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Are World Cup stars playing for their countries or contracts?



Date Published: {J}

The World Cup should be a celebration of all that is best in football, with the top players on the planet showing what they’re made of to compete for the ultimate prize.

And it is that in many ways – but equally, the two abiding memories of South Africa 2010 so far concern petulant superstars and the perpetual sound of buzzing bees.

The vuvuzelas are best put down to some obscure aspect of African culture – although a good solicitor would still manage to conjure up a class action for tinnitus that would put the army deafness bill in the ha’penny place.

The petulance, on the other hand, is not so easily explained; as in, what entitles players – who earn more in a week than two of the travelling fans do in a year –to slag off their right to criticise their performances?

And those performances are eminently slaggable alright – fellas on small fortunes who spend more time arguing with each other, the manager, the media and the fans than ensuring their team’s safe passage through the group stages.

Which begs the question – what is the main motivation for these closeted superstars?

Or in other words, are players more interested in putting themselves in the shop window to get a better contract or a moneybags transfer than playing as a team to win the ultimate prize?

And those who came into the World Cup with little hope of advancing past the group stages and with players who would be happy to eek out a living in the lower regions of the league – New Zealand, as a case in hand – have enjoyed results that have taken everyone by surprise.

Might that explain why some of the lesser lights have enjoyed the more impressive results to date while the big guns – Spain, for example, with an entire team of superstars up for sale to the highest bidder or England, where transfer talk is far more prominent than tactics – struggle to show a united front.

Are they playing for the benefit of the Man City Arabs, the Chelsea Russians or their nation – or in the case of the North Koreans, for the chance to make a run for it?

Every half-wit who has a shot on target is linked with a big money move to somewhere in Europe, and it’s hard for these money driven professionals not to have their heads turned by the notion of a multi-million euro signing on fee.

Club managers must be secretly praying their stars have a nightmare – where, for example, is the queue forming for the goalkeeping services of Robert Greene or the goalscoring talents of Emile Heskey?

The greatest strength that Ireland had under Jack Charlton was that the team was greater than the sum of its parts, and players who were struggling to make an impact at club level were playing like superstars because Big Jack had a system.

What England wouldn’t give at the minute for a similarly authoritarian manager because Capello, for all of his hardman reputation, insists on playing players out of position just to ensure that the country’s highest profile eleven players are on the starting team-sheet.

For more, read 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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