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Ferocious training game shows whatÕs facing Tipp

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Date Published: {J}

A CROWD of 8,000 – just absorb that figure for a few seconds – turned up in Nowlan Park last week to see Kilkenny train. Obviously, there was greater local interest than normal due to the fact that Henry Shefflin was going to test his injured knee in a full-bloodied trial match after seemingly making a miracle recovery from the cruciate damage he suffered against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final.

We have all heard reports of how Kilkenny’s practice matches are fought with a savage intensity and without compromise. Denis Walsh, arguably hurling’s finest journalistic analyst, is not a man prone to hyperbole or easily bowled over, but this extract from his latest column in the Sunday Times fairly summarises why the Cats have been in a league of their own for the past five years. It’s his account of the trial match which took place last Wednesday week.

“The belting and flaking was outlandish at times. Nobody was spared. At one stage Jackie Tyrell flattened John Mulhall with a shoulder of such ferocity that Mulhall was blown over the endline. Any player who gathered a ball in a crowded area was balked and hit and mauled as he tried to escape. One player threw off his helmet as he burst out of defence because it had been half torn off him by then.

“At various times, after another episode of crazy physical contact, there were gasps of astonishment from the crowd. Those who were momentarily stunned may not have been regulars. By now, the regulars are probably de-sensitised. In every sense, it was spectacular: the skills execution under such physical stress was truly extraordinary.

“As a hurling match, it couldn’t have happened in any other environment. If two club teams shaped up to each other in this way the match would probably be abandoned in chaos. The key to it is tolerance and discipline. These players are conditioned to expect any tackle and accept it. Only once in a 40-minute match did a player draw back in anger at his opponent with a swinging hurley.”

 

In the same column, Walsh also recalls the reaction of a Cork man who was attending a Kilkenny session for the first time. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I’m sorry I came. After looking at this, we won’t win an All-Ireland in Cork for years.” Against this commentary, those of us who were giving Tipperary a great chance of flooring the champions on Sunday are forced to rethink our assessment, if not prepared to do a complete U-turn.

Remember, with ten minutes to go in last year’s showdown, Kilkenny were scarcely hanging on. Tipperary were doing most of the hurling, forcing the pace and were in front. Only for Benny Dunne’s red card for a desperate pull on Tommy Walsh, PJ Ryan’s epic goalkeeping display and a controversial penalty, I have no doubt that Liam Sheedy’s men would have carried the day.

Sure, Kilkenny have been more vibrant this summer and Shefflin is due to start the final, but the ‘drive for five’ has to be getting into their psyche. Being 70 minutes away from GAA immortality admittedly gives a team powerful motivation, but it also brings fierce pressure as well. Furthermore, will Shefflin’s knee hold out in what is certain to be a raw battle for supremacy? Mentally, he must have found the whole episode draining as well.

For more, read this week’s Conacht 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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