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All National School players must be catered for



Date Published: {J}

COUNTY Galway Cumann na mBunscol Secretary Pat Kelly believes increasing levels of participation in Gaelic games and athletics among national school pupils, along with fostering respect among players towards referees and others, should be the primary objectives of the organisation heading into the future.


Since its foundation in 1928, Cumann na mBunscol has provided countless hours of fun and enjoyment for national school children the length and breadth of the country. In many respects, the organisation has been the lifeblood of the GAA, nurturing a great love of Gaelic games among the masses.

That said, even an organisation such as Cumann na mBunscol faces on-going challenges, particularly at local level. Despite providing a comprehensive programme of games annually, be it through the INTO Mini Sevens or the various school championships, Kelly insists more can be done to entice – and more importantly keep – young people involved in sport.

He cites his own school, Craughwell NS, as an example. Boasting of 280 pupils, he notes that out of, say, 140 boys, only 13 to 18 can line out in the hurling or football championships each year. “What about the rest?” asks the school principal.

He says that other codes, such as soccer and rugby, seem to place their emphasis on participation rather than competition, and while there is still a place for competitions, he believes getting greater numbers out on the playing fields has to become the priority. “We tend to look at these competitions from an adult perspective, not a child’s, who simply just want to play.”

Kelly highlights the avid opposition to the dismantling of U-12 county championship by GAA headquarters as one example. While recognising the value of the competition, he says the reason clubs have opposed the move is because the GAA are selling the ‘Go Games’ format as “non competitive”.

However, he adds: “I have never seen two kids playing with a ball who weren’t competitive. Again, it is the adult perspective against the child perspective. I would look at something like the ‘Go Games’ as creating greater levels of participation by more children, and we need that.

“When I see the players who we have lost on the way up, in our own club and other clubs, it is disappointing. Some of these guys fell away because they were a bit overweight or just couldn’t wield the hurl at the time. It is amazing though to see them in their later teens and they are already washed up as hurlers. It is a travesty that it is happening.”

The Craughwell native – who has played key roles in the promotion of hurling and camogie in the area over the years – says that has direct consequences for clubs’ senior teams, in that they are narrowing their player base considerably, simply by cultivating just the talented players at U-12 and U-14.

He says there is a mentality that if a player excels at U-14, he will do so at senior. In contrast, if a child does not make an impact at U-12 or U-14, clubs have the tendency – unintentionally – to marginalise these players.

“As a result, once they are picked for U-14, it is seen that these are the guys who will be picked up along the grades. The other lads then don’t bother and they go to play other sports. And we are losing those guys. What people don’t realise is that those U-14 players were the best players at ‘that’ time. I believe we are losing a huge volume of potential.”

Cumann na mBunscol, itself, is endeavouring to change this mindset. Kelly explains: “We are moving towards a situation where more children will participate than before. They will play a number of games where you have, say, 10-a -side, playing four quarters, and all the children that want to play will be allowed to play for two quarters. That is what we are heading towards, and we have to do that so more and more children play hurling, football, camogie and girls football.”

Another tool Cumann na mBunscol is using to promote participation is modifying the rules to ensure all players are involved in the games. “Already we have one hop, one solo in football and I can see the day where we will also have lift and strike in hurling.

“The reason we are doing that is to have more participation – that smaller players aren’t dominated by the one big player. Everybody agrees that is good – the one hop, one solo – because it takes the big player out of the game. It also ensures we can actually get more children on the field playing our games in some sort of a meaningful way.”

For more, read page 54 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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