Date Published: 04-Oct-2012
CONNACHT Coach Eric Elwood hasn’t ruled out returning to the province he has served for more than half of his life at some point in the future.
“At this point in my life, I’ll never say never but right now this is the right decision for me,” said the 43-year-old after his bombshell announcement on Wednesday that he is to step aside from the province at the end of this season, when his three year contract expires.
Elwood indicated that rugby was all consuming and had almost taken over his life for the past 25 years. He said he was stepping back from the position to focus on other things in his life that are important to him – his family.
The Mervue native, who is synonymous with Connacht Rugby, is and always has been a fan’s favourite and, a bit like Kenny Dalglish for Liverpool FC, is considered a ‘folk hero’ out west, said the decision was a difficult one to make but he has “no regrets”.
“I suppose it is a shock but I’ve thought about it for a while now, I’ve spoken with my wife, I’ve spoken with my kids, even though they’re still young, 13, eight and six, and I’ve spoken with my close friends.
I’ve given over 20 years service to Connacht, that’s a huge part of my life, 12 years as player, five as assistant coach, and three years as head coach. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past while . . . there’re a few things I know I need to do like spending more time with my kids.
“My job is 24/7. Even when I’m off, during the week, going for a walk on the Prom or down Barna Pier, people are talking to me about rugby, and that’s fine, it’s good that people are interested in Connacht Rugby, but I just can’t seem to get away from it,” he said.
Elwood has transformed Connacht’s fortunes in the league, steering the province to its highest ever finish last season, as well as making them competitive in the province’s first season in the Heineken Cup, against Toulouse, Gloucester and Harlequins. He did so by blooding a young bunch of home-grown exciting talent, through building a solid defence and a more ambitious style of attacking play that saw attendance figures at the Sportsground soar last season, in particular.
Elwood looked set to lead Connacht for as long as he wanted the position.
An announcement like this, out of the blue, that has shocked the rugby public in Galway and the West, is always going to feed conspiracy theories about whether he was pushed or had something else lined up.
The timing of the announcement, so early in the season, a couple of days after the superb Leinster victory, a day after the launch of the Heineken Cup and few days before an important trip to Ulster, and not long after the appointment of a new CEO, Tom Sears, fuelled that type of speculation among rugby supporters.
But Elwood rubbished any of those suggestions and said, honestly, that the decision had nothing to do with results, on-field issues or performances, or a lack of support from his employers; and he stressed he would give 100% to the job ‘til the end of the season.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.