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Corofin’s winning pedigree stands to champs again

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Date Published: 21-Oct-2009

YOU have to admire Corofin. Our hearts can go out to the gallant losers but we must take our hats off to Corofin. It’s hard to put a finger on it but they just have an extraordinary knack for winning.
Corofin footballers were made for county finals – and bred to win them. On Sunday, at Tuam Stadium the North Board kingpins secured the club’s 13th county title – and tenth since 1991 – with a defiant late surge that just about pipped a brave Mountbellew/Moylough team who were literally out on their feet having struggled against the tide for 45 minutes or more with just 14-men.
Corofin have won a county title on average once every two years in the past two decades. It’s an extraordinary statistic when you think about it. Not many club teams in the country can boost of such an impressive record, but that’s what they do – Corofin are winners.
You might beat them every now and then in the league, maybe get one over on them, on an off-day, in the early rounds of the championship but once there’s a whiff of a county medal they are relentless.
Mountbellew/Moylough’s impressive record of winning the last two county final replays they appeared in – against Corofin in 1974 and against Milltown in 1986 – gave the outsiders hope and the superstitious confidence that they might topple the reigning champions in the 2009 replay.
But it is the recent tradition that was of more importance and Corofin haven’t lost a county final since 1990 when they were beaten by Salthill/Knocknacarra who subsequently went on to win the All-Ireland. Putting back to back county titles together is notoriously difficult – you lack hunger facing into a new year as reigning champions. Or so the theory goes.
Corofin, however, knocked that thesis on its head again on Sunday and showed an enormous drive, determination, mental strength and backbone to conjure up a late assault to win their first back-to-back county senior titles since the successes of 1997 and 1998, and only the club’s second back-to-back title ever.
After Sunday’s momentous victory, Corofin trainer and selector Martin McNamara told Tribune Sport that the fact that nobody outside Corofin wanted them to win, was a major motivating factor in Sunday’s triumph. It’s the Corofin siege mentality – us against the county; us against the world. They’re all out to get us but we’ll show them. And they did, if only just.
“The big motivation really is that absolutely nobody in the county, apart from the 30 or so lads in the dressing room and our own hardcore supporters from Corofin, wanted us to win it today.
“Everybody wanted Mountbellew to win; it’s only nature that neutrals would support the underdogs and that’s a huge motivation for us. It’s been that way for Corofin for years – we don’t have too many neutrals supporting us but that helps to motivate us and it drives us on,” said McNamara.
Corofin Captain Kieran Comer, who was Corofin’s main protagonist on Sunday, added that the team bond and friendship also spurred them on. “We are over the moon. It’s not many teams that put back-to-back county titles together and it’s nice to do that,” said Comer.
“It wasn’t easy all year, every game was a dog fight and it was a pure dog fight again today. It is January 2008 when we started training – it’s been a long, tough two years and it was hard to keep focused to do the two-in-a-row. What keeps us going is the training, we enjoy training together every night with the lads, we’re all friends and we want to win for each other.
“They fairly got out of the traps whereas we were very sluggish. Mountbellew are a serious team with serious players. We just had to keep clawing our way back in, pick a point off here and there. It took us a while but we began to get on top in the last quarter. Two weeks ago when they drew level with us the momentum was with them and a few more minutes on the clock and they could have won. When we got back level the momentum was with us today,” added Comer.
Many observers felt Corofin would have had the drawn match won by half-time two Sundays previous if they had been more clinical upfront. So did the forwards get a lot of ‘stick’ the last day after hitting 13 fairly kickable wides and was that another factor in their replay performance?
“Ah we did get a bit (of stick) but the thing about the last day is they weren’t bad wides, they weren’t crazy shots,” said full-forward Joe Canney.
“It was just one of those days where they didn’t go over for us. You’ll have days like that, on another day they’d all go over for you and you’re a hero – it’s a fine line.
“The drawn game was a motivating factor in a way but we take good criticism with the bad and at this stage it is water off a ducks back for us listening to all the criticism. We missed a lot the last day but we knew there was a lot more in Mountbellew from the drawn game and we knew we had to up our game.
“We conceded early today but the thing about conceding early is there’s always time to come back. We knew we had the ability to come back. We never panicked when the scores went in early. There were a few scary moments for us there but we dug it out in the end,” added Canney.
McNamara, an All-Ireland club and county medal winner, was refreshingly honest in the dressing room after the match about the management’s first half tactics. “It (sending off) worked against us for a while. I suppose on the line we didn’t get it right. We were probably too cautious and held our extra man back sitting in front of their two inside forwards.
“As it worked out, in hindsight it probably was nearly the wrong thing to do and we should probably have driven on. We changed tactics in the second half and we drove on a little bit and it worked out for us in the end and I think there was probably a bit of good fortune in it as well.
“We brought a young lad Ronan Steede on, he’s only 18 – what a legend – he kicked two points and it was just like a training session to him. The pressure didn’t get to him at all and it’s fantastic to have somebody like that to call on from the bench.
“We won it the hard way. Mountbellew were very unfortunate, they probably played much better than us for the 60 minutes but the extra man caught them out in the end. They had so much work put in they just ran out of steam in the last few minutes that allowed us to get the extra couple of scores – your heart would have to go out to them, they fought right to the end. We’re just delighted to win, we came strong in the end and we’ll have a bit of a celebration tonight,” said McNamara.

