing venue, with dog racing taking place after some fixtures.

Europe

  • In the professional era, Connacht have usually been found knocking about in the lower reaches of the RaboDirect Pro12 and competing in the European Challenge Cup each season.

  • A big boost to the side came in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, when the success of fellow Irish side Leinster gifted Connacht a place at the top table with participation in the Heineken Cup. 

  • In their first season in the Heineken the side kept coming up short when it mattered before the men from the West fought to a dogged but historic first victory in the tournament over Harlequins at the Sportsground in their final group game. 

  • Connacht's superb performance in the Pro12 in the 2015-16 season means that they have qualified for Europe's premier competition on their own merit for the first time, and as top seeds to boot.

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