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Connacht’s High Kings focus on the big one

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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

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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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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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