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Galway hold their nerve



Date Published: 12-Sep-2012

Galway 2-13

Kilkenny 0-19


WHAT drama, what tension, what magnificent composure from star forward Joe Canning to land a difficult 45 metre free under such extreme pressure and bring the All-Ireland Hurling Final to a replay for the first time in over 50 years just as the three designated minutes of injury time were about to elapse at Croke Park on Sunday.

And what a wonderful learning curve this was for 12 of the Galway players, who had never experienced anything like it before, as they went toe-to-toe with the greatest team of all time amid the bedlam generated by a captivated audience of 81,932 enthralled spectators.


The team who were written off by virtually all the pundits ahead of two epic encounters with Kilkenny in the one hurling summer are still unbeaten, still standing in the championship going into the last Sunday in September after rescuing an unlikely, but fully deserved, last gasp equaliser.

It was deserved because they had been so magnificent in the first half, tearing into the Cats and dealing with the magnitude of the occasion; and because they refused to wilt despite losing their way in attack during an alarming third quarter in which Kilkenny, battling back after being five points down, had shown the class of true champions.


Twice in the closing period, it looked to be gone from the spirited young challengers. Who will forget that amazing diving save from Galway goalkeeper James Skehill to deny what looked a certain goal for Colin Fennelly with 59 minutes on the clock?

Henry Shefflin, the hurling legend who was chasing a record ninth All-Ireland medal on the field of play, had fed Fennelly with a neat little hand pass and Skehill showed stunning agility to dive and block the Kilkenny forward’s venomous, goal-bound shot.

An even more remarkable scene followed at the same goal eight minutes later when Skehill, under immense pressure, tripped Eoin Larkin after the Kilkenny attacker had finally managed to round the committed Kevin Hynes.

Skehill conceded a penalty, but he had prevented a certain goal. It was not just a penalty, but a moment for the ages, a strike that might have been spoken of in 50 or 100 years. And yet another moment of heartbreak for Galway, or so it seemed . . .

Up stepped Shefflin, knowing a goal would bury the Galway challenge and deliver that record ninth Celtic Cross; but he hit it high into the Davin Stand, taking the gamble that a one point deficit would put too much pressure on the inexperienced Tribesmen with just two minutes of normal time to go.

Both sides missed chances in the tension-filled minutes following that score. Canning and the immense Iarla Tannian hit wides while Shefflin, unbelievably, missed two at the other end in the most tense finish to a final in years.

That only made Canning’s achievement all the more remarkable when he calmly slotted his 45 metre free between the posts, while all around him were losing their heads, following the last-gasp foul on substitute Davy Glennon. Had a Galway team ever finished such a tight game with such composure, we wondered.

It felt like the kind of game Galway would normally lose in other years, especially as they were outscored 10-2 by the reigning champions between the 33rd and 55th minutes, but Anthony Cunningham and his mentors have instilled unbelievable mettle and self-belief into this supposedly ‘flaky’ group of players.

Cunningham epitomised that spirit himself when he refused to be intimidated by rival manager Brian Cody during a sideline disagreement in those intense closing minutes of the final.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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