Date Published: 28-Nov-2012
THE stakes were high at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. Not alone was Ireland trying to end a five match international test losing run, they were also desperately striving to hold onto their second tier seeding in the world rankings, while under-pressure coach Declan Kidney’s job was probably on the line after a forgettable 2012.
The low point was reached when Ireland were embarrassingly taken apart by New Zealand (60-nil) in Hamilton during the summer and with Kidney’s conservation in team selection and tactical approach coming under scrutiny, the pressure was mounting on the Cork man.
A narrow defeat to South Africa earlier in the month when they failed to score in the second-half only provided more ammunition for the critics.
Though Kidney may come across as an uninspiring individual in his dealings with the media, his coaching record at provincial and international level (until recently) suggests there is much more to him than meets the eye. Leading Munster to the Heineken Cup and Ireland to only the country’s second ever Grand Slam are impressive achievements and can never be taken away from him.
But with the national team enduring its worst run for several seasons, it would only be so long that those feats were going to insulate Kidney from getting the bullet. Granted the absence of a number of injured front-liners like Sean O’Brien, Stephen Ferris, Rob Kearney, Paul O’Connell (we are starting to wonder if his playing days are numbered) and Brian O’Driscoll left considerable scope for the changing of the guard, the Irish coach wasn’t slow to embrace change.
Ahead of the critical test against Argentina, the Irish camp had been given a lift when a largely youthful side admittedly put a disinterested Fiji to the sword at Thomond Park the previous weekend. Craig Gilroy had scored a hat-trick of tries in that match and it was no surprise when the Ulster flyer was retained in the centre for the meeting with the Pumas, who were facing into their 12th test in six months.
Connacht’s Mike McCarthy was retained in the second row after a Trojan effort against South Africa, but there were still a lot of questions hanging over Ireland before the in-form Jonathan Sexton kicked off last Saturday. Previous matches against Argentina have tended to be close, uncompromising battles and the expectation was that we would see another attritional and ugly affair in the Aviva Stadium. It turned out to be anything but.
It was as if the Irish were let off the lease and given a licence to thrill. With Sexton master-minding their attacking and enterprising back play, Argentina simply couldn’t cope with the home team’s superb angles of running, pace and enterprise. The transformation was stunning as Ireland crossed for a seven-try haul having only managed a measly two in their five previous internationals. The impressive Gilroy danced over for the first, while Tommy Bowe and Sexton grabbed two each. Another of the young tyros, Simon Zebo, and hooker Richardt Strauss completed the rout.
Even allowing for Argentina looking battle weary and being guilty of some flimsy tackling, this was a sparkling effort by the reinvigorated Irish ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign. Some of the attacking play was sensational and, suddenly, the men in green look to be back in business and enjoying what they are doing. Sexton continues to grow in authority and confidence at number 10, while Donnacha Ryan is making up for a belated start to his international career with another mighty effort in the pack.
For more, read this week’s 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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.