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Eager Connacht in no mood to stand off French giants



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

ALL the action may have been off field for Connacht Rugby so far this week but the attention focuses back to the pitch tonight as Michael Bradley’s men – yes, he’s still in charge regardless of Wednesday’s unveiling of new coach Eric Elwood – host Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground (8pm).

With just two wins from 10 attempts in this year’s competition, Connacht will be desperate to record a victory and get their League campaign back on track even if, in reality, their season will be judged on their European Cup record and not whether or not they finish bottom of the Magners League.

April’s Cup quarter-final home clash with Bourgoin must be the priority but in terms of gathering momentum and getting into the habit of winning again, Connacht could badly do with a win tonight.

Connacht have not beaten a Scottish side since the 15-8 win over Glasgow at the Sportsground in September 2008 and reversing that ugly statistic will be tough given at least two of Bradley’s regular starters and top players – Ray Ofisa and Niva Ta’auso – have been ruled out through injury.

The Corkman has made five changes to the team that narrowly lost to the Ospreys last month with Aidan Wynne coming in instead of Ta’auso to partner Keith Matthews in the centre and Johnny O’Connor returns to the back row for Ofisa.

Frank Murphy comes back in at scrum-half renewing his partnership with out-half Ian Keatley; with full-back Gavin Duffy and wingers Troy Nathan and Fionn Carr completing the backline.

Prop Jamie Hagan gets the nod ahead of Robbie Morris, who moves to the bench, with Brett Wilkinson and Seán Cronin completing the front-row while Mike McCarthy comes back into the second row along with Michael Swift. Conor O’Loughlin, Dermot Murphy, Liam Bibo and Andrew Browne were also not consider due to injuries.

Despite the province’s impressive European Cup record this season, Connacht’s last Magners League victory was more than four months ago when they overcame the Scarlets 16-10 at home on October 30.

Connacht have lost their last three Magners League clashes since then, away to Cardiff Blues (21-9) and Munster (35-3) in December and to the Ospreys (19-17) in Swansea in February, although the westerners should have won the latter match and can take heart from the performance in Wales, particularly their scrummaging.

The Warriors have named a weakened team with top international players Chris Cusiter, Dan Parks, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie, all rested ahead of their country’s Six Nations tie with England at Murrayfield.

But the visitors still travel with a strong side with the likes of Dougie Hall and Tim Barker in the pack and Colin Shaw and captain Mark McMillan in the backs. The Warriors, who lie second in the table a couple of points behind leaders Ospreys, are unbeaten in their last four away encounters in the Magners League but have never before managed a sequence of five league away games without losing.

Connacht will be anxious to get back to winning ways – if for no other reason than to boost the crowd and gate receipts for their six, and possibly seven, remaining home fixtures.

The last five games between these two sides have all been won by the home side and that should remain the case tonight.

Connacht: G. Duffy, T. Nathan, K. Matthews, A. Wynne, F. Carr, I. Keatley, F. Murphy; B. Wilkinson, S. Cronin, J. Hagan, M. Swift, M. McCarthy, J. Muldoon, J. O’Connor, G. Naoupu. Replacements: A. Flavin, R. Morris, B. Upton, M. McComish, K. Campbell, M. Nikora, B. Tuohy.

Warriors: B. Stortoni, C. Shaw, P. Murchie, P. Horne, D. van der Merwe, R. Jackson, M. McMillan; J. Welsh, D. Hall, E. Kalman, T. Barker, D. Turner, J. Eddie, C. Forrester, R. Vernon.

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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