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From the smallest acorns grow the strongest trees



Date Published: {J}

Given the number of underage internationals Salthill Devon Ladies produce, and the extensive amount of resources they invest in coaching, it was only a matter of time before the club contested a national WFAI Senior Cup Final.

Well, the day has duly arrived, with the Galway City outfit due to face a fancied Dublin side Peamount United in Tolka Park this Sunday (3pm). It is truly a massive occasion for the club, given this will be the first final Salthill Devon will contest nationally at senior level.

That said, Kieran O’Mahony’s charges will travel to the nation’s capital confident that they can cause an upset. Boasting a wealth of talent, the side is littered with players who have worn the Republic of Ireland jersey with distinction at one level or another.

These include Meabh De Burca (U-19 and Senior), Julie Ann Russell (U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-19), Emer Flatley (U-15 and U-16), Becky Walsh (U-15, U-16 and U-19) cousins Aine and Lucy Hannon (both U-16), Kara Mullins (U-19) and the multi-talented Dora Gorman (U-15, U-16 and U-17).

“I suppose 10 of the squad have worn a green jersey of some description,” says manager O’Mahony, who is, coincidentally, a founding member of Salthill Devon FC.

“Ruth Fahy was with the Irish Universities, while

the rest of them would have all played underage. Also, Jenny Critchley and Becky Walsh have both captained the Ireland U-19s while Dora Gorman captained the U-17s this year. So, it is great to have those involved.”

Even more pleasing is that the majority of Salthill’s panel is made up of home-grown talent, having been nursed up through the grades by O’Mahony and other coaches. “I would have started with the girls in 2000 or 2001, when my own daughter (Jenny) got involved,” says O’Mahony, who is currently aided in the management set-up by Coach Alan Kenny.

“There has been quite a number of those players who have come up all the way through, such as Julie Ann Russell, Dora Gorman, Emer Flatley, Caroline Carter, the two Hannons – Lucy and Aine – and Ruth Fahy. I remember John Flannery and I started off coaching in Dangan on the all-weather pitch because Drom wasn’t even open at the time. Not alone that, we didn’t even have anyone to play.”

However, from those small acorns sown almost a decade ago, a strong sapling began to grow. In the ensuing years, the club began to nurture an abundance of talent, which not only fed into the Republic of Ireland underage set-up, but also backboned the Galway & District Ladies League’s successful bid for the same honour in 2007.

The problem for the Galway League, though, was that Salthill Devon was already racing up through the grades at adult level. Consequently, when the city outfit won the WFAI Intermediate Cup in 2008 –turning Senior as a result – the loss of those Salthill players significantly weakened the representative side. So much so, the Galway League did not participate in the Senior Cup for this season.

In the meantime, Salthill Devon has evolved even further, helped by a number signings from the now defunct Galway League team. “When Galway Ladies finished up, a number of the girls signed with us, such as Deirdre O’Connell, Annette Clarke and Tina Hughes. We also got two new signings this year, in Rebecca McPhilbin (Galway ladies Gaelic footballer) and Jenny Critchley, who is some player.”

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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