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Dynamic Connacht hooker is ready for Bourgoin

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Date Published: {J}

THERE is one word that keeps cropping up when Connacht Rugby hooker Sean Cronin is alluded to in press clippings and match reports. That word is ‘dynamic’, and in the Irish international’s case, it is certainly an apt description.

The Castletroy native– a modest, approachable young man, who is clearly enjoying his time in the West of Ireland – smiles at the description. “I suppose, it was always something I had in my game and you always, then, try to add little bits and work on your pace and stuff,” says Cronin as he relaxes in The Huntsman on Dublin Road.

“I am lucky enough to have the bit of pace and it has kind of helped me in my position as hooker. Strength and conditioning is also such a big part of the game, especially in the professional ranks now. So, having the bit of pace combined with size is a huge advantage, especially in Connacht, where we try to play a nice open brand of rugby. That suits me down to the ground. It (dynamism) is a good attribute to have.”

No doubt, it has stood Cronin in good stead so far, having already at such a young age for a front row forward – just 23 years – been capped for Ireland against Fiji (November 2009) and Wales (March 2010). Indeed, some would say his all-action approach to the game is very much reminiscent of an inspirational Keith Wood.

“You would look at great players like him (Wood), and you can’t help but pick up a few things watching him. He was a top, top class player. You also have to look, though, at the other types of hookers as well; the more dynamic fellows like (Keven) Mealamu from New Zealand and (Dimitri) Szarzewski from France. They are very dynamic in the tight, enclosed areas as well.

“That is something that is crucial as you step up in grade to international level. It is trying to get the balance right between the two. Then, of course, you have your basics, your line-out throwing and your scrummaging which are both majorly important. Ultimately, that is what you are judged on.”

Although disappointed not to get more game time in the Six Nations – in particular in the Triple Crown decider against Scotland – Cronin knows he has to be patient. All in its own good time. Besides, his progress to date has been astounding, especially given that the great John Hayes, who reached the 100 cap mark during the Six Nations, only made his international debut at the age of 26.

“I suppose, you are still building up the experience by being up there in the set-up,” says the 23-year-old, who notes the transition from club to international level and back to club level again was akin to a rollercoaster ride. No doubt, it must have been a real high to wear the Irish jersey against Wales in front of 75,000 or so people at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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