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Connacht’s High Kings focus on the big one

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 03-Dec-2009

LAST Sunday was undoubtedly one of the glory days for Corofin as they put back-to-back Connacht titles in the bag but manager Gerry Keane remembers tougher occasions too during the summer when the horizon wasn’t always as clear.

Back in June, Corofin were well beaten by Micheál Breathnach in the preliminary ‘second chance round’ of the championship, and they also had to endure a fair scare in the first round proper against Carraroe when extra-time was needed to see them through.

After that though, Corofin were always the team to beat in Galway, but even in the drawn county final against Mountbellew-Moylough, they came close to being caught at the very end.

Since then, a lot of class has shone through for Corofin but their journey so far does also illustrate the fact that a bit of luck and a few breaks are always needed along the way.

Last Sunday in Fr. O’Hara Park there was nothing left to chance or luck. Corofin, by a country mile, were in a different class to Charlestown and could have ended up winning this game by a 20 point margin, rather than 13.

Yards faster to the ball, they swarmed around in packs for the breaks and were always that bit too cunning and mobile in attack for a Charlestown side struggling from the early exchanges to stay in contention.

So why, were Corofin at this stage of the year, so sharp and so fit looking when maybe a bit of end of season, mid-winter fatigue might have been expected to set in?

Manager Gerry Keane is quick to pay tribute to the training regime of Martin McNamara which he said had always put the emphasis on speed, agility and sharpness. The overall plan for the year could also have helped too.

“Our season from 2008 didn’t end until last February and we were all a bit down after losing to Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland semi-final. A lot of the lads felt we might have done better but we took a conscious decision to take a break from training and just get things going from our first Galway senior league match.

“It was a strategy which did give us some trouble early on. Other teams had a lot of work put in and we were playing catch-up and I suppose we did have to survive our early scares against Micheál Breathnach and Carraroe, but from there on we were improving all the way.

“Even in the drawn match against Mountbellew, I still felt that overall we played very well, apart from missing all the chances, but the easy start to the season definitely has left us fresher as the year went on,” said Keane.

Corofin had a lot of league slip-ups and this Saturday, they need to beat Caherlistrane to be certain of maintaining their Division 1A status, but in the greater overall picture for a side with a Connacht title under their belt – and lots of ambition still left in the tank – that’s a sacrifice that they’re willing to make.

That ability to stand back and look at the bigger picture stood to Corofin last Sunday. Charlestown were full of tension and angst in their bid to do well but Corofin had been there before – they were calm but sharp too.

Indeed after the match when the Charlestown representatives made their usual ‘good luck’ speech in the Corofin dressing room, they remarked on the calmness of the players. There was no howling or jumping around – this was a moment that they had expected to happen.

Keane though is quick to point out that this does not in any way reflect an arrogant attitude but rather the fact that the players are well grounded and well focused. They know that there are bigger challenges ahead.

“We all enjoyed Sunday night and Monday too – it was a completion of the work of 2009 and you have to enjoy the moment too. We will largely tick over in training until Christmas but come January 1st, the pace will be stepped up as we prepare for the challenge of St. Galls.

“To be honest, as of now, we don’t know that much about them but any team that wins an Ulster title in such a convincing fashion has to be taken very seriously.

“Things are shaping up okay for us though. Kieran Fitzgerald will be back in the New Year, Alan O’Donovan is also back to fitness while Damien Burke underwent an operation for a Gilmore’s groin injury. Damien will be back in training by the end of December so our squad should be quite strong come January.

“The parish has given great support to the team but like us they share the ambition of winning a second All-Ireland club title. The victory of ’98 was a wonderful one but by the time St. Patrick’s Day, 2010, arrives that will have been 12 years ago. That’s a gap we’d dearly like to close,” said Keane.

One link with that 1998 team is this year’s captain, Kieran Comer, who came on as a sub in that victory over Erin’s Isle as a 16-year-old – last Sunday he was the seasoned campaigner who lifted the Shane McGettigan Cup after their 2-14 to 0-7 win over Charlestown.

For a full match report, photos and analysis see pages 55 & 56 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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GalwayÕs U-13 and U-16 sides both through to national finals

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 14-May-2013

Mike Rafferty

It proved to be a very successful weekend for Galway Schoolboy soccer as two representative sides qualified for national finals at the end of the month.

It was drama all the way in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday afternoon as the U-13 side drew 1-1 with the Midlands League, but came through the dreaded penalty shootout to prevail by 5-4.


Meanwhile the U-16 side had to travel to Cork, where they emerged 2-1 winners following a very impressive performance. For the second game in succession, it was the goals of the Connolly brothers that proved crucial to both team’s success.

Andrew lines out with the U-16 side and he notched both their scores in terrific away win, while younger brother Aaron was on target for the U-13 side and also converted the winning spot kick.

Mervue United captured a third consecutive Connacht Youth Cup with an impressive 4-1 win over Castlebar Celtic in Milebush on Saturday.


Galway League 1

Midlands League 1

(AET-Galway won 5-4 on pens)

A low scoring contest might indicate few chances, but one has to credit two outstanding defences whose splendid covering and marshalling of the front men was a joy to watch.

Galway’s Oisin McDonagh and Adam Rooney never put a foot wrong in central defence, while full-backs Byron Lydon and Matthew Tierney were equally efficient in defence, and getting forward with regular forays.

Further afield, they matched the visitors in terms of intensity and creativity and in the second half in particular should have pulled away from a Midlands side that won the U-12 national title last year.

The visitors certainly offered the greater attacking threat in the opening half, but found home custodian Mark Greaney in top form. Galway’s best chance fell to Joshua Quinlivan, but he pulled an effort wide of the target.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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