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Connor says Utd job is the toughest of his career to date



Date Published: {J}

It was something of a break with tradition when Galway United announced Sean Connor as their new manager earlier this year, the fourth man to take the hot-seat in 22 months.

United have typically opted for a rookie manager, as the previous four appointments of Ian Foster, Jeff Kenna, Tony Cousins and Stephen Lally shows, but this time around the club’s Board opted for experience in bringing in the Belfast native.

With experience comes a certain level of expectation, and Connor has admitted that he was shocked by the lack of structures in place at United, despite having been warned as to the bare look on the cupboard.

“It was really a surprise, there was nothing there when I came in, nothing. The club doesn’t even have a training ground of its own, and it has been a fractious few weeks trying to get somewhere to train.

“There were no players signed when I took over, so with just trying to put a squad together and get somewhere to train, it has put us a few weeks behind everyone else and I think the season is starting probably two weeks too early for us, but we’ll just have to get on with it,” he says.

The expectation that experience will bring a certain degree of success goes both way, and United fans are hailing Connor’s appointment as a turning point for the club. He hopes that will be the case, but he is pleading for patience as he tries to “build this club up from nothing”.

“I would plead with the fans to be patient. The goal this season is to stay out of the bottom three, that is it. Hopefully we’ll achieve that and build from there, but it will be a slow process, we have a very small budget and a low fan base, which is a major surprise given the size of this city, so things will take time,” he says.

It is no secret that Connor will be operating off the smallest budget in the Premier Division this season of €3,000 a week, but despite that, he appears to have attracted some real quality to United, which is fuelling expectations on the terraces.

City native Stephen O’Donnell has joined his home-town club, experienced defender Thomas Heary has also come on board, while fans’ favourite Bobby Ryan returns to the club having picked up league medals with Bohemians and Shelbourne, as well as stints at Dunfermline and St Patrick’s Athletic.

“The players who have come in deserve a lot of credit for accepting the small deals we had to offer. They obviously want to play, and hopefully we have put a good squad together, but it might take them some time to gel and again, I would appeal for a bit of patience as we build for the future,” Connor says.

Part of that building process has seen NUI Galway step in to offer United use of a pitch at Dangan to train, as well as use of the Elite Athletes gym at the university’s Kingfisher Club, something for which Connor is very grateful.

“The college has been very good to us, coming in at a tough time for the club. I was surprised to find when I came here that there was no weights training programme, but that has changed, and the use of the gym and the swimming pool is very welcome,” he says.

United open their league campaign with a trip to Richmond Park to take on St Patrick’s Athletic, a side United beat four times last season, but Connor doesn’t see that happening again.

“Pete Mahon and John Gill have put together a very good squad, I think you’ll have Bohs and Shamrock Rovers challenging for the title, and after them you’ll have Sporting Fingal, Sligo Rovers and Pats. We will be in the third section, and we need to make sure we finish top of that mini-league,” he says.

St Pat’s v Galway Utd, Friday, 7.45pm, Dublin.

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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