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Elwood era begins with home tie against Dragons

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Date Published: {J}

Rob Murphy

CONNACHT will embark on the new campaign with a fresh sense of purpose this Saturday evening. The Newport Dragons are in town for a 5:30 kick off and the television station that is synonymous with the west of Ireland, TG4, will be there.

 

Their presence is appropriate as the game marks the first for a fledgling head coach with a huge sporting reputation out west. Eric Elwood’s first game at the helm is a tough task with a fair amount of pressure attached but he has made a career of jumping in at the deep end.

There is a decent symmetry to the fact that back in 1989 when Elwood joined the Connacht squad for the first time, a Connacht man was also in charge. Declan McDermott was at the helm. The former Bish and Corinthian was the last home grown head coach out west. It has been some wait.

Elwood seems ready, he has portrayed a decent balance of nerves and confidence so far this week. His players are no doubt in the same boat. It has been far from an ideal preparation. At one point last week there were 16 players carrying knocks from a squad of 30 (by some distance the smallest squad in the League).

Additions from last year include Ezra Taylor at eight (big boots to fill there with Naoupu departing for Japan), Cillian Willis from Ulster along with young Leinster pair Shane Monahan and Darragh Fanning.

Outside of that, it is the same squad that made some significant and tangible progress last season in Michael Bradley’s seventh term. The Challenge Cup home semi final against Toulon was a watershed day for the province. A sell out 6,500 crowd and a city that turned green for a weekend.

It offered a glimpse of what could be a solid future for the game in Galway and the west of Ireland, but there is a reality attached to that dream. For such days to be guaranteed, the Magners League form must improve and all this with as small a squad as ever.

The IRFU clearly weren’t convinced by the progress. They are still to sanction contract extensions beyond 2011 and Elwood has bemoaned this nationally already. His forthright and determined public plea to the power brokers is hugely encouraging as Connacht’s quiet behind the scenes grumbles have suited the Union just fine in the past.

The Bank of Ireland are back on board for a 14th year and, according to CEO Gerry Kelly, the support from the local business community has never been as strong. The impact of April’s run of huge games has played a pivotal role in such support from sponsors, big and small.

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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