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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First local bragging rights of the new season go to Mervue Utd

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Date Published: 18-Mar-2013

Mervue United 2

Salthill Devon 1

Jason Byrne at Fahy’s Field

Mervue United have earned the early bragging rights in the latest instalment of a derby clash with their old rivals Salthill Devon thanks to first half goals from Tom King and youngster Ryan Manning at Fahy’s Field on Friday night.

Old teammates were re-united on the field as the likes Jason Molloy, Tom King, Gary Curran, Paul Sinnott and new Devon signing Derek O’Brien were among the names who used to wear the maroon of dormant Galway United.

Mervue came out of the blocks strongly and Curran unleashed the first meaningful shot after six minutes which failed to trouble Ronan Forde and glanced wide.

Two minutes later, former Mervue striker Enda Curran fired Devon’s first effort from distance but steered well clear of the target.

Almost immediately at the other end, Mervue thought they had taken the lead when King was released into the box and his shot squirmed under Forde towards goal, but Devon skipper Eugene Greaney was at hand to clear off the line.

Three minutes later, an almost identical move was executed by Mervue as Brendan Lavelle played King in, who this time opted to dink over the advancing Forde for a marvellous finish to give Mervue a deserved 1-0 lead.

Mervue immediately searched for another as Manning picked out Varley, and with his cross he searched for Lavelle but William Enubele cleared just as Lavelle was about to head it.

From the resulting corner, Manning whipped it in to Varley, whose shot was well blocked by Colm Horgan.

A second goal was coming, and it arrived on 18 minutes when King played a neat exchange with Paul Sinnott and he squared for Manning, who shot first-time to bag his first League of Ireland goal.

Following this it looked as if Mervue could further stretch their lead by half-time, but Devon kept their heads up and as a result of their hard work they eventually began to find their feet.

As the interval drew closer O’Brien – who had been eventually signed by Devon just hours before the kick-off – collected a long hopeful ball from Forde and cut inside but blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Five minutes later, Enda Curran won a loose ball and his pace proved too much for Michael McSweeney but his shot was well saved by Gleeson.

On the break Mervue pelted forward and Lavelle saw another effort blocked by the omnipresent Greaney who was a rock at the back. Lavelle collected again and squared for Manning, but this time he mishit his shot and Forde caught easily.

On the stroke of half-time the teenager had another go at bagging his second but his free-kick sailed well over into the astroturf cages at Fahy’s Field.

A crowd of almost 300 people made their way to the east side of the city to witness the encounter, and perhaps a mixture of the heavy rain in the hour before kick-off along with the racing at Cheltenham earlier in the day affected the attendance.

The second-half failed to prove as entertaining as the first as Devon kept fighting hard to claw back into the contest and prevent a third goal which would have ended their chances of getting points on the board.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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Festival whets the appetite for new food experiences

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Date Published: 21-Mar-2013

I know it’s hard to believe, but there are well-grounded, consistent reports in recent weeks that Fianna Fáil nationally has been receiving a large number of new applications for membership of the party.

When I heard it first, I thought to myself – sounds like new recruits to join the crew of the Titanic. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if they knew something that the rest of us didn’t.

For, FF showed a bounce in two recent opinion polls. And then George Lee did his walkout from Fine Gael, leaving FG and Enda Kenny to watch anxiously in the coming months as further polls come in, and the Kenny leadership comes under renewed pressure.

 

Fine Gael is still well ahead in the polls, but you write off FF at your peril. The old Fianna Fáil ‘faith’ still runs deep even among many of those who are now angry at the way the country was allowed to run on to the economic rocks under FF stewardship.

On the face of it, it sounds like FF shouldn’t be an even vaguely attractive prospect for new members . . . you can be damn sure that FF unpopularity was one of the main reasons that Galway West TD Noel Grealish (formerly of the PDs and now Independent) wouldn’t touch joining the FF Parliamentary Party with a barge pole and has been flexing his political muscle in recent months as an Independent.

That’s despite FF Ministers Eamon Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey courting Grealish for months to join FF, with even speculation of a junior ministry ‘sweetener’ at some stage when Brian Cowen eventually carries out that long-threatened reshuffle.

Wonder if Grealish would reconsider now? For there’s no denying that in recent weeks in FF there has been a sneaking dawning feeling that, if they could just hold off the General Election until 2012, then maybe – just maybe! – at least their bedrock support might have come back by then and the massacre of FF TDs might not be quite as bloody as has been predicted for the past year.

Why, some FFrs believe they might even have enough TDs left to cosy-up to the Labour Party. That’s provided of course they can hold out to 2012 and their government partners, the Greens, don’t tear themselves apart in the meantime with their habit of washing dirty linen in public.

People like Grealish would have been hoping that some of the FF voters might go for the ‘first cousin’ in the shape of a former PD like himself – well weren’t the PDs just a family row in FF? The big test for angry or wavering FF supporters on election day in a place like Galway West would be just how many of them would vote Fine Gael? I have always been of the belief that ‘the hand would wither’ before they could give ‘the blueshirts’ a vote.

Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, the pressure has transferred to Fine Gael. They are the ones who now have to worry about any slippage in support, they have convince us that they could run the economy better . . . and against this shaky new background, they also have to worry about ‘upping their game’ in key areas like Galway West.

One of the most recent opinion polls showed the highest regional level of support for Fine Gael as being in Connacht-Ulster, which was traditionally the area which Fianna Fáil could count on as heartland. That has to be ‘the Enda Kenny factor’ coming through in constituencies close to his Mayo base, where FG had a huge 53% of the first preferences in 2007.

For more, read page 12 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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