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Connacht fall again at bogey venue



Date Published: {J}

Ulster 27

Connacht 16

Rob Murphy


The report card on Connacht’s season will wait for another two weeks but this game told us a lot about where the province stands after year one of the Eric Elwood era. Ulster’s class and experience told in the final 10 minutes here, but a ferocious display from the visiting pack at Ravenhill will have given the Westerners hope.

Overall, the report card will probably show that Elwood’s men are progressing in areas where they had been stuck in neutral for years. That’s good, they have jumped one place on last year in the table and the average tries for and against have both improved considerably. A bucket load of hard earned bonus points and a competitive edge in every game all adds up to hope.

Yet this game also showed the negatives, the lack of depth in key positions, the significant loss that some of the leaving stars will be, especially Hagen at tighthead. In the backline, Connacht haven’t moved forward enough, and Troy Nathan’s selection at 12 continues to baffle most observers as while he’s as committed and honest as you could hope for, he struggles to impose himself in the role.

Yet overall there is a feeling that Connacht are ‘fronting-up’ and the confidence in the camp is higher than ever before. They were hammered on their last two visits to Belfast but on this occasion they were the better team for an hour. The missing link seems to be that bit more depth in the squad and that comes down to resources.

Ulster exploded out of the blocks and struck first with a great try from Rory Best. After a good drive from Jerry Cronin, Humphreys passed back inside to set Adam D’Arcy away. The full back drew the cover and supplied Cave who did likewise to allow Rory Best score under the posts. Humphreys added the extras.

The response from Connacht was hugely encouraging as they didn’t let such a simple blow set them back. They answered by winning the restart and setting up an attack that led to a well struck drop goal from Ian Keatley.

Thoughts from the home side that an easy afternoon was in store were dissipating although they were almost in for a second try only for Humphreys’ kick through to be charged down by Mike McCarthy. Fionn Carr almost broke clear when he collected the rebound only for Darren Cave to make a vital and probably try saving tackle as the Connacht winger had an open field to attack.

Dan McFarland will be especially pleased with counter-rucking of the Connacht pack throughout the first half and one such example resulted in a penalty which Keatley was unable to convert from long range.

The Connacht pack were well on top in the first half, the excellent Johnny O’Connor and man-of-the-match McCarthy led the way while the return of John Muldoon was having an impact. Their hard work created another half chance which ended with Nathan’s cross-kick to Eoin Griffin which was asking a little much of the winger.


Niva Ta’auso picked up an eye injury soon after and while he was down injured Ulster crafted a score out of nothing in a virtual length-of-the-field move. The 42 time South African capped Ruan Pienaar took a quick tap from a penalty in Ulster’s 22 and his break led to Humphreys skinning Cronin just over half way with the pass releasing D’Arcy to run in with Humphreys converting.

For more, read 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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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