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Craughwell and St. ThomasÕ lead mini-revolution



Date Published: {J}

A MINI revolution has already taken place in this year’s Galway senior hurling championship. For the first time in a decade, the semi-final line up will feature neither Portumna nor Loughrea, while St. Thomas’ have reached the last four for the first time since the late eighties, along with a Craughwell team which, so far in 2011, has certainly been making light of its reputation for being a ‘bit flaky’ when the pressure comes on.

Of course, champions Clarinbridge are still on the premises and the manner in which they emphatically dismissed Mullagh’s disappointing challenge in last Sunday’s semi-final replay at Kenny Park underlines the fact that John Lee’s squad remain the team to beat. A few of their players, like Jamie Cannon, the Kerins brothers, and Paul Coen, may be moving on in years, but you can’t put a price on experience at the business end of the championship.

The final club to have made it to the county semi-final is Gort, but their progress this year comes as no real surprise despite their failure to even emerge from the group stages in 2010 – a scenario more reflective of complacency among the players and management rather than the talent in the squad. To their credit, Gort have heeded the lesson in humility and with Richie Cummins finally recovered from that protracted ankle injury, they look well equipped to make a bold bid for a first title since 1983.

Frankly, they will be expected to get through Sunday’s South Galway semi-final derby collision with a young St. Thomas’ outfit whose narrow win over Portumna in the quarter-finals reads better on paper than was the actual reality. The former kingpins were seriously undermined by suspensions to Joe Canning and Andy Smith, not forgetting the continuing of Michael Dolphin’s injury nightmare.

Portumna’s troubles on the day were best highlighted by the selection of long-time regular goalkeeper Ivan Canning in attack, while his veteran brother, David, was asked to gallop around in a midfield role.

For all that, Portumna nearly survived and it took an exhibition of point scoring from young James Regan to help St. Thomas’ tip the balance in their favour. They are a team I have been keeping a close eye on for several years now and it’s encouraging that John Burke’s squad have finally made a big breakthrough despite almost failing to emerge from their group. In their multitude of Burkes, together with the Kellys and Cooneys, they have no shortage of emerging young talent, but understandably St. Thomas’ still have to develop the physical hardness which is so critical for outright glory, especially as the year drags on and bad weather becomes a greater influence on matches.

You’d imagine that St. Thomas’ wouldn’t possess the steel to cope with a Gort outfit which has no shortage of experience – it’s only 2008 since they last appeared in a county final – and really looked like a team on good terms with itself in comfortably disposing of Loughrea earlier in the month. The likes of Peter Cummins, Mark McMahon, Sylvie Og Linnane, Andy Coen, Jason Grealish, Greg Lally, Gerry Quinn, Ollie Fahy, the teak-tough Paul Killilea, Aidan Harte and Cummins will spearhead their challenge on Sunday, while Brian Regan, out for several months with a bad hand injury, should also be match sharper after returning for the quarter-final.

The second semi-final has even more of a derby appeal to it and it’s not overstating the reality to insist that Craughwell and title holders Clarinbridge wouldn’t have much time for each other. There’s nothing wrong with that as the GAA’s lifeblood at grassroots level stems from the intense rivalry between neighbouring parishes so, against that background, we wait in anticipation of a spicy affair on Sunday.

The ‘Bridge almost came a cropper in their drawn match against Mullagh, but they heeded the lessons from that outing in making no mistake in the clubs’ weekend replay. Obviously, Eanna Murphy’s softly conceded first-half goal was a self-inflicted blow Mullagh could have done without but, ultimately, you can’t argue with a ten points beating. Clarinbridge appear to be hitting the groove at just the right time again.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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