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Close shave for Leitir Mor

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

NAOMH Eanna Leitir Mór almost came unstuck at Pearse Stadium on Sunday and just about survived a late Cloone rally to hang on for a one-point victory in the semifinal of the Connacht intermediate club football championship.

An Spidéal advanced easily against Leitrim opposition Aughavas in the earlier match but any notions that their South Leitrim neighbours, Cloone, would similarly be pushovers were banished immediately as the visitors tore into Leitir Mór from the off and raced into a four points to no-score lead after 10 minutes.

No, this was a different kettle of fish to the junior match and if Cloone had shown a bit more composure in front of goal, and if another minute was added on at the end, they would surely have at least earned a draw.

As it was, Leitir Mór mustered up their trademark never-say-die’ attitude when the game was in the melting pot and they just about survived and scraped into the final with a fairly ordinary performance.

In fairness to the Gaeltacht men, they were well on top in the second-half and totally dominated possession but a sterling defensive effort from Cloone meant Leitir Mór’s dominance wasn’t translated on the scoreboard.

Leitir Mór just couldn’t seem to put Cloone away and were hanging onto a perilous three-point lead when the Leitrim men woke up again nearing full-time. Full-forward Damien O’Donnell kick-started the revival and cut Leitir Mór’s advantage to just two points, raising a white flag with just one-minute of normal time remaining, Cloone’s first score since the 24th minute of the first half.

O’Donnell bottled it though in injury time and sent a relatively easy free well wide before Micheal Lohan narrowed the gap to just one point. That miss was to prove decisive.

The Galway champions were on the rack at this point, looked in disarray and the relief in the crowd was palpable when the final whistle was blown from the resulting kick-out – manager Ciarán Ó Fátharta knows had another play been allowed to develop, Cloone had the momentum and you wouldn’t have bet against them equalising.

The two minutes time added- on had expired however and Leitir Mór survived and probably deserved to, but they will be wondering this week how they kept Cloone scoreless for more than 35 minutes and yet were lucky not to be caught in the end.

Leitir Mór struggled to cope early on and only settled on 15 minutes when Daithi Mac Donnchadha landed their first score of the day with a close range free. The Connemara men were level minutes later when an absolutely visionary pass from Mac Donnchadha split open the Cloone defence and played Cormac Ó Conghaile into space. The wing forward thought about fisting a point before his killer instinct got the better of him and he drilled into the Cloone net.

Mac Donnchadha then gave Leitir Mór the lead for the first time but Cloone were back in front 1-2 to 1-5 minutes later when Donal Brennan pointed just before Adrian Nicholls raised a green flag, with a fisted effort after an initial save by keeper Eoghan Ó Conghaile, although there was a suspicion of a square ball in the follow-up.

The goal stood and Cloone were sitting pretty heading to the dressing room but Mac Donnchadha narrowed their lead to just one point with two more late frees before the break. Two Ferdia Breathnach points in quick succession immediately after the restart

put the Galway men back in front and Mac Donnchadha then stretched that lead further with another free and it was looking like Leitir Mór might coast home.

But the side captained by Fiachra Breathnach just couldn’t seem to drive home their advantage and only scored one more point, an effort from substitute Patrick Mark Ó Fátharta 13 minutes into the half which turned out to be the eventual winner.

It proved just enough to carry the day but Leitir Mór have plenty of room for improvement, particularly in the scoring department, if they are to make any impact in the final.

They were well served by Eoghan Ó Conghaile, Seosamh Seoighe, Ciaran Bairéad, Cristóir Ó Flatharta, Fiachra Breathnach, Cormac Ó Conghaile, and Daithi Mac Donnchadha.


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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