Date Published: 18-Dec-2009
THE first time Connacht secured back-to-back victories against English opposition was way back in 1997 when the minnows from the west famously overcame the might of Northampton on the double and went on to top their pool and secure a European Challenge Cup quarter final berth.
Although they have claimed notable English scalps on home soil since, last Saturday’s accomplished 26-21 victory over Worcester at Sixways was the province’s first on English territory in 12 years.
And this Friday night (7pm), the current Connacht squad have a chance of emulating that double achieved against Northampton all those years ago under the stewardship of Warren Gatland, when they face the Warriors in a crucial return leg – a home win against
Guinness premiership outfit will almost certainly put paid to Worcester’s chances of advancing to the next stage while it will keep clear daylight between Connacht and Montpellier in pool 2.
Portumna’s John Muldoon remembers Tuesday September 9, 1997 vividly, as he was among the crowd at the Sportsground who witnessed Connacht shock the club rugby ‘order’ of the Northern hemisphere by toppling Northampton 43-13.
Muldoon was only 15 and had to mitch school in Portumna with a couple of friends and get a bus into Galway to make the historic occasion (the tie was unusually rescheduled from the Saturday and held at 3pm on the Tuesday because of the funeral of Diana, princess of Wales).
The victory had a lasting impact, awakened his interest in rugby and spurred him on to pursue a career in the sport. Now, aged 27, Connacht Captain Muldoon is looking forward to leading his side out onto the pitch at the Sportsground, where he hopes to steer his men to another notable success, and ever closer to that coveted quarter-final place.
With three wins out of three, including two massive away victories against Worcester and Montpellier, under their belts, that quarter-final place is within touching distance – surely only a Connacht slip-up can unravel their European Cup hopes now?
“That’s 100% right; our destiny is in our own hands. Unless we make errors and become complacent, our destiny is in our hands and the carrot of a quarter-final is there at the end of the road. It would be a huge thing for Connacht Rugby and supporters to have a big day out in April to look forward to with a good French side or a premiership side coming to the Sportsground for a quarterfinal.
We know what we have to do,” says Muldoon, who earned his first senior international cap against Canada in May.
Of course beating Worcester won’t nail down that quarter final place, but with a home match against Montpellier and an away tie against Madrid to look forward to, it will put Connacht odds on favourites to qualify top of their group, with an 80% chance of securing a home quarter-final.
And on last Saturday’s evidence, Connacht are more than capable of beating what looks likely to be a second-string, experimental Worcester outfit – Warrior’s Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock has one eye on a crucial Guinness premiership tie against Northampton next weekend, and said he will rotate his squad for this return leg in Galway.
But far from being pushovers, Muldoon feels a Worcester side with the shackles off, probably poses more of an attacking threat. “In a way, we won’t change our approach to the match at all. Worcester say they are going to rotate the squad and so they will change their game plan.
“They kick an awful lot of ball high into the air, which isn’t the most attractive style but it’s effective. But on Friday night I think they won’t kick as much and will probably run at us and they’ll be more threatening. They have strength in depth, and they will probably play a few young lads and we won’t know their names but they won’t be afraid to run with the ball, and they will be threatening. We won’t be taking them lightly.”
For more preview of the match see page 52 of the City Tribune or page 56 of the Connacht Tribune
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup
Date Published: 06-Mar-2013
New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit
A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes
Date Published: 11-Mar-2013
Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?
Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.
But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.
While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.
So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.
It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.
Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.
While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.
It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.
But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.