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Footballers back on track

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Date Published: {J}

Galway 1-20

Monaghan 1-14

Frank Farragher

at pearse stadium

A LOT of small things done better contributed to one mighty improvement in Galway’s footballing fortunes as they spiritedly recovered from the ignominy of the Castlebar humiliation a week previously to edge their way back into the Division One survival lane.

Galway had a stronger and more balanced team in action at Pearse Stadium on Sunday, but equally significant was a difference in attitude on the pitch – this time around every ball was contested vigorously and by the time the clock struck four bells, a fair measure of pride had been restored.

There was just a little hint of Spring in the air as a light west wind blew in from the sea and thankfully for the home supporters in the modest crowd of just over 2,500, a few tiny sprouts of footballing hope also emerged, after the desolation of McHale Park.

The equilibrium of the game though was severely distorted 16 minutes into the second half when free scoring Monaghan wing forward Paul Finlay was sidelined for a second yellow card and was joined 10 minutes later in sinners’ lane by substitute Gavin Doogan.

Referee Derek Fahy might claim that both censures were technically correct but on a day when neither team struck a malicious blow, there was something inherently unjust about this contest ending up as a 15 against 13 set-up.

The other nightmare of this reasonably entertaining tie was the problem caused by the fisted pass rule. Time after time, play was held up for the referee’s call on the handpass infringement and on many occasions the offending players were adamant that the fist had been used.

This is one rule change that badly needs to be scuppered – and quickly too. Players taught from kids how to handpass the ball properly have been asked overnight to change the habits of a lifetime, while referees from a distance of 40 to 50 yards away, are being asked to make a call as to whether someone’s hand is closed or open. A definitive striking action is the only fair ‘ask’ to make of any referee.

Those misgivings aside, Joe Kernan will have breathed one huge sigh of relief last Sunday evening after probably wondering a week previously what had brought him down to Corrib country. At least he knows, pretty definitively, that Galway weren’t as bad as they looked in Castlebar.

The restoration of Diarmuid Blake to centre back, the utilisation of Gareth Bradshaw in a positive half back role, a strong midfield display from Joe Bergin and Paul Conroy, plus a very lively forward unit were all key factors in the Galway improvement graph.

Sport though is all about balance. It’s about not getting soaked with despair after a bad defeat or heady with elation after a good win, but in terms of morale, confidence, pride and hope, a few modest foundations stones were put in place on Sunday.

Most of the damage up front was inflicted by the full forward line of Michael Meehan, Nicky Joyce and Sean Armstrong – invariably they seemed to have that yard of pace on their markers, especially when the ball was fed to them quickly and accurately. Critically they are all natural finishers.

Joyce was particularly troublesome to the Monaghan defence in the first half, Armstrong did a lot of damage from the second quarter on, while Meehan proved to be a constant fountain of scores over the course of the 70 minutes.

Monaghan dangermen in the corners Tommy Freeman and Ciaran Hanratty never seemed to be on full power due to injury constraints and some tight Galway marking, but further out the Northern threat was more potent with wing men Paul Finlay and Conor McManus very accurate on the strike.

For more, read page 55 of 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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Archive News

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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