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Galway footballers have much work to do

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Date Published: {J}

IT’S doubtful if Galway footballers have dug themselves out of a bigger hole in modern times than they defiantly did at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Five points in arrears as a wind-spoiled Connacht championship semi-final drifted into injury time, the Tribesmen somehow managed to live and fight for another day.

Sure, Galway were extremely fortunate – on the run of the game – to force a replay against Sligo at Markievicz Park, but they had gone two months without a competitive fixture while the harsh dismissal of Sean Armstrong early in the second-half compounded the difficulties for the home team who could only manage a solitary point from play in a forgettable opening-half for Joe Kernan’s charges.

Once again, it was the long serving Padraic Joyce who ultimately bailed Galway out of trouble. Apart from his tally of six points, including a cracking individual effort in the 49th minute, it was his pass which paved the way for young Eoin Concannon’s excellently taken goal in injury time. Moments later a trip on Michael Meehan led to wing back Gareth Bradshaw to sending over the equaliser from a close range free.

Not even the team’s most optimistic supporter could have imagined such a dramatic turnaround in the closing minutes and hundreds of them had already departed the ground before the men in maroon pulled the game out of the fire. It doesn’t really matter that this was a largely sluggish and laboured display from Galway as the bottom line in sport is the result.

Granted, they will have to show a major improvement for Saturday evening’s replay, but that’s the challenge now for the team management and players over the coming days. Galway could have had no complaints if they had been beaten on home soil by Sligo for the first time since 1923, but they hung in there and must be given huge credit for the character and resilience they showed in rescuing a desperate situation.

I hate match days which are dictated by a strong wind. There is no magic formula in these situations as teams wrestle with the decision whether to use the elements or not if they win the toss. At half-time last Sunday, Galway were in a bad place, trailing by 1-8 to 0-2, with many of their players peripheral figures as wind-backed Sligo gradually took a hold of the exchanges.

Frankly, for much of the second-half it appeared that Galway didn’t possess the tactical ingenuity or intensity to haul Sligo back, especially with Kevin Walsh deploying extra man Eamon O’Hara in front of his own posts. Some errant shooting wasn’t helping Galway’s cause either and until Padraic Joyce caught fire with three critical points in quick succession in the third quarter, they had all the appearances of men who believed salvaging a result was beyond them.

Joyce’s scoring burst allowed Galway to hang in there but when man of the match, fleet-footed corner forward David Kelly, fired over his third point to put Sligo five up in the 69th minute, it appeared odds on that we were about to have the first Connacht final not featuring Galway or Mayo since Roscommon defeated Sligo in the provincial decider of 1947.

Somehow, Galway possessed enough bottle and heart to save the day. Joyce sent over his third point of play before combining with Joe Bergin to put Concannon in the clear for that priceless goal. Though there was now only less than a minute of injury time remaining, it was virtually inevitable that Galway would manage to engineer the equaliser and that’s what exactly Michael Meehan, introduced as a second-half substitute, did.

For more, see 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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