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Another blank day for Connacht in forgettable tie

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Jan-2013

 IT is justifiable to fear for the future of the RaboDirect Pro12 in its current guise on nights like this. A sold-out RDS and a live television audience were made sit through a turgid affair between a second string Leinster and a near full strength Connacht side that just couldn’t score against them.

The result was the same as it alway is and you have to wonder if that worries anyone?

Leinster will front up for six games each season in this competition and that’s usually enough to get to the play offs. Connacht cause the odd big upset at home, pick up a few points off sides in the lower half the table as well, and that’s usually enough to get the pats on the back.

Everything just stays the same in the Pro12, season after season, nothing changes. The Heineken Cup has illuminated the problem for us in the west as it has given us a taste of real rugby. Intense, edge of your seat, front up or get hammered, rugby. That’s virtually non-existent in the Rabo and in the Challenge Cup, at least until the semi final stages of that competition.

Rugby as a sport just isn’t interesting at a reduced tempo with nothing at stake and teams like Connacht really do offer little or nothing once bodies aren’t on the line and a ‘win or bust’ mentality isn’t prevalent.

There was no sense of entitlement in Connacht’s play on Saturday, no evidence that they had looked at a Leinster team sheet made up largely of their A squad from the British and Irish Cup and said ‘we’re better than these guys, by some distance’.

They respected their opponents – the blue jersey and the venue – played it like any other Leinster game and the result was the same as it ever was. Line breaks were made but nothing came from them due to poor support play, poor ball protection in the tackle and handling errors, so many handling errors. Nine in the first 30 minutes.

It was cold and windy at the RDS, and the rugby was somewhat exciting early on but by half time with Leinster leading 7-0 thanks to a try from their only attack playing into a strong wind, the game was clearly a dour affair and inevitably heading towards a home win.

The RaboDirect Pro12 is competition in dire need of a overhaul. The big teams can put out a second string team for 60% of games, the weaker teams from Italy and Scotland can focus on the Heineken Cup and ignore it while Connacht need to make it a priority, but have little or no hope of achieving anything in it.

Connacht’s one and only objective in this competition is to try and finish ahead of another Irish province and qualify automatically for the following season’s Heineken Cup. It’s ten years and 30 games since they won away at another Irish province, so as long as that continues, they are not going to come anywhere close to that goal.

This season, they’ve been alarmingly ‘nilled’ on four occasions; twice on their travels, within the island at Ulster and now here but that’s made all the worse by the fact that Leinster rested 13 front line players for this encounter. The key question afterwards was whether or not this was a low point in the season? We asked Eric Elwood.

“People have got to understand. It’s extremely difficult here, we don’t have a good record away to Leinster. It’s disappointing that after 30 minutes that we have nothing on the board having dominated. Then they go up the field, ricocheted off a few tackles and got in for a try off a quick tap penalty.”

So there you have it, this wasn’t a shambles or a total disaster, it was one that got away after a promising start. Connacht believed they could win on Saturday if the chances were turned it to points and the defence held firm. They came close. It didn’t happen, let’s learn from it and move on.

For the full match report see this week’s Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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