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Flying winger is pledging his future to Connacht

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

CONNACHT winger Tiernan O’Halloran believes Connacht can put behind the subdued performance of their Heineken Cup home defeat to Toulouse last month and, possibly, record their first ever competition victory over visiting Gloucester at the Sportsground on Saturday.

In many respects, the residue of that loss from Connacht’s historic Heineken Cup clash at the Sportsground has been lingering since then, reflected in their subsequent displays in the RaboDirect Pro 12 league, in which Connacht have since lost to the Ospreys and Treviso.

O’Halloran admits that – given the heady build-up to the Toulouse game – the performance and result were “massively disappointing”. Indeed, the Clifden native says it was the slow start Connacht made – something they hope to rectify this weekend – that ultimately cost them, although he concedes – albeit reluctantly – that the sense of history surrounding the occasion could have as easily jangled some players’ nerves.

“I suppose, there was such a build-up to the game for so long, ever since the summer when the draw came out and everyone was talking about Toulouse coming to Galway,” says the 20-year-old. “You could see it around the city, the excitement.

“So, maybe it was at the back of our minds, but we wouldn’t like to say that it was because we felt it wasn’t a factor. It could have come into our minds at the start [of the game]; maybe we were a bit in awe of the occasion. Like the atmosphere was unbelievable and stuff. Toulouse face that every week, where for us having 9,000 people out there was something new.”

Indeed, at long last, the West seem to be buying into – and seeing the potential of – Connacht rugby, with season ticket sales going from just under 1,000 last year to 3,000 this year. “That has helped a lot and with the new stand there, the Clan Terrace, the sound really echoes out onto the pitch.

“It really does give the players a boost when there is a big crowd there. The only thing now is, we have to start performing on the pitch or those attendances will start dropping again,” says the 20-year-old winger.

This weekend’s Heineken Cup tie against Gloucester certainly provides that opportunity, given that the English Premiership side have also struggled this season and are plummeting towards the bottom end of the table. Indeed, they have won only one of their last seven games in all competitions.

“I suppose, Gloucester would be the weakest of the three [other group rivals], so we would definitely be targeting them. Their form of late hasn’t been the best but, then again, the way our form is we also have to target every game at the moment because we need a win. Once we get that one win, we can build it from there – and more wins will start coming. It is just – at the moment – the confidence levels are a bit low so we need to get a few tries and a victory.”

For their part, Gloucester have the ignominy of having one of the highest counts of missed tackles in the Premiership and O’Halloran agrees that this, certainly, is an area Connacht can target. “We have done our analysis this morning already and we have been looking at them. Defensively, they wouldn’t be as strong as Toulouse and Harlequins and their form in the English Premiership isn’t the best either. They lost to Newcastle there at the weekend, and Newcastle are bottom.

For more, read this week’s Galway CityTribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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