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Committed to making Mervue better next season

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Date Published: {J}

WHILE the managements and players of Galway United and Salthill Devon were both embroiled in their own respective relegation battles this week, Galway’s other League of Ireland club, and in particular its manager Thomas French, was thankful to have avoided such a daunting scenario.

Enjoying a cup of herbal tea in the Maldron Hotel across from Oranmore Business Park – where he co-owns French Vanoli Life Centre, a personal training and Pilates studio – the Mervue United boss was in reflective mood regarding the club’s second season in the First Division, where they finished second from bottom, just four points ahead of local rivals Salthill.

In many respects, it was a satisfactory ending to the season for the minnows, especially since, unlike other Premier and First Division clubs, it does not boast of a budget to buy in players nor does it currently host its home games at its own grounds. They play their home ties in Terryland Park. All in all, survival in top flight football was an achievement in itself.

That said, that will not be enough to sate French’s ambitions next season. Already he is planning ahead and after a year at the helm, he believes certain changes would have to be made before the commencement of the 2011 season.

“Obviously, going in this year, my hopes and expectations were a lot higher than where we ended up,” said French. “I know we were not far away in a lot of the games, but my expectations and targets next year will demand a lot more all round, from everybody.”

Indeed, French, who cited a lack of League of Ireland experience as one deficiency in his side, has identified a number of issues that need addressing over the winter period. One, he intended to reduce the size of the squad – amazingly, he used over 40 players throughout the course of the season – and, two, he wanted to instil a more professional approach in his players.

“When I went in (as manager) last February, one of the biggest problems with the lads was their mental attitude and professionalism. The high demand they put on themselves wasn’t there and, to me, they still had the mentality of a junior footballer, which we have tried to get out of them. So, it is a must next year to get rid of that junior mentality and to get them working professionally.

“Also, there were too many players to choose from last season and that was a problem because it affected our consistency. We introduced 41 players last year. That was a mistake. So, next season, I will be looking at having a set team and a panel of 20 or 22 and I will work with them from the start. Obviously, I now know what type of player I want next year. There is a certain type of player you need for the league, a certain mentality as well.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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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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