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Fatigued Ireland unfairly put at the mercy of All Blacks

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Date Published: {J}

THE Irish summer rugby tour was asking for trouble after a long and arduous season . . . and they got in spades at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth last Saturday. Ireland may have suffered heavier defeats at the hands of New Zealand down through the decades, but they had never conceded 66 points in a test match before.

Declan Kidney was already short a number of his front-liners before embarking on the tour to New Zealand and Australia and with many of the squad feeling the effects of a bruising season, the omens were ominous for the men in green. And the All Blacks were in no mood for dispensing any charity against their weakened and battle weary opponents.

The rugby season seems to be never ending these days. The vast majority of these Irish players have been going at it hammer and tongs for the best part of nine months – and some of them are clearly out on their feet. The demanding schedule is placing an unfair burden on Ronan O’Gara and company, especially as rugby has now become a game of almost frightening physical intensity.

Some of the hits players have to endure in the modern era are border-line assaults. Men with unnaturally bulked up bodies are tearing into tackles with reckless abandon and it is surely only a question of time before there is a fatality arising out of these no-holds barred collisions on the rugby field. Already, you’d fear that many players will have broken up bodies by the time they retire.

Saturday’s annihilation begs the question why the IRFU sanctioned the tour in the first place. Of course, it’s largely about boosting the Union’s financial coffers, but Ireland are not alone as England, Scotland, Wales and France are also on their travels at present. Sadly, those in officialdom are showing scant regard for their players who must be ‘aching’ for a break from professional rugby.

This is the best team Ireland have ever produced and they provided the nation with many unforgettable days, but the squad is in marked decline and we didn’t need Saturday’s rout by the All Blacks to confirm that. Without Paul O’Connell, Jerry Flannery and Stephen Ferris in their pack, the Irish never stood a chance of recording their first ever win over New Zealand, but we didn’t expect that the match would be so hopelessly one-sided.

Of course, Ireland committed rugby’s version of hari kari by having only 13 players on the field for a period of the opening-half. Jamie Heaslip’s unpardonable indiscipline and the sin-binning of O’Gara left them at the mercy of their rampaging foes and there is no better team than the All Blacks to exploit the opposition’s numerical disadvantage as they established a 38-nil lead approaching the break. Frankly, it was embarrassing to watch.

The match ought to have been an occasion to savour for the two Connacht men in the Irish team, but sadly John Muldoon, who was certainly not intimidated by his fearsome adversaries, suffered a serious arm injury which forced his departure and a premature ending to his tour, and Sean Cronin, whose knock on led indirectly to the concession of the All Blacks’ opening try, will probably prefer to forget a disastrous day for Irish rugby. Still, it reflected well on Muldoon and Cronin’s performances this season that they were in New Zealand in the first place and the experience is bound to stand to them.

Though the All Blacks dropped their intensity levels on the resumption and gave a run out to many of their reserves, Ireland must be giving credit for not raising the white flag. Their dressing room at half-time must have been a terrible place to be in as they were in real danger of suffering a catastrophic defeat altogether, but they battled grimly in limiting the damage – that is if you consider losing by 38 points some form of consolation to cling to.

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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Archive News

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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