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Financial crisis means Galway United must shop at home



Date Published: {J}

Keith Kelly

GALWAY United are scrambling to put a squad together for the 2011 Premier Division campaign – less than seven weeks away – with only one player having put pen to paper at the time of going to press.

United have lured Enda Curran from Mervue United, and while talks have been held with a number of other players, Curran is the only one to have officially signed ahead of the start of pre-season training this weekend as United begin preparations for a fifth consecutive season in the top flight.

The majority of United’s more experienced players from last season have left the club, prompting concerns amongst supporters that the squad faces into yet another season-long battle against relegation, which has been the case for the last three campaigns.

Six of the side that started in the relegation play-off victory against Bray Wanderers in November have left the Terryland Park-based club, and there are real fears that filleting the squad of its more experienced players, and trying to replace them on a playing budget of less than €2,000 a week, means United are facing into a season which could see them record their worst finish in the top flight since the 1995/96 season, when they finished bottom of the table, nine points adrift of Drogheda United.

The defence has taken the biggest hammering with Barry Ryan, Seamus Conneely, Jamie McKenzie and Rhys Meynell having all left the club. Goalkeeper Ryan, who was United’s captain last season, has ended a two-season stint with the club by moving to Limerick FC, with the other three having all moved to clubs outside of Ireland.

Conneely has signed an 18-month contract with Sheffield United, who are just one place above the relegation zone in the English Championship; Meynell has returned to Stalybridge Celtic – where he played for the 2008/09 season – in the Conference North, the sixth tier of English football; while McKenzie has returned to Cyprus, where he also played during the 08/09 season.

The other two from the starting XI against Bray that have left United are midfielder Stephen O’Donnell and striker Karl Sheppard, who have both signed one-year deals with newly crowned League champions Shamrock Rovers.

Philip Reilly has also left the club, having emigrated to Australia; Ciaran Foley has undergone surgery on an ankle injury and has been ruled out of action for the next couple of months; while at least one other player has said he won’t sign for the “insult” offer of €75 a week which was put to him last week.

There could be one saving grace for United this season if rumours about how the expansion of the Premier Division in 2012 will come into effect prove to be accurate, with stories circulating that there will not be an automatic relegation from the Premier Division at the end of the 2011 season.


The suggestion is that instead, the top two teams in the First Division will be promoted at the end of the season, with the team that finishes third facing a play-off against the bottom-placed Premier Division club for the right to play in the expanded 12-team Premier Division in 2012.

While that scenario offers a crumb of comfort if it proves correct, when put alongside a budget what will be the lowest in the Premier Division, it is hardly the kind of bargaining power that will give United manager Sean Connor a strong hand when he tries to build his squad.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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.

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