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Connacht’s Euro day of judgement arrives

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Date Published: {J}

Judgement day has arrived. Connacht face into a season-defining clash against Montpellier this Friday (7pm) in a ‘winner takes all’ battle that will ultimately decide which of the two teams will qualify for the knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup.

Although there is another round of games in Pool 2 still to go, Connacht and Montpellier are widely expected to defeat Madrid and Worcester Warriors in the last round respectively – and given they are rooted to the foot of the Magners League table – the success, or otherwise, of the westerner’s season hinges on this weekend’s crunch tie with the French.

Preparations for the all-important clash have been far from ideal for Coach Michael Bradley and his squad as the province aims to qualify for the quarter-finals of this competition for the seventh time.

Connacht haven’t played since being trounced by Munster at Thomond Park on St Stephen’s Day after both home games against Leinster and the Dragons were cancelled due to the ‘big freeze’ – although the squad utilised the all-weather pitch, Connacht only trained on the main pitch for the first time in weeks on Tuesday.

Added to that is a jaw injury that has ruled out in-form full-back Gavin Duffy although, on a positive note, prop forward Brett Wilkinson has been passed fit to play.

Hooker Seán Cronin’s decision earlier this week to sign a one-year extension to his contract also came as a boost to team morale – it was widely anticipated that the 23-years old Limerickman would return to play for his native Munster.

Cronin, who made his full international debut against Fiji in autumn, opted to stay with Connacht for another year due to him receiving regular starts with the province which has kept him in the spotlight for the Ireland selectors.

The number two will be a key player in ensuring Connacht remain unbeaten in the Cup this weekend and while they have a good track record against Montpellier – and defeated them 22-19 in France in round two of the competition – the French side has improved considerably since then.

Montpellier face into this game high on confidence on the back of a 15-0 win over French Super 14 league leaders Castres last weekend, which, amazingly, is the first time any team in France’s premier competition so far this season has been hel scoreless this season.

A mean defence awaits Connacht on Friday but Montpellier can be creative in attack, too, and won six of the nine matches they have played since losing to Connacht in October. It’s always difficult to know how any French side will travel; the fact that Montpellier are more than likely out of contention for a play-off spot in the domestic league means they could well, like the home side, be targeting the European Cup as a way of salvaging their season.

For more, read page 44 of 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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Archive News

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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