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FosterÕs exit adds to UtdÕs bad luck with managers

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

GALWAY United aren’t having much luck with their team managers lately. For the second time in less than a year, the club has been left in the lurch after Ian Foster agreed terms to take over at Dundalk last Friday. Though he had been publically linked with the position at Oriel Park, few United fans thought the Englishman was about to abandon his sideline role at Terryland Park.

Though United will once again be entitled to cry ‘foul’ over the circumstances of Foster’s surprise departure, the new boss at Dundalk has obviously no qualms of conscience about setting up a new managerial base in Co. Louth. He claims that there had been a “fundamental breach” of his contract by United over payments that he was due. In other words, Foster was owed money.

Dundalk officials had approached the United Board for permission to hold talks with Foster as he had another year to run on his contract with the Tribesmen, but the request was turned down. Foster himself, it is understood, also made contact with United officials in order to pursue Dundalk’s interest so, at least, the club weren’t completely in the dark about the matter.

Of course, that is no consolation to Galway United this week as they begin what is likely to be a protracted search for a new manager. Though only Derry City’s boardroom demotion to the First Division over illegal contracts with their players saved United from the relegation play-offs, the perception was that Foster had done reasonably well in Galway given the restricted budget and limited resources at his disposal.

He had only taken over the role at the start of the season when Jeff Kenna controversially broke a verbal agreement with United in signing up with St. Patrick’s Athletic. The former Republic of Ireland defender had wanted Foster, his then assistant, to join him in Inchicore, but he opted to stay at Terryland Park. United understandably felt scorned and, not surprisingly, reserved their best displays for their league matches against St. Pat’s as underlined by a clean sweep of victories in the clubs’ Premier Division encounters

Foster feels he was free to leave United because of contractual difficulties, but his decision only adds to the club’s managerial woes. Since May 2005, they have struggled for continuity as Stephen Lally, Alan Gough/Jim Noone who were appointed in a caretaker role during the summer of 2006, Tony Cousins, Billy Clery (caretaker), Kenna and Foster have all been in the United dug out. The big question now who will be there next?

With so much local apathy towards United over the past couple of seasons in particular which has seen a significant drop off in attendances and increasing financial difficulties, the last thing the club needed now was to be left managerless with the new season less than three months away. From a public image point of view alone, it doesn’t look good and United will do well to attract an individual of substance to take over from Foster. It’s likely that they will end up having to shop local

Against this background, it almost beggars belief that Galway city will have three clubs in League of Ireland football next season as Salthill Devon, assuming their geographically isolated grounds at Drom meets with FAI criteria, look set to join Mervue United in the First Division. It’s financial madness and, arguably, clubs’ egos are compromising rational decision making.

Take Mervue, for instance. It cost what is widely believed to be a six figure sum to fund their debut First Division campaign and while it was a great achievement to reach this level of football, the bottom line is that despite their best efforts, only hopeless Kildare County finished below them in the league and there was hardly anyone at their matches. Salthill face a similar fate . . . out of their depth and putting an inordinate strain on their financial resources.

Now don’t get me wrong . . . both Salthill Devon and Mervue are superbly run clubs where the voluntary effort is second to none. They have wonderful juvenile academies and their facilities are top class, but playing in the League of Ireland is a costly business and in the current economic recession is tantamount to committing financial suicide. What’s the point of it anyway, unless Mervue and Salthill are going to be competitive. Otherwise, they are just making up numbers and paying a hefty price to do so. Frankly, Galway is only big enough for one League of Ireland club.

To read more of this column see page 53 of this week’s Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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GalwayÕs U-13 and U-16 sides both through to national finals

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 14-May-2013

Mike Rafferty

It proved to be a very successful weekend for Galway Schoolboy soccer as two representative sides qualified for national finals at the end of the month.

It was drama all the way in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday afternoon as the U-13 side drew 1-1 with the Midlands League, but came through the dreaded penalty shootout to prevail by 5-4.


Meanwhile the U-16 side had to travel to Cork, where they emerged 2-1 winners following a very impressive performance. For the second game in succession, it was the goals of the Connolly brothers that proved crucial to both team’s success.

Andrew lines out with the U-16 side and he notched both their scores in terrific away win, while younger brother Aaron was on target for the U-13 side and also converted the winning spot kick.

Mervue United captured a third consecutive Connacht Youth Cup with an impressive 4-1 win over Castlebar Celtic in Milebush on Saturday.


Galway League 1

Midlands League 1

(AET-Galway won 5-4 on pens)

A low scoring contest might indicate few chances, but one has to credit two outstanding defences whose splendid covering and marshalling of the front men was a joy to watch.

Galway’s Oisin McDonagh and Adam Rooney never put a foot wrong in central defence, while full-backs Byron Lydon and Matthew Tierney were equally efficient in defence, and getting forward with regular forays.

Further afield, they matched the visitors in terms of intensity and creativity and in the second half in particular should have pulled away from a Midlands side that won the U-12 national title last year.

The visitors certainly offered the greater attacking threat in the opening half, but found home custodian Mark Greaney in top form. Galway’s best chance fell to Joshua Quinlivan, but he pulled an effort wide of the target.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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