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Connacht must be getting fed up of hard luck stories



Date Published: {J}

ANOTHER stirring effort; another avoidable defeat. It’s becoming a recurring theme for Connacht this season. Apart from their friendly victory over a second-string Samoa outfit at the Sportsground, Eric Elwood’s squad have drawn a blank on the competitive front since mid-October. It’s a poor run of results by any standards, but particularly so now as the IRFU are finally starting to show an overdue interest in the men out West.

Once more, Connacht had the possession and the territory to have engineered a win over Harlequins in the Amlin Cup at The Stoop on Sunday evening, but again were founding wanting when it came to taking their chances. They are simply not clinical enough and though, once again, John Muldoon and company were heroic in terms of commitment, their ongoing failure to close the deal must be tormenting them by this stage.

Having already suffered a shock loss to Italian part-timers Cavalieri, Connacht needed the minimum of a bonus point from their trip to London to preserve their slim hopes of advancing to the knock-out stages of the competition, but their 20-9 defeat probably spells the end of the road barring an unlikely series of results. You could almost sense Elwood’s frustration in his post match interviews over yet another near miss.

The Connacht coach knows that his team have developed an admirable consistency in terms of performances and intensity, but wrong options, poor decision-making and the failure to execute the killer-pass are all conspiring against them in terms of achieving the progress that the men in green are aspiring to. Either the players are slow-learners or it’s just that they lack the inherent composure and calmness required when try-scoring opportunities present themselves.

Connacht had bravely carried the fight to Harlequins last Sunday evening, but were rocked when they conceded a try created out of nothing in the tenth minute. Their defence was caught napping by a quick Mick Browne throw into the line out and before the visitors knew it, Tom Guest had scampered past a couple of flimsy tackles to strike first blood for the English Premiership side. It was a sickening score to concede and with Nick Evans landing the conversion and an 18th minute penalty, Harlequins were already in the driving seat.

Two Miah Nikora penalties, the second on the stroke of half-time after a quick Frank Murphy ‘tap and go’ had unhinged the Harlequins cover only for Connacht to fail to take advantage of the numbers out wide, left them 13-6 down, but far from out of it. They were again forcing the pace early in the second-half when Murphy tried a similar tactic rather than his team taking a convertible kick at goal. It proved an expensive error; the move broke down and the resulting Harlequins turnover eventually saw Mike Browne going over for the match-clinching score. Instead of probably cutting the deficit to 13-9, Connacht were now 14 points adrift . . . and it was all their own fault.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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