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Galway footballers join hurlers in the dock



Date Published: {J}

THESE are trying times for followers of Galway GAA’s flagship teams. Just a week after the county’s hurlers hobbled out of the Leinster championship against Dublin in Tullamore, the footballers only succeeded in adding to the gloom when coming up well short in opposition to their arch provincial rivals Mayo in McHale Park, Castlebar last Sunday.

The jury had been out on Galway’s reshuffled deck ahead of their showdown with James Horan’s squad, but few supporters imagined that they would be so well beaten in the end after being disappointingly held to a solitary point in the second-half. Sure, that close range Eoin Concannon effort ought to have been a goal, but the bottom line was that the Tribesmen had few answers when the pressure was on.

Being outscored by 1-8 to 0-1 over the final 35 minutes leaves no room for argument. Mayo may have been no great shakes themselves, but they were physically stronger than Galway, secured more primary possession and had the capacity to lift the ante when they needed to. All of their six forwards scored and with the O’Shea brothers doing the business around midfield, the home team were hardly flattered by a six points win.

A big part of Galway’s reasonable finish to the league had been the shifting around of players to new positions, most notably Finian Hanley’s move to midfield and the posting of Paul Conroy to full forward. Understandably, they were kept in those roles for the trip to Castlebar with recognised midfielder Greg Higgins taking over at centre back and natural defender Gareth Bradshaw lining out in the half-forward line.

These were brave calls by the Tomas O Flatharta led team management but, unfortunately, none of these decisions were vindicated in a poor Connacht semi-final. Higgins had trouble keeping tabs on the lively if wayward Alan Dillon on the forty; the midfield action seem to bypass Hanley; while Bradshaw, for all his energy and Conroy, despite an opportunist goal, hardly justified their change of scenery either.

It was also strange that Diarmuid Blake, who is most effective in the number six jersey, was introduced to the attack at a time when the team’s half back line were coming under severe pressure. Like the Galway hurling management, the football mentors have now something to prove, a scenario which was hardly helped by drawing a revitalised Meath away in the next round of the All-Ireland qualifiers.

In the footballers’ defence, being the last team to enter the championship over ten weeks after their last competitive outing hardly did Galway any favours although the great All-Ireland title success of the county’s U-21s must have given the squad some momentum in the lead up to the match. Unfortunately, they didn’t look sharp in McHale Park where the substitutions of Cormac Bane, in particular, and Conroy caught some supporters by surprise.

In retrospect, the writing was on the wall for Galway in the opening-half. Mayo were dominating the possession stakes and despite facing the elements on a typically gloomy West of Ireland afternoon were creating far more scoring chances as evidenced by the 8-2 wide count over those 35 minutes. The wet conditions were also having a big impact on the quality of fare on offer with poor handling, a stack of turnovers on both sides, and the absence of scores only compounding the misery of drenched spectators.

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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