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Cawley on cloud nine!



Date Published: {J}

By John McIntyre

THEY had learned from the last day; they would not be making the same mistake twice . . . and the change in tactics helped propel young Galway jockey Alain Cawley and Wexford based trainer Paul Nolan to a thrilling victory in Ireland’s most prestigious, if not richest steeplechase, at Leopardstown last Sunday.

Scarcely six weeks earlier, Cawley and Nolan knew deep down they had left the Lexus Chase behind them at the same track’s Christmas meeting when putting the gun to Joncol’s head too far from home after getting involved in a sustained battle up front with Notre Pere.

The giant and progressive Joncol was still in the lead jumping the last, but he started to empty in the final 200 yards and was unable to withstand the late surges of cross-channel raiders, What A Friend and Money Trix. Connections knew it was an opportunity missed.

Cawley was exonerated by his trainer over committing too soon on Joncol – Nolan took full responsibility in publicly stating that the 22-year-old Craughwell native was only following instructions. It hardly lessened the torment of last year’s champion conditional, but Sunday was to prove redemption day.

This time Cawley held his nerve and his patience in the Hennessy Gold Cup as Ruby Walsh and Cooldine, brilliant winner of the 2009 Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham, set a modest gallop. Joncol was always prominent but the 9/4 favourite was never asked to take it up.

Ensuring his mount was preserving sufficient energy on the heavy ground, Cawley and Joncol became temporarily unbalanced after the third last, but they were quickly back on an even keel and coming to the penultimate fence, they had only Cooldine, and surprise packet, the Dessie Hughes trained Schindlers Hunt, to beat.

Joncol still had ground to make up at the last and when the seven-year-old jumped markedly to the right, it briefly appeared that his chance was gone, but Cawley galvanised his willing partner for one major thrust and veering alongside Cooldine, they went head to head over the final 100 yards.

Initially, Walsh and Cooldine were just about holding them at bay, but Joncol had been primed for battle and with Cawley excelling in the saddle, they wore down the long-time leader in the shadow of the post for a hugely popular neck victory.

Minutes later, the triumphant rider and horse returned to a great reception in the Leopardstown unsaddling enclosure. Cries of ‘come on Craughwell’ filled the air as Cawley savoured by far the biggest win of his career so far – his third Grade One victory of the current campaign.

The young jockey was naturally thrilled with Joncol’s landmark success and, in the process, getting the better of Walsh in such a titanic finish. “He is a tough man to get past, but I couldn’t have done it without the horse. He really stayed all the way to the line.”

Cawley admitted that they had got the tactics wrong in the Lexus Chase and was determined not to make too much use of Joncol on his return visit to Leopardstown. “I had to be patient and not produce him too soon and, thank God, we got it right this time. The horse showed plenty of guts and saw out the trip well.”

For more, read page 49 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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.

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