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Connacht hoping to pick up where they left off



Date Published: {J}

CONNACHT return to action after a five week break when they bid to register a rare away win – and make it four victories from five competitive outings – against the Cardiff Blues at the new Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

This showdown with the team who are immediately above them at the foot of the table affords Connacht a chance to lift themselves off the basement and marks captain John Muldoon’s 100th game in the Magners League.

For their part, the Blues will hope to avenge their 18-16 defeat at the Sportsground in September. The Welsh club will have a host of internationals to call upon, but they may appear vulnerable as three of their leadings players, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, and Andy Powell are away on duty with the Barbarians this weekend.

Even without those three, there will be no less than seven members of the Welsh squad on show for Dai Young’s team, including Tom Shanklin, Gareth Cooper, Tom James, Bradley Davies, Martyn Williams, Sam Warburton, and Gethin Jenkins.

As if that line-up is not strong enough, centre Shanklin will face strong competition for a starting place from New Zealand star Casey Laulala, who arrived from Canterbury this week.

“We will be sending our very best team to Cardiff,” said Muldoon, who celebrated his birthday this week. “We know the Blues will be still reeling after their defeat at the Sportsground in September. But we firmly believe that on our day we can beat anyone.”

Connacht finished the last sequence of matches on a high thanks to a 16-10 win over the Scarlets on October 30. The manner of that win should give Michael Bradley’s men some encouragement for a tricky assignment on Sunday, even though the five week break may have disrupted Connacht’s momentum.

Their pack produced a commanding display against the Scarlets, with John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, and Mike McComish superb in the back row, while the half-back pairing of Frank Murphy and Ian Keatley were in peak form.

That victory, following a superb European Challenge Cup victory in Montpellier, helped to lift some of the gloom around the Sportsground after Bradley’s boys collapsed against Ulster on September 18, a night in which they were expected to build on the tense home win over the Blues.

No doubt Cardiff are still reeling from that particular defeat, in which former All-Black Ben Blair almost broke the home side’s hearts only to miss a late penalty which would have given the Blues an undeserved win.

Connacht have not won in six visits to Cardiff and their appalling 58-0 defeat there last season should ensure that the travelling party are fully focused on the job in hand.

Absent from the squad this weekend are Keith Matthews, Jamie Hagan, Andrew Browne, and Troy Nathan, but Bradley is likely to keep faith with the pack who bullied Scarlets into submission (and overcame two sin-binnings) five weeks ago.

Cardiff have only won one of their last four Magners League matches, a 20-12 home success against the Ospreys on October 24, and their last outing was a 31-3 reversal to Australia in a ‘friendly’ last week – although seven of their players were away on international duty for that encounter.

The Blues also learned this week that former Welsh international Rhys Williams has been forced to retire due to a serious knee injury.

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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