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Exciting new venture for former Galway hurling goalkeeper

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Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

BY the end of the month, former Galway U-21 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper, Morgan Darcy will have swapped his Irish way of life – and its GAA trimmings – for the fresh new possibilities offered by a life in the USA.

For Darcy, his wife Deirdre (nee O’Sullivan) and three children, the impending move to the United States is loaded with equal measures of excitement and trepidation.

“It’s a massive change,” admits the Moycullen native. “I have been a home bird all my life and the furthest afield I have ever worked and lived would be Boyle in Roscommon or Athlone. So, to take a nine-hour flight to Atlanta to go working is a big deal.”

Currently the Contracts Director with Cordil Construction, Darcy will take up a new post created within the company, which is President of Construction in its United States subsidiary. This is a new direction for Cordil Construction, which has reacted to the shoots of growth across the Atlantic Ocean by also registering their company there.

“The plan for us (family) is to give it between three to five years and, to be honest with you it will all come down to the success of the company out there. I suppose, personally, this has come in a point in my life that I am now old enough in mindset and experience within the industry that I can do this, but I am also young enough, along with my family, to make such a move.”

That said, Darcy will be missed. For Moycullen and Galway, the 37-year-old – who played most of his hurling between the posts until his mid 20s – has given great service to both club and county … often up and beyond the call of duty.Like many goalkeepers, Darcy fell into the often unglamorous position. Suffering from asthma one day, the then 15-year-old was unfit to take up a position outfield for Fr. Griffin’s Tech and was asked would he be able to line out in goals instead. He did, pulling off a plethora of good saves, and before he knew it he was wearing the No. 1 jersey for both secondary school and club.

Some may have called it fate, given his uncle Michael and grandfather Morgan ‘Sonny’ Darcy had also occupied the same positions for Moycullen, but by 1990 he was sub-goalkeeper on the Galway minor team that lost to Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final before taking over as first choice from Meelick/Eyrecourt’s Damien Howe with Galway U-21s three years later.

His emulation to first choice ‘keeper had come about as a result of Moycullen’s remarkable run to county U-21 ‘A’ honours in 1992, when they, first, defeated Athenry, who were seeking a six-in-a-row of county titles, in the quarter-finals, and later accounted for Castlegar in the decider.

Darcy’s status grew as a result and the following year he lined out for Galway as they defeated a Brian Corcoran led Cork in the All-Ireland U-21 semi-finals to set up an intriguing clash with Kilkenny in the decider.

“We beat Kilkenny in the final, after a replay,” outlines Darcy. “Thanks be to God I had a chance to redeem myself, though. Kilkenny bagged three goals in nine minute in the drawn game (3-11 to 2-14), but we came back in the replay and beat them (2-9 to 3-3).

“That particular year, Kilkenny had beaten us in the senior final – I was sub goalie that year – and they had won the minor and intermediate championships. If I am not mistaken, they were also dominating camogie at that time. So, it was important someone knocked them off the pedestal,” he grins.

In some ways, the victory made up for the heartache of being part of the Galway squad that lost to the Cats in that September’s All-Ireland senior decider. In all, Darcy spent three years with the senior set-up between ‘93 and ‘96 – missing a year with a broken leg – before bowing out of the inter-county senior scene.

“I walked off Croke Park after Wexford beat us in the All-Ireland semi-final in ’96 and I swore I would never go in goal again,” says Darcy, who conceded majors to Rory McCarthy and substitute Billy Byrne on that ill-fated day.

“And I haven’t. I gave my uncle, Michael Darcy, who was managing Moycullen that year at intermediate, an ultimatum.

“I told him a week before the club championship that I was not going to play in goals. He said forget about last Sunday against Wexford. ‘That game is over.’ However, it wasn’t that the game had gone against me; it was just that I was sick of playing in goals. I wasn’t enjoying the game and, for me, if you are not enjoying the game, you shouldn’t be playing it.“

So I gave him (Michael) two choices, either play me in the forwards or leave me on the bench. I said I would rather play in the forwards, but if I was not good enough to leave me off. I was not going in goals, though. So, I went from the frying pan into the fire, from standing in goals to taking frees.”

The decision to shed his netminder persona, in effect, ended his playing days with Galway seniors, although he has featured with the Galway intermediates at various stages since. However, Darcy – who lined out for Moycullen at wing-forward in his 21st championship year recently – has few regrets. He remains philosophical.

“In hurling or football, there is a line behind everyone else, but the only one behind the goalkeeper is the umpire waving the green flag. Understandably, I would be fierce sympathetic towards goalkeepers and what they go through. It is the only position on the field where you can’t afford to make any mistakes, and if you do, and you get away with it, you are very fortunate. It is a tough ‘aul station.

“While I enjoyed a brief few years in the position, I was always anxious to get out. Even though I sacrificed a longer career with the maroon and white, which is an unfortunate thing, I think I got more enjoyment out of playing out the field. I don’t think it. I know it.

“For me, though, it is a privilege to wear a Galway jersey, but it is an honour to wear a club jersey. I think a lot of players get sidetracked. They feel they are doing their club a service by playing for them, but in actual fact they should be thankful to their club for providing a service for them.”

No doubt, Darcy, who also plays handball, is nothing less than passionate when it comes to the GAA and, in particular, his native Moycullen. “Winning the U-21 in ‘93 was one of the greatest days for Galway hurling, but, for me, the greatest day was the club U-21 win the year before. That Moycullen team was a terrific bunch.”

In many respects, it was hoped that victory would lay the foundation for intermediate championship success in later years and a possible return to the senior ranks for the first time since 1979. The fact that it never did has been “an incredible disappointment” to him.

“In recent years, the most disappointing thing was that Tommie Larkins beat us two years ago in a replay in the quarter-final and they eventually became county champions and later participated in the All-Ireland club final. Last year, Cappataggle did much the same thing to us, winning the county final and going on to play in the All-Ireland.”

Now, though, Darcy has called time on his long career by emigrating with his family to the US. One wonders just how is the self-professed “home bird” going to leave it all behind him.

“It is going to be a big change. The GAA has been a huge part of my life and one of the greatest satisfactions I have is the friendships I have made. That is the GAA. That is what it epitomises. It forms a great bond and relationship between people and it is something I will take with me. I haven’t many medals, but I have those.”

Morgan Darcy is married to fellow Moycullen native, Deirdre O’Sullivan. They have three children, Amy, Morgan and Sophie. In addition to winning an All-Ireland U-21 hurling medal with Galway in 1993, Darcy also has a Railway Cup (1994) and National League (1996) medals. His father, Morgan Sr., is a well-known handballer.

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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