Date Published: 22-Jan-2010
CONNAChT Rugby has the opportunity to claim the ultimate prize of a reasonable home draw against another Challenge Cup pool winner – instead of a Heineken Cup group runner-up – should they secure a bonus point victory against Olympus Rugby XV Madrid at Ciuadad Universitaria tomorrow (kick-off 4pm).
Indeed, a win may be just enough, depending on the outcome of last night’s match between London Wasps and Racing Metro 92. If Wasps, who have one more group point than Connacht, collected a bonus point victory, then the Westerners efforts will count for nothing in terms of taking top seeding, but nevertheless they will want to finish the pool stages unbeaten and secure as high a seeding as possible.
If Connacht, who have already qualified for the quarter- finals, were to lose in Spain – and that is highly unlikely – then they could be leapfrogged in the Challenge Cup order of merit by Leeds Carnegie or Bourgoin, Toulon or Saracens, or Newcastle Falcons.
While Connacht would still retain a home draw, they would have to face one of the runners-up from the Heineken Cup group stages. This could be any team from Irish rivals Ulster to Gloucester Rugby, both former Heineken Cup winners.
Fortunately, though, that part of Connacht’s destiny lies firmly in their own hands, and one would expect the pool 2 winners to register a significant win over Amlin Challenge Cup newcomers Olympus Rugby.
For one, Connacht is one of just two teams (Wasps being the other) out of the 44 in the Amlin and Heineken Cups that have gone unbeaten so far in their competition ahead of this weekend’s final series of games, a record, one suspects, they will wish to maintain.
This includes a substantial 46-6 home victory over Olympus Rugby, and home and away doubles over both Worcester and Montpellier. Of course, if London Wasps suffered a defeat last night, then Connacht would be the only unbeaten team in European championship rugby this season. That would be quite an achievement.
In many respects, Connacht’s impressive run should not come as a surprise. Certainly, this is a competition that the West of Ireland province has had a great affinity with, reaching the semifinals on two occasions (2004 & ‘05) and the quarter-finals four times (2003, ‘06, ’09 and now ‘10) in the last decade alone. In all, Connacht has reached the knockout stages of this competition seven times.
No doubt, that is an amazing statistic in itself, as is the fact that they are the only team to compete for all 14 seasons in this competition. In all, that amounts to 89 games, with the Madrid clash tomorrow rounding off that total to 90.
As for newcomers Olympus Rugby, they have not recorded a single point – bonus or otherwise – in the group stages, and, indeed, have only scored four tries compared to Connacht’s 18 in their five matches to date.
Madrid have also suffered some sound beatings at home, no more so than that a 5-38 defeat to Worcester and a 6-42 loss to Montpellier. Their heaviest group defeat, though, was away to Worcester last weekend, when they lost 54-3.
This is hardly the form any side would want to take into any game, but, then again, the Spanish invitational side have had little to play for since early in this competition. Drubbing has followed drubbing, although there was one chink of light for them in their group campaign when they racked up a healthy score in their 57-24 defeat away to Montpellier.
Not to be too impertinent, this will hardly leave Connacht shaking in their boots, although Bradley and his coaching staff did not appear to be taking this game for granted as they delayed even their squad selection until late on Thursday evening
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.