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Brave Leitir Mor lack quality of rivals

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Date Published: 28-Jan-2010

IF places in the All-Ireland intermediate final were awarded for bravery and heart then Naomh Eanna Leitir Mór would this week be looking forward to a date with destiny in Croke Park on St Valentine’s Day. The Gaeltacht men really are warriors; it’s just an awful pity they left it so late to draw blood.

Having been outplayed for large tracts of the first half – despite having the lion’s share of possession – Leitir Mór left it until the All-Ireland semifinal was almost unwinnable before they mustered up a rousing comeback … and nearly caused the mother of all upsets against a classy Cookstown side.

There was serious doubt about whether the match would go-ahead at all – the fog in Longford was so thick at 2pm you could barely see your hand stretched out in front of you, never mind the pitch or the stand on the far side of the press box which was home to close on 1,000 Leitir Mór supporters.

By throw-in a half hour later visibility had improved although the stand opposite was still a blur – we couldn’t see them but we knew the Gaeltacht followers were there from the boisterous reception they gave to the men in black and amber as they took to the field and the rousing rendition of ‘Peigín Leitir Móir’ at halftime.

It could have been Pearse Stadium, not Pearse Park, such was the level of support for the Connacht Champions and the ‘sixteenth man’ undoubtedly played its part in Leitir Mór’s revival.

With just 11 minutes remaining in this highly entertaining clash, the Tyrone and Ulster champions were cruising and had a nine points, 1-11 to 0-5, advantage with the finish line in sight. But Ciarán Ó Fátharta’s charges refused to lie down.

Hardworking full-forward Ferdia Breathnach started the comeback with a free before centre back Ciarán Baireád showed raw determination to finish off a move he started in his own half, which involved captain Fiachra Breathnach, to raise a green flag with a powerful shot to left-hand corner of Martin Rea’s net. A lifeline.

Patrick Mark Ó Fátharta then held his nerve to land three frees in as many minutes and suddenly it was game on, with Leitir Mór having pared back the Cookstown lead from nine points to two and the pendulum had swung in the Galwaymen’s favour.

Alas, the ‘great escape’ wasn’t to be. A combination of a poor decision by the linesman, a mistake in defence and a touch of class by substitute John Gilmore, who landed a well executed goal two minutes from time, sealed victory for Cookstown.

You could argue the sideline ball that led to the goal should have gone Leitir Mór’s way but you cannot dispute that Cookstown deserved their victory. The midlands fog may have been as thick as chowder but the gulf in quality of these two sides was clear as a summer’s day – Cookstown were a cut above Leitir Mór in every department. Simple as.

It took just 20 seconds to give a glimpse of how potent their attack is. Conor Mullan won the throw-in, laid it off to Raymond Mulgrew who launched an inch-perfect pass into the corner to Christopher Eastwood who landed the first point of the match before some people realised it had even started.

Two points from play from Ferdia Breathnach and Daithí MacDonnchadha gave the Connemara men a lead momentarily but three-time All-Ireland winner and All-Star Owen Mulligan then just cut loose.

Manager Chris Lawn’s tactic of isolating Mulligan and Eastwood in the full-forward line, bringing corner-forward Martin Murray back as a sweeper, reaped rewards for Cookstown as the duo proved near impossible to contain.

Cookstown defended in numbers and then launched counter-attacks in waves, moving the ball at lightning speed into their two danger men.

Mulgrew, Mullan and Barry Mulligan were spearheading much of the attacks and supplied the quality ball to the inside forwards but they were capable of scoring with ease themselves. Owen Mulligan effortlessly raised three white flags in five minutes midway through the first half to regain a lead his side never relinquished.

Patrick Mark Ó Fátharta and Ferdia Breathnach scored two frees but Leitir Mór, despite working hard and having ample possession, couldn’t break down the Cookstown defence and found if extremely difficult to get within shooting range. In contrast scoring seemed effortless for Cookstown with points from Barry Mulligan, Eastwood and Mullan stretching the northerners’ lead to double-scores 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval.

It looked like it was curtains for Leitir Mór when Eastwood set-up Barry Mulligan for a cracking goal ten minutes into the second half, which was followed quickly by two masterful points from Owen Mulligan and Mullan but the Gaeltacht warriors never gave up, although their comeback came too late.

There’s certainly no shame in defeat as this is a serious Cookstown outfit. Owen Mulligan was the star performer but his partner in crime Christopher Eastwood was lethal, too, although you’d have liked to have seen them marked a bit tighter.

The trio hovering between midfield and the ‘40, Conor Mullan, Raymond Mulgrew and Brian Mulligan, were excellent throughout as was ‘corner forward’ Martin Murray, who shored-up their defence. Corner back Philip Kelly and wing back Shea McGarrity also stood out.

Eoin Ó Conghaile proved once again why he is one of the best goalkeepers in Galway when he pulled-off two incredible saves either side of the break that kept his team in with a shout.

Captain Fiachra Breathnach led by example, covered acres of space and put in Trojan amount of work – he was one of a few from Leitir Mór who caused Cookstown problems.

Patrick Mark Ó Fátharta was impeccable in his free-taking and Ferdia Breathnach was the only other real threat up front. Ciarán Baireád’s burst of aggression that culminated in a class goal was a joy but we needed to see more of it.

Michéal P. Ó Ceallaigh had a good day marking Brian Mulligan and Coilín Ó Hogáin also tried hard on a day when Leitir Mór looked a bit flat and lacking match practice.

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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