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Galway go for glory



Date Published: 26-Sep-2012

John McIntyre

Replays tend to be strange beasts, often bearing little or no similarity to what’s gone before. Sometimes you’re even left wondering how the teams were inseparable in their initial collision after one of them wins with loads to spare when squaring up to each other the second time.


Anthony Cunningham had first hand and brutal experience of this exact scenario only last St Patrick’s Day, as Garrycastle – the club football team he managed – did Westmeath proud by holding the mighty Crossmaglen to a draw. The replay, however, proved a disaster as the battle-hardened Armagh men took Dessie Dolan and his team-mates apart. It was a sobering day for Cunningham and he wouldn’t be human if returning to Croke Park on Sunday anxious about a repeat occurring in the All-Ireland Hurling Final replay.

Did Galway, like Garrycastle, spurn a great opportunity in that absorbing stalemate encounter three weeks ago? Sure, Joe Canning displayed admirable nerve to nail the equalising free in injury time but when you lead the All-Ireland champions twice by seven points in the opening half, the greater logic suggests it was the Tribesmen who should be most aggrieved at not finishing the job the first day.

As one of few people who gave Galway a genuine chance of beating Kilkenny in the drawn match, it’s hard to justify the significant shift in public opinion in the interim about the outcome of the replay. Galway are now the popular choice to end a 24-year title famine, especially as initial injury concerns about Kevin Hynes and Iarla Tannian have abated.

The consensus is Kilkenny were out on their feet in early September, a tired team which had thrown everything at Galway after half-time, but still couldn’t wear down the gallant men from the West. Surely their energy levels are starting to run on empty by this stage, while their seasoned players must be sick of going back to the same well day after day, year after year, particularly as the greatest hurling team ever has nothing left to prove. Don’t believe a word of it.

Even Cork goalkeeper, Donal Óg Cusack, has fallen into the trap of thinking that Kilkenny are on their last legs. He recently described them as “tired old men looking for the exit door”. This theory is all a little too obvious and dangerous for my liking. No team has greater pride than Kilkenny, and they will relish the opportunity of proving the prophets of doom wrong.

For all that, the fact is that Galway are unquestionably the coming force in hurling. Young, hungry, highly skillful and tactically aware, they took some of Kilkenny’s best shots in the drawn cliffhanger and are still standing – even if Niall Burke’s breakaway goal camouflages the reality of Kilkenny’s dominance for much of the second-half.

Furthermore, they have scope for some improvement too. David Burke and Cyril Donnellan – understandably lacking match sharpness on September 9 – should certainly be a greater scoring threat on Sunday, while swashbuckling defender Niall Donoghue is unlikely to be so careless when in possession either. It is also reasonable to assume a more evenly-balanced 70 minutes contribution from Canning.

With 12 All-Ireland final novices taking to the field last Sunday fortnight, the overall experience of the occasion should prove beneficial to Galway too. The kicker is, however, that sometimes players have a carefree attitude when not exactly knowing what is ahead of them, but become more tense when they actually realise what hurling’s biggest day is all about.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune All-Ireland Hurling Supplement.

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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