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Are Sinn Fein now politically palatable as Coalition partners for Fianna Fail?



Date Published: 27-Feb-2013


Mission Impossible’: Part Three! The bookmakers and pundits still firmly believe that Kilkenny will capture their ninth All-Ireland hurling title in 13 years on Sunday, but a fearless young Galway side will have other ideas when the counties clash for the third time in the 2012 championship at Croke Park on Sunday (3.30pm).

Having hammered the champions in a shock Leinster Final in July, and survived after finding themselves behind in injury time of the drawn All-Ireland Final, Anthony Cunningham’s young team should feel they have nothing to lose despite the heightened expectations in the wake of the thrilling stalemate three weeks ago.

The composure shown by the Galway players to scrape out an equalising point in the tension-filled closing minutes should also provide supporters with plenty of hope when up to 40,000 followers of the men in maroon make the trip to GAA headquarters this weekend.

Both teams will have learned valuable lessons from the pulsating contest on September 9, but it was a most ‘un-Galwaylike’ performance from the men in maroon to hang on so doggedly when so much went against them in the second half of that thrilling contest.

Kilkenny are still chasing a phenomenal sixth title in seven years, and retain such an aura under Brian Cody’s management that they are still firm favourites with the bookies (4/9), despite being so long on the road. But the Tribesmen have gone toe-to-toe with them in two major championship tussles and remain the only unbeaten side in the country this year.

Yes, there was an alarming fade-out in the third quarter, just as there was in the semi-final victory over Cork and, indeed, the Leinster final. Henry Shefflin dragged the champions almost single-handedly back into the game, helping the Cats to outscore the Tribesmen by 0-10 to 0-2 between the 33rd and 55th minutes and 0-12 to 1-4 in the entire second half.

Nerves of steel

But Galway showed nerves of steel to hang on, with Niall Burke’s goal giving them a lifeline against the run of play, and Joe Canning looking the most composed man among the 82,000 throng when he calmly converted the 72nd minute free which brought the tie to a replay.

It was the kind of tight battle which Galway would have lost agonisingly during over two decades of fruitless campaigns in search of the Liam MacCarthy Cup, underlined by the tame exits to Dublin and Waterford which heralded the demise of the John McIntyre regime last year. Under Cunningham and company, the 2012 team have been men transformed.

It took both camps a few days to get their heads around the first drawn All-Ireland Final in 53 years, but by all accounts the Galway players have been ‘buzzing’ in training over the past fortnight as they are relishing another shot at the title. They know another big performance is within them on Sunday.

There is huge scope for improvement. Of the starting forwards, only Canning (1-9) and Niall Burke (1-2) made an impact on the scoreboard. Burke was sensational in the first half, before Kilkenny defenders Brian Hogan and Paul Murphy took control of the game in their half of the field.

The extra three weeks should be of huge benefit to Cyril Donnellan, who was in flying form before a broken arm ruled him out of the semi-final, while the promising David Burke will hope to deliver more to the Galway cause. Damien Hayes has taken on a new role, foraging back the field for possession so effectively this Summer, but both he had James Regan are well capable of taking important scores.

All year, the management have focused on the importance of setting up scores for the man in the best position. It will hardly matter who gets the scores on Sunday, as long as the Tribesmen finish with the greater haul, but the way in which the forwards lost their shape in the third quarter of the drawn game – playing too far from the Kilkenny goals – has been one of the issues they have tried to address in training.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Mervue United advance to the quarter-finals of U-17 FAI Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

On a weekend when the vast majority of the action fell by the wayside due to the inclement weather, Mervue United U-17 struck late to snatch a winner in Donegal as they qualified for the last eight of the FAI U-17 Cup following a success over Swilly Rovers.

Local League action saw just three games survive as OLBC notched a second half winner to defeat Hibernians to move into third position in the Premier League.

In the lower Divisions, table toppers Mervue United B and Moyne Villa continued on their merry ways with away wins over Bohemians and Naomh Briocain.

Swilly Rovers 0

Mervue United 1

In a game that was switched to a playable pitch in Fanad, Mervue United took a long time to assert their authority before striking late to give the home side no chance to respond.

The 89th minute winner was created by an Andrew Connolly flick on following a Ryan Manning thrown in and Schoolboy International Conor Melody made space for himself in the box before firing past Caolan Bolton.

It was no less than the visitors deserved against a young home side, but they had to work extremely hard for their victory.

While Anthoine O’Laoi missed a good first half opportunity, just a long range Manning free kick tested Bolton otherwise. Substitute John Migel Soler almost made an instant impact on the resumption, but was denied by a smart save.

Connolly, O’Laoi and Paul Healy all threatened a break though for the visitors, before a fine-tuned Melody eventually saved the day and secured the Mervue passage.

Mervue United: P Healy, Barry, Bailey, P Healy, Carroll, Melody, Assagbo, Manning, Cunningham (Soler), Connolly, O’Laoi.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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