Date Published: 21-Oct-2009
MOUNTBELLEW/MOYLOUGH exhausted their full magazine of bravery at Tuam Stadium on Sunday but in the end it just wasn’t enough to stop Corofin on their relentless if unhurried march to a 13th county senior football title.
Overall this was better fare than the drawn match with Mountbellew-Moylough’s whirlwind 1-2 headstart giving this replay a lot of intrigue, but although Corofin were always playing catch-up, there was a sense all through the second half that Gerry Keane’s side would just do enough to prevail.
The Corofin defence was unhinged early on but after that it was business as usual for the division under the control of Kieran Fitzgerald, as they completely snuffed out the threat of a Mountbellew forward line whose cause certainly wasn’t helped by being a man down after the opening quarter.
Seventeen minutes into the match, Mountbellew lost centre back Mark Geraghty for standing down on Corofin’s Kieran Comer – earlier he had been booked for a series of off the ball jostles on Comer and he needed to be extra careful: he wasn’t, and referee Muiris Mac Gearailt had little option but to apply the ultimate sanction just over midway through the half.
It is probable, that even in the numbers imbalance hadn’t occurred, Corofin would still have prevailed given their greater overall sharpness throughout the pitch, but from a Mountbellew perspective, conceding a man to the opposition made their cause an extremely difficult one.
Corofin are just too good of a footballing side to give an extra man to and as the match wore on, Mountbellew found it increasingly difficult to threaten the winners’ defence – anything sent in long and high invariably came back out just as quickly, while the short option was often snuffed out by that extra man in defence.
Mountbellew-Moylough lacked nothing by way of heart, commitment and spirit. They defended their early lead vigorously, contesting every ball with venom and it wasn’t until the 60th minute of the match that Corofin finally got their noses in front – when they did though, they were never going to get caught.
Corofin too will be happy enough with the character they showed in a self revival programme after enduring the ‘start from hell’ to this game. After two early Mountellew points from Joe Meehan and Cathal Kenny, Cyril Ryan’s side struck for a well worked goal which rocked Corofin to the core.
Sean Sweeney, Stephen Boyle and Gary Sweeney combined in the 11th minute to set up Cathal Kenny in a one to one confrontation with Corofin ‘keeper, David Morris – the Mountbellew full forward finished low and clinically to the net.
The first quarter was just over when Corofin struck for their first score of the match, a well taken point from Greg Higgins, before Kieran Comer had a low goal bound shot diverted for a ’45’ by the outstretched boot of ‘keeper, Brian Donnellan.
Seventeen minutes into the match, Mark Geraghty got his marching orders for what appeared to be a stamping offence against Comer, an incident which was to have a sea change effect on the match.
Mountbellew responded by bringing on Dermot Donnellan for corner forward Sean Sweeney – who had been doing okay in attack – in a move based on the general strategy of ‘holding what we have’.
Colm Colleran was pulled back from midfield to defence with Eoin Wall also taking a step back to the centre field area leaving Mountbellew with just five forwards to take on a Corofin defence again superbly marshalled by Kieran Fitzgerald, although he was lucky to escape censure for one rash second half swing when storming upfield. Significantly that ‘escape’ ended with a Kieran Comer point.
Cathal Kenny from a free and Kieran Comer exchanged late first half points as Mountbellew went in at a half-time to a rousing cheer from their supporters in the crowd of about 4,000. They were a man down but they still had held onto their one goal lead at 1-3 to 0-3.
In a significant interval change, Corofin introduced Ronan Steede to the attack and were rewarded when the county minor landed two points in the third quarter, in addition to a well taken effort from play by Kieran Comer.
Mountbellew again had to rely on ‘keeper Brian Donnellan to keep them ahead nine minutes into the second half, after slick work by Joe Canney and David Hanly carved open their defence – the final pass looked destined to reach the hands of Kieran Comer but Donnellan, with a spectacular dive, got a hand to the ball to prevent a certain goal.
The save seemed to inspire Mountbellew, as did an injury to Joe Bergin which really seemed to fire up the county player. He won a few great balls towards the end of the third quarter as well as kicking an inspirational point while Eoin Wall also hit the target for a score which put his side 1-5 to 0-5 ahead with just over 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
Mountbellew-Moylough supporters dared to dream at this point of a glorious end to their championship campaign but alas there were to be no other scores for the title pretenders – on more than a couple of occasions hard won balls were given away too cheaply and Corofin were again the masters of the loose exchanges.
A 52nd minute Joe Canney point left them just one behind at 1-5 to 0-7 before Alan Burke – who delivered a busy finish – landed the leveling score with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Corofin were by now relentlessly sweeping forward with Mountbellew largely tied down in their own half – just 30 seconds of normal time remained when Aidan Donnellan eyed up the posts from 35 yards to land the point which put side in front for the first time. During three minutes of injury time, Joe Canney and sub Shane Monaghan added the insurance scores to secure the title for Corofin.
Another solid team effort from Corofin and a deserved victory too, even if the neutrals were, almost to a man, hoping for a change in the balance of power in the Galway club scene. Not Corofin’s problem though . . . human nature will always swing sympathy the way of the underdog.
After a dodgy start, their defence tightened up rapidly and never looked like getting caught again with Kieran Fitzgerald, Damien Burke and Tony Goggins giving nothing away.
Greg Higgins and Aidan Donnellan faced a tougher battle in midfield this time around, while up front Joe Canney and sub Ronan Steede looked dangerous, although the focal point for most of their attacks through the hour, was Kieran Comer. He was always showing for the ball, either high or low, and into the bargain kicked two fine points from play in a man-of-the-match performance. Maybe too, worth another chance on the county scene.
So close and yet so far for Mountbellew, although managers Cyril Ryan and Martin Boyle will take a lot of solace from the unflinching spirit and character of the side. The sending off was a heavy blow to their chances but they’re probably short another forward or two, with a bit of beef on board as well, to finish them off as a side with a real chance of winning a county title . . . and they don’t come in lucky bags.
‘Keeper Brian Donnellan can always looks back on his two county final appearances with great pride – his second half save brought one of the cheers of the day from the crowd.
Gary Sweeney, Colm Colleran, Joss Moore, Patrick Gardiner, Joe Bergin, Eoin Wall and Cathal Kenny typified the spirit of a side that gave this final one good shot. In the end – with just six scores on the board – they were, quite simply, beaten by a better all-round side. Even bravery has its limitations.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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