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ConnachtÕs world appears to be falling apart on every level



Date Published: {J}

IN the space of little more than a fortnight, Connacht’s world has been turned upside down. Earlier this month, there was widespread celebration when the IRFU finally ended continued uncertainty about the squad’s medium-term future by putting in place new structures, pledging greater financial support, extending player and coaching contracts, and giving commitments about the transfer of promising players from their provincial counterparts.

Unfortunately, the roof has been caving in on Connacht ever since. Firstly, they failed to pick up a deserved bonus point in their away Amlin Cup defeat to Harlequins; secondly, reports began to emerge that three of the squad’s marquee players, Sean Cronin, Ian Keatley and Fionn Carr, were likely to be departing at the end of the season; thirdly, they crash out of the Amlin Cup when losing a dour return leg against Harlequins last Friday night; and, lastly, team captain John Muldoon has suffered a serious arm injury

That’s enough disappointment to deflate the most optimistic Connacht supporters and given that the team is without a competitive victory since mid-October, morale around the Sportsground must be understandably downbeat at present, especially as it has now been confirmed that the three players at the centre of last week’s transfer speculation will be leaving town next May.

Connacht deserve better than this; they deserve a break; but they are just having no luck. True, they remain admirably competitive and are playing with greater ambition under Eric Elwood, but the men in green are just lacking the ruthless streak and inherent belief to close the deal in tight matches.

I was one of the 1500 crowd at the Sportsground last Friday. It was a bitterly cold night and Connacht’s chances of surviving in the Amlin Cup were already in the extremely remote category. In the circumstances, the attendance was more than respectable but, unfortunately, the match fell well below expectations with the half-time score of 15-9 to Harlequins prevailing until the end of a match which produced few moments of enterprise.

Once again, however, it was a game Connacht could have won, notably when prop Ronan Loughney spilled the ball with the line at his mercy in the final quarter. The groans all around the Sportsground told their own story. That was the team’s big chance and even if winning would hardly have made much difference to their chances of reaching the knock-out stages of the Amlin Cup, it would have stopped the results rot.

Like all serious sporting teams, Connacht don’t want charity or to be the recipients of pious platitudes, but they are just down on their luck at present. Talking to Elwood last week, you could sense his frustration with it all. Nobody knows better that the Connacht coach about the work that’s going into the development of the team and the pride the players take in lining out for the province, but sport is a results driven business and Connacht are simply not hacking it in this most important area of all.

The news that Cronin, Carr and Keatley, three of the squad’s higher profile and influential players, are moving away next summer must be particularly demoralising. You can’t blame the individuals concerned for being tempted by better contracts and being involved with better teams, but where will it leave Connacht? – certainly worse off than before the IRFU’s big announcement in early December.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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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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