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FosterÕs exit adds to UtdÕs bad luck with managers

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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

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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

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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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