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Connor looks to freshen United squad



Date Published: 22-Jan-2010

GALWAY United’s preparations for the 2010 League of Ireland season are well underway, with new manager Sean Connor holding his first training sessions this week.

Connor had 15 players at his first training session on Tuesday – mostly made up of last season’s personnel, although Shaun Kelly, who played under the Belfast native at Dundalk was also invited to train with the squad, with a view to joining United for the new season.

Kelly is not the only former Dundalk player who Connor is hopeful of convincing to move West, with the United manager this week confirming to City Sport that he is in talks with a number of other former charges of his.

“We had Shaun Kelly train with us on Tuesday, and I would be very very interested in trying to get Thomas Heary and Chris Turner [to United]. Everyone knows how tight the finances are, but I’ve spoken to Thomas and hope to speak with him again, and likewise I have spoken to Chris Turner, so we’ll keep pushing away until we can make it happen.

“When I went to Dundalk what I needed to do was a similar situation to this club, I tried to put together a squad that would stay in the division, so I went for people I knew and who knew me. Some of them worked, some didn’t, but the good pros like [Liam] Burns, Heary and Turner, they are class players, if we get them here it will be fantastic, but I’m going to bring in fresh talent as well,” he said.

The trawl for that fresh talent is well underway, and Connor saying this week he hoped to have at least six new players training with the club this weekend. None of the six have played in the League of Ireland before, but Connor is confident some of them will be more than able to make the grade at that level.

As of yet, no players have actually put pen to paper with United for the coming season – all were out of contract at the end of the last campaign – but Connor is confident he will retain the members of that squad that he is interested in.

“Nobody is signed yet, but discussions are going along very well with key players who were here last year that we want to keep. I think what I have inherited, there is a core for a decent side, but what we need to do is put a bit of meat around it. Derek O’Brien in his position is probably one of the best players in the league. John Russell is in England, but if he comes back to the League of Ireland, I want him here – a midfield with Russell and Turner would be something. Barry Ryan, if there is a better keeper in the League now than Barry Ryan, I’d like to see him.

“Some of the other boys there are good young prospects. The players who have left, I have spoken to them, they have made their decision and we just get on with it. The job is hard enough worrying about the people you are working with rather than worrying about those not here; I don’t lose much sleep about people who don’t sign or people who leave the football club, that is part of management and you just get on with it,” he said.

One of the flaws many United fans feel the side has displayed in the last few seasons was a lack of ‘bite’, and Connor admits one of his priorities will be to put a bit of steel into the side.

“You look at the best teams in any league, they are able to look after themselves. At training on Tuesday I said to Gareth [Gorman, his assistant] we do look a bit lightweight, and we’re a small team as well, so we need to add a bit of physical strength. “What I will ask Galway fans is if they want a team that plays ‘tappy tappy’ stuff, or a team that is committed, because I will give you a team that is committed,” he said.

For more of this interview see page 45 of this week’s 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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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