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Big match battles for Galway teams

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 17-Jul-2009

UNLIKE Christiano Ronaldo or Michael Owen, top class hurlers and footballers do not move around from one team to another in search of greater financial rewards. They play with passion for the counties that spawned them and Galway GAA fans are spoilt for choice as a massive weekend looms on the horizon for the county’s two flagship teams.

The ‘galacticos’ of Real Madrid might have brought their entourage to Ireland this week, but sports fans in Galway are more concerned with the fortunes of the home-grown heroes who face two crunch battles which could define their respective seasons in the space of less than 24 hours.

The hurlers, fresh from their ten point mauling of Clare in Ennis, face a tough trip to Thurles to take on Cork in a ‘do or die’ championship clash at Semple Stadium on Saturday (7pm), before the footballers take centre stage for a mouthwatering Connacht final against fierce rivals Mayo at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (4 p.m.).

Defeat won’t be fatal for the footballers, who could still take the qualifier route, but pride is always a huge factor in the West of Ireland’s biggest sporting derby and the Tribesmen are on the brink of the unthinkable – three championship victories in a row over former boss John O’Mahony – in what should be a memorable occasion on home soil.

It is the final pairing which everyone expected since the draw for the provincial championships late last year, but Galway almost did not make it through when they were given a massive scare by Sligo in last month’s semi-final. An injury time Sean Armstrong goal saw them escape with a flattering four point win.

So poor were the Tribesmen in Sligo that most followers of the maroon and white, wary of Mayo’s impressive hammering of Roscommon, could hardly have envisaged another victory over Mayo this weekend. The pressure is on John O’Mahony’s men, too, as they were humbled in Salthill two years ago – the day when Cormac Bane scored two early goals – before Galway added to their agony against the odds in Castlebar 12 months ago.

Midfield remains a worrying area for the men in maroon, while the jaw injury sustained by Mayo’s Ronan McGarrity adds to the intrigue surrounding this sector going into Sunday’s final. Some rejigging of the Tribesmen’s line-up is inevitable in this area, due to Gary O’Donnell’s red card in the provincial semi-final.

Nicky Joyce has also made a welcome return to the panel since the Sligo scare and, while Galway did not play well that day, many in the camp believe that the Division Four champions did not get the credit they deserved for the intensity of their challenge.

There is no doubt that Mike Meehan, Armstrong, and Padraic and Nicky Joyce have the fire-power to do damage, but the big question relates to whether or not the home side will do enough work around the middle of the park to get good quality supplies into the danger zone.

Demand for tickets has been brisk in both counties and a crowd not far off the capacity of just under 31,000 is expected at the Salthill venue for a game which is being televised ‘live’ on TV3 (coverage starts at 3.30 p.m.).

The intensity of the rivalry between the two giants of Connacht football is reflected in a record of 38-36 in favour of the Tribesmen from a total of 74 Championship meetings stretching back to their first provincial final showdown back in 1901.

The history books won’t bother either set of players on Sunday, but their familiarity with each other should ensure a tough, tight contest and a cracking atmosphere; while it is hard to imagine O’Mahony losing against his former charges for a third consecutive year.

Hurling supporters will take to the road for the second time in a week on Saturday, when Galway will bid to banish the memories of their second half collapse against Cork in last year’s All-Ireland qualifiers at Semple Stadium.

It’s the same venue 12 months on, but so much has changed since the game which heralded the dismissal of Ger Loughnane as Galway manager. John McIntyre is at the helm now, while Denis Walsh has replaced Ger McCarthy as Cork boss after a long winter of discontent which included a players’ strike on Leeside.

While the memories of that 0-23 to 2-15 defeat are still raw – Joe Canning scored all but three points of Galway’s total in a sensational individual display – there was enough steel and determination in last weekend’s win over Clare, and the spirited resistance against All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final, to ensure followers from the West will travel with renewed hope this weekend.

Unfortunately, wing back Adrian Cullinane has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing cruciate knee ligaments against Clare, but at least inspirational captain Ollie Canning and hugely improved centre forward Cyril Donnellan have recovered from the knocks they sustained at Cusack Park.

Cork are a more experienced, battle-hardened team; but the performances of Shane Kavanagh, John Lee, and Donnellan in the central positions provided a huge boost to the Tribesmen last Saturday, while they did not show an overreliance on young Canning for scores.

Cork hammered Offaly by 3-19 to 1-12 in their first round qualifier, after giving Munster champions Tipperary a tough test first time out, and they will expect newcomer Aisake O hAilpin to cause havoc after his 2-1 haul last time out.

The Rebels have an injury concern relating to Ben O’Connor (hamstring), one of the stars of their rousing second half display against the Tribesmen last year with a 12 point haul. O’Connor and Joe Deane produced sensational performances for the 14 men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack just before half-time.

Supporters of the maroon and white will anticipate a far livelier performance from their home-grown heroes this weekend, the commitment and heart they showed against Clare ensuring Galwegians travel with high hopes.

Big games are coming thick and fast for the hurlers this season, with just a six day ‘turnaround’ from the Clare game, and nobody in Galway will dare to look beyond Cork given the recent championship history between the two counties. The game is ‘live’ on RTE2.

For detailed previews of each match see Sport in this week’s City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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.

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