Date Published: 22-Nov-2012
IT takes a special team to go into the club’s first ever county senior hurling championship final and claim a victory at the first time of asking.
That said, St. Thomas’ manager John Burke and his six sons were never going to buy into the old adage that you had to lose one to win one, with John suggesting that had anyone came along to Castledaly espousing such a theory beforehand they would have been quickly shown the door.
“We didn’t mention that at all. I said to Jimmy Kelly and Justin Flannery (selectors), ‘I don’t want to hear anyone coming and saying that you have to lose one to win one’. That was out the window. If you get to a final, you have to win it. That’s it.”
With a broad, beaming smile on his face, Burke looks like he has bore witness to his wife Paula giving birth to his seven children all over again. The pride beats in his chest, for his family and his six sons who saw action on Sunday; for the panel of players who are akin to his own flesh and blood; and for the club which he played with into his early forties.
Sure, Burke may have envisaged this moment as far back as 2002 when they claimed the U-12 title but he was also aware that there were no guarantees in Galway hurling. A lot of things had to go right. “We are probably lucky that the younger lads are in school or college and the older lads are all working around.
“Now, we did lose Justin Kelly (corner back) last year – he is gone to Australia – but we are lucky enough that way, that not too many lads have gone away. It is awful important that they are all around. Of course, next year it all could change. You don’t know. For economic reasons, lads might have to go and get work. That’s it. That’s life.”
It was this fear of the unknown that Burke impressed on his players at the start of the year, citing the defeat to great rivals Gort in the 2011 semi-final as proof of the fragility of life in the senior championship.
“We learned an awful lot from that. I mean, a couple of weeks later, the boys went back training or back to the gym. They all had different things to do and we kind of focused on that. We knew lads had to do different things in order to improve their game.
“They are nearly professionals now. They may be club hurlers but they put in an awful amount of time. The dedication they give. Their life has been put on hold. They have no social life. Yes, they will have it tonight, but they had no social life up to this and that is part of it. But they love what they do. Hurling is their life. They just love doing what they are at, which is great.”
To have all that manifest in a county final winning performance though is a different matter but Burke notes that once full forward Richard Murray netted his first of three goals in the opening 90 seconds, he felt they would not be far away.
“The players really tuned in after that. We talked about getting the good start. We knew if Loughrea got on top of us, if they got ahead, they would control the game. They are a brilliant team. However, we believed if we got ahead, it would push them to come out [from their defence] and that was important.”
By half-time, St. Thomas’ held a 2-6 to 1-4 lead but Burke was acutely aware the job was far from finished. “We were hurling fairly well and after the restart we really focused on getting a good start again. And we did, scoring the third goal. We got a couple of more goal chances but we didn’t put them away. We knew Loughrea would never give up, like any team in any county final. They are not going to give up; they are going to keep battling. And they did.”
Again, he says the good start was, ultimately, the difference, a sentiment his eldest son Kenneth also expresses. “Coming into the final, we said we had to get a good start and put a few scores on the board and get the confidence going.
For more, read this week’s Galway City 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.