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Galway ladies on the right road with new manager

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 10-Jan-2013

GALWAY senior ladies football may have been on a managerial merry-go-round in recent years, but 2012 County Galway Sports Star Sinead Burke is optimistic that the season ahead can be a good one for the Tribeswomen.

For her part, Burke, who made her senior debut under Pat Costello in 2007, is about to begin the annual voyage under her sixth Galway manager following the appointment of former Cortoon Shamrocks and Caltra boss Barry Downey for 2013.

Six managers in seven years is an incredible statistic and Burke concedes – Gay O’Brien’s three-year tenure in this time aside – the lack of consistency in this area has had a damaging effect on the county’s drive for honours over the last decade.

“Aside from Gay, we haven’t nailed down one manager for any real length of time,” says Burke, who turns 23 next week. “So, that area has been a bit inconsistent. Almost every year, you are going into a new setting, getting to know people and that takes time, especially for a manager.”

Indeed, more often than not, the manager is not appointed or ratified until into the New Year, meaning the players usually miss out on a structured Winter programme. Consequently, it is up to the players themselves to keep themselves in shape until they are recalled. Burkes notes that by this time, Cork, who have won seven of the last eight All-Ireland titles, have already stolen a march.

In any event, Burke, who studied Arts at NUI Galway and is about to continue her studies at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, has a positive outlook for the year ahead and she believes the Tribeswomen can built on 2012 – a year that began in turbulent fashion but finished with an incredible Connacht final victory over Mayo, an All-Ireland quarter-final win over Clare and a first semi-final appearance in seven years.

Although Galway began the 2012 National League with a heavy defeat to Mayo – and ended the group stage with a loss to Fermanagh – victories over Waterford, Clare, Kerry, Cavan and Tipperary secured them a place in the National League semi-final, where they, once again, overcame Clare on a scoreline of 3-6 to 1-10.

In the decider, they faced old rivals and near neighbours Mayo. The outing was not a success as the Tribeswomen suffered a damning 4-17 to 2-7 defeat. It was the clearest indication yet that Galway was losing significant ground on the leading counties.

The fall-out from that defeat was well-publicised. A number of players, included Burke, walked away from the panel leaving manager Con Moynihan’s position untenable. He subsequently stood down and Caltra’s Gabriel Naughton was appointed as caretaker manager for the remainder of the year.

“That [League final defeat to Mayo] knocked a lot of confidence. Things went downhill after that,” recalls Burke. “I suppose, there was a few players who didn’t join the team at the start of the year – for various reasons – but I felt we lacked a bit of experience in the team. I suppose we also didn’t get the best out of the team. There was more in us.

“I just got to the stage then where