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Barking mad about his pack of greyhounds



Date Published: {J}

GLENAMADDY native Conor Fahy doesn’t know if he is the youngest greyhound racing trainer in Ireland, but at just 21 years of age, the Cox Cup winner can certainly be classed as a child of the sport.

Son of renowned Tyrur breeder, PJ Fahy – who has bred winners for both the Irish and Scottish derbies – it was always a strong possibility that at least one of PJ’s six children would pursue a career in the greyhound racing industry. Conor’s insatiable interest dictated that he would be the first.

So, just a little over two months ago, the 21-year-old applied and received his trainer’s licence from the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB). “They send out the stipendiary steward for the area and he inspects the kennels to make sure they are up to standard,” says Conor, as he sits in the family home. “So, he came up here at the start of April.”

In many respects, there was never going to be an issue with the facilities. The Fahy complex is the greyhound equivalent to a five-star hotel, with each litter of pups enjoying their own quarters and garden, while the racing dogs are housed in specialised kennels and exercised in both the adjacent paddock and on the state-of-the-art gallop.

Under the six kennel ‘hands’— including Conor – they are walked, groomed and fed, with the finest of meat often featuring on the daily menu. If horseracing is the sport of kings, then greyhound racing must be the choice of emperors. “We have a brilliant team of lads here,” says Fahy. “It is not all about dad or me. They are good lads and without them we wouldn’t have the success we are having.”

In any event, the IGB granted Fahy his licence on April 15, and on that very night, he had his first two official winners, in Tyrur Nama and Tyrur Audrey, in the first round of a stakes competition in Shelbourne. Since then, Ireland’s newest trainer has had approximately 70 winners at events in Galway, Shelbourne, in the Macroom Motors Stakes in Cork and, of course, in the prestigious Cox Cup in Newbridge.

That Cox Cup was a special one for the Fahy family, given his father PJ had bred the dog, Tyrur Bucko, Conor had trained him, and his older brother Daryl headed up the owning syndicate, Seven Pioneers.

Conor says it was a night to remember, but adds he was always quietly confident that Bucko could produce a winning performance.

“Bucko is a dog with early pace, so it is all about getting him out of the box. If he gets out in front, he has a huge chance. In the final, he was in trap three and there were two serious dogs, derby dogs, in traps two and four. In trap two was Definate Opinion and trap four was Westmeath Bolt. To win the race, he had to lead from the off, no question. He definitely was not going to come from behind.

“Now, the split record before the competition started was 2:54. In the second round, Bucko did it in 2:52. In the final, we felt he had to go close to that again to lead up. Then, he had a huge chance. He did 2:50; he broke his own split record. To do the time he did after that, 29:51, was just phenomenal. He won it by five lengths, leaving the other dogs in his wake.”

The excitement and pride is clearly visible as Fahy talks about keeping the dogs “happy and buzzing” the week in the lead-up to the race. Indeed, he maintains the week before is just as vital to securing a victory as it is to the dog making his break.

“Every dog is different,” states the trainer. “Bucko ran the semi-final on a Friday, and he got out on the gallops on Monday and Wednesday. He got two gallops that week. We had Tyrur Brennan in the final of the Hegarty Bookmakers Open 600 and we didn’t give him any gallops at all and he came second.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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