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Galway camogie manager with Midas touch

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

ANYONE who has been following Galway senior camogie in the last number of years will tell you if that there has been one fundamental element the Tribeswomen have been sadly lacking, it has been that little bit of luck.

Well, that is something they hope to rectify this year with the appointment of Noel Finn, a man who has led Galway to three All-Ireland titles between junior and intermediate on the three previous occasions he was involved in the county camogie set-up.

It may be unfair to put Finn’s significant All-Ireland title haul simply down to luck – there are few who work harder for the cause – but, certainly, he is the first to acknowledge that there are times when you have to unashamedly flirt with the fair Lady.

“I suppose I have (been a lucky manager), but you make your own luck too,” insists Finn. “It is great winning the three All-Irelands the three years that I was there, but having said that you can’t do it without the players.

“As I always said, there are loads and loads of great camogie players in Galway and it is no different this year. But, yes, I suppose you do need a bit of luck as well. If you don’t have a bit of luck, well …” Finn’s voice trails off. It can be a fine line.

His assessment, though, that you make your own luck is just as pertinent. In guiding the Galway juniors to National League, Connacht and All-Ireland success in 2003, Finn left little to chance. It was the same in 2004, when he coaxed the same team to annex the All-Ireland intermediate outfit to their tidy collection of silverware.

Although Finn, having also took charge of the seniors in 2004, was unable to deliver with that team in the top tier – they were defeated by Cork in the semi-final – he did return to the intermediate set-up in the Summer of 2009 to, once again, inspire them to yet another All-Ireland crown.

Yet, what prompted him to return to the fold after an absence of five years? “It was kind of funny. When the U-16s won (the All-Ireland) last year, I met Ann Kearney (Camogie Board Secretary) and she asked me would I be interested in going back.

“This was May – the intermediate manager (Gerry Flannery) had stood down – and we were out in June, so we had exactly 28 days before we played our first championship match against Clare. So, we had to get the players together,” recalls the affable bookmaker.

After assembling a management team of trainer Basil Larkin and selectors Helena Huban of Kinvara, U-16 manager Johnny Kane and Killimordaly’s Kevin Kelly, Finn and company began to construct a squad of substance and in the group stages his charges accounted for Clare, a strong Wexford side, and a fancied Derry outfit, before taking Tipperary apart in the semi-final. This set up an All-Ireland final meeting with championship favourites Cork.

While it took Galway time to settle to the task in hand in the decider, they did hold a three-point lead as the contest entered injury-time. However, Cork – as Cork do – then hit the Westerners for a goal to earn a 2-9 to 0-15 draw, and force a replay.

For more, read 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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Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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