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Silver lining for Cardigan boxer Garan Croft at World Boxing Cup

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CARDIGAN’S very own Garan Croft, a talented light-middleweight boxer, has returned home to Crymych, proudly clutching a silver medal from the prestigious World Boxing Cup held in Cologne, Germany. The young pugilist, part of Team GB, showcased his mettle alongside eight other medalists, contributing significantly to Great Britain’s commendable performance at the international stage.

The journey to this momentous achievement began in the quaint village of Crymych, nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire, boasting a mere 800 inhabitants. Garan and his twin brother, Ioan, discovered their passion for boxing at the age of eight at the Cardigan Amateur Boxing Club. Their early dedication and innate talent propelled them to Cardiff, where they trained rigorously with the Welsh team. Their perseverance bore fruit in January 2022 when they earned a coveted spot in the Great Britain Podium Squad at the Team GB training camp in Sheffield.

The Croft twins’ prowess was further validated in March 2022 when they clinched silver medals at the European Under-22 Championships in Porec, Croatia. Subsequently, their stellar performance continued, with Ioan securing a gold and Garan a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later that summer.

Their exceptional skills did not go unnoticed. A Team GB review at the end of the previous year identified the Croft Twins as integral components of British boxing’s Olympic aspirations for Paris 2024. This recognition set the stage for their remarkable journey to the World Boxing Cup in Cologne.

At the highly competitive World Boxing Cup, Garan Croft found himself in the finals of the light-middleweight class, displaying remarkable prowess and determination. In a closely contested bout, he narrowly missed the gold, succumbing to a 3:2 defeat against Germany’s Magomed Schachidov. Despite the heart-wrenching loss, Garan’s silver medal stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment and talent.

Reflecting on the commendable performance of Team GB, GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken, lauded the team’s efforts. He remarked, “The World Boxing Cup in Cologne has been an excellent tournament that has provided our boxers with valuable experience. The quality of the competition has been very high with some excellent nations participating, and it has been a very good week for our team.”

The World Boxing Cup, organised by the German Boxing Association in collaboration with World Boxing, the new international federation dedicated to upholding boxing’s legacy within the Olympic Movement, witnessed a display of unparalleled talent from athletes worldwide.

Garan Croft’s achievement not only brings pride to his small hometown but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring boxers across the United Kingdom. As the Croft Twins and their teammates pave the way for future generations, their remarkable journey emphasises the importance of determination, dedication, and passion in the pursuit of excellence on the global stage.

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Clarby make it three wins in a row over The Vikings

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It was another wet weekend with very little football being played around the county, however Clarby’s pitch was playable and they’ll be grateful it was after they beat Hakin for the third time this season. An accomplishment they could only have dreamt of before the season began.

The visitors started the game far better than the hosts with Mason Dolling causing Clarby problems down the Vikings right hand side. It was Dolling who started the move for the opener as he played the ball to Shane Walsh at the far post who cut inside and set up Alfie Stotter who finished well to make it 0-1.

The hosts were struggling to get into the game but had the better of the last 10 minutes of the half. Laurie Haworth broke through but was unable to keep  the ball under control and run it out of play, however the hosts had some momentum going into the break.

That momentum continued into the second half and Clarby equalised in the 55th minute, a Travis Jones corner was flicked on to Laurie Haworth who was at back post to header home for his team. Hosts keeper Rhys Mansell was nearly caught out from a Stotter free kick from 30 yards, it took a wicked bounce and went over the bar much to Mansell’s relief.

Subsitute Rob Morgans nearly gave Clarby when he hit the woodwork from 20 yards out, the hosts were coming close and it was forward Ben John who found the net for Fox’s team to put them in the lead with only five minutes remaining. Matthew Davies broke down the right hand side and put it on a plate for John to make it 2-1 and he made no mistake. Davies himself then got on the scoresheet himself, sealing the victory in injury-time thanks to an assist from Laurie Haworth.

We caught up with Clarby manager Matthew Fox who was delighted with the win, “The lads fully deserved that win. There’s not many teams that beat Hakin once in a season let alone three times so that is some achievement from them”

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Ireland 31-7 Wales: Hosts make it three wins from three with Welsh victory

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IRELAND’S grand ambition for a successive Six Nations Grand Slam glimmered brighter after a commanding 31-7 triumph over Wales in the thrilling Round 3 encounter at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. The Irish side, undeterred and dynamic, orchestrated a performance that encapsulated their dominance in the tournament thus far, securing a bonus-point victory that keeps their Grand Slam dreams vividly alive.

In a game that showcased Ireland’s tactical acumen and resilience, hooker Dan Sheehan, wing James Lowe, full-back Ciaran Frawley, and lock Tadhg Beirne emerged as the heroes, each crossing the whitewash to contribute to the emphatic scoreline. Jack Crowley, the out-half, was impeccable, converting all attempts at goal, including a penalty and four conversions, ensuring a flawless day with the boot.

Wales, despite trailing 17-0 by the halftime whistle, showed moments of resurgence with a penalty try that saw Beirne sin-binned. However, their efforts to claw back into the game were thwarted by a relentless Irish defence, leaving them winless after three rounds.

The victory marks a historic 18th consecutive win for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and ties the record for an 11th successive Six Nations Test win, a testament to their continued excellence and a milestone shared with England’s streak from 2015 to 2017.

The match unfurled with Ireland asserting their dominance early on, rewarded with a penalty kick by Crowley following a high tackle on Lowe. Despite Wales’ formidable maul defence, Ireland’s persistence paid dividends with Sheehan’s try, courtesy of a powerful forward push and Crowley’s subsequent conversion enhancing their lead.

Wales’ captain, Dafydd Jenkins, found himself penalised, and Ireland opted for ambition over assurance, a decision that paid off when Lowe spectacularly finished in the corner, further extended by Crowley’s masterful conversion.

The Welsh side’s resolve was evident in their defensive efforts, yet Ireland’s strategic prowess shone through. Despite a penalty try awarded to Wales, Ireland’s control and execution remained unshaken, with their defence repelling Welsh advances effectively.

The narrative of the second half encapsulated Ireland’s capacity to absorb pressure and retaliate, highlighted by Frawley’s try in his first Test start and Beirne’s clinching score, underlining their depth and tactical intelligence.

Post-match reflections from both camps acknowledged the intensity of the encounter. Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell, praised the team’s adaptability and highlighted the need for review, particularly concerning penalties. Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, commended his team’s effort and identified physicality as a key area for growth.

Ciaran Frawley, reveling in the joy of his maiden Test start and try, underscored the team’s resilience and the collective drive that propelled them to overcome adversity and secure a significant victory.

This clash was more than a game; it was a testament to Ireland’s relentless pursuit of excellence and a stark reminder of the challenges that lie ahead in their quest for back-to-back Grand Slams. As the tournament progresses, Ireland’s blend of tactical brilliance, physical dominance, and unwavering spirit makes them formidable contenders, setting the stage for an enthralling conclusion to the Six Nations saga.#

Jack Crowley registered the first points of the day via a penalty
Ireland's Dan Sheehan celebrates after scoring their first try via a driving maul
James Lowe scored Ireland's second first-half try, after taking a superb Calvin Nash offload
Wales hit back through a penalty try decision early in the second half
Ireland's defence proved superb when under pressure in the second half
Full-back Ciaran Frawley crossed for Ireland's third try on his first Test start

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell told ITV Sport said: “There is a famous saying that each game takes it’s own course and that game had a bit of everything really from the sublime to the ridiculous.

“I thought we were a bit passive in the first half but I thought Wales were tenacious in defence. I thought we should have capitalised more.

“We had a good chat at half-time. The penalty count was evened up, we will have a good luck at that.

“Delighted to get that bonus point.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said after the game: “I can’t question how hard and the effort from the players. They probably out muscled us a bit in terms of collisions. That is a lesson for us.

“I feel like the score-line blew out a bit and probably wasn’t reflective of the effort we put in.

“You are playing against one of the best teams in the world and they thoroughly deserved to win with the quality they have got. We are on a journey.”

Try-scorer Ciaran Frawley after his first Test start said added: “Look, it was a bit of clunky in the first half.

“We were aware of that at half time. It was probably not the start we wanted, they came out and scored and we got the yellow card but to bounce back through all the adversity thrown at us and get the bonus point win was pretty special.

“I was delighted to get over. The players here are unbelievable, they know how to win.”

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Grand Slam dreams: Is Ireland set to extend winning streak against Wales?

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DUBLIN’S Aviva Stadium prepares to host a pivotal clash in the third round of the Six Nations Championship this Saturday, as Ireland looks to continue their Grand Slam quest against a struggling Welsh side. With kickoff scheduled for 2:15pm GMT, fans are gearing up for what promises to be a thrilling encounter in one of rugby’s most storied competitions.

Warren Gatland’s return to the Welsh fold brought a semblance of stability following a turbulent period, marked by a commendable World Cup performance. However, the Dragons face a daunting challenge in Dublin, arriving with an inexperienced squad and a record of two defeats from their opening Six Nations fixtures. In stark contrast, Andy Farrell’s Ireland is riding high on confidence, having bounced back from a World Cup quarter-final disappointment to lay down early markers in this year’s championship.

Ireland’s campaign kicked off with an impressive victory over France, followed by a resounding 36-0 win against Italy, positioning them at the top of the Six Nations table. The quest for another Grand Slam is well and truly alive, with the Welsh side the next hurdle in their path.

Pundits have weighed in with their predictions, reflecting the uphill battle Wales faces. Josh Graham expects Ireland to secure a victory by 11 points, acknowledging the Welsh resilience but doubting their ability to thwart the Irish momentum. Eddie McAteer foresees a more comfortable win for Ireland by 18 points, citing the team’s formidable form and cohesiveness. Similarly, Alan Pearey predicts a 14-point margin, underlining the gulf in class between the two sides this year.

Ireland not only aims for consecutive Grand Slams but also has its sights set on an unprecedented Six Nations feat – amassing a maximum of 28 points through five bonus-point victories and additional points for a clean sweep. With 26 points achieved in their 2018 Grand Slam year and 27 points last year, the ambition for a perfect scoreline adds an extra layer of excitement to their campaign.

The match will be broadcast live on ITV 1 in the UK, allowing fans across the nation and beyond to partake in the action from the iconic Aviva Stadium, which boasts a capacity of 51,711 spectators.

Historical head-to-head results between the two teams highlight Ireland’s recent dominance, with victories in the last four Six Nations encounters, including a significant 34-10 win in Cardiff last year. Team news reveals a strong lineup for Ireland, featuring key players such as Ciaran Frawley, Robbie Henshaw, and Josh van der Flier. Wales, captained by Dafydd Jenkins, fields a mix of experience and youth, with George North and Aaron Wainwright among the notable names.

As the Six Nations progresses, this clash between Ireland and Wales is set to be more than just a game – it’s a testament to the resilience, talent, and aspirations of two proud rugby nations. With Grand Slam dreams and national pride at stake, Saturday promises to deliver a spectacle that rugby fans will not want to miss.

Kick-off time 2:15pm GMT – Saturday 24 February. Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Capacity: 51,711

Ireland v Wales head-to-head results

2023 Six Nations: Wales 10-34 Ireland

2022 Six Nations: Ireland 29-7 Wales

2021 Six Nations: Wales 21-16 Ireland

2020 Six Nations: Ireland 24-14 Wales

2019 Six Nations: Wales 25-7 Ireland

Ireland v Wales team news

IRELAND Ciaran Frawley; Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Jack Crowley, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Joe McCarthy, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Oli Jager, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jack Conan, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Stuart McCloskey.

WALES Cameron Winnett; Josh Adams, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins (capt), Adam Beard, Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright. Replacements 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Keiran Hardy, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady.

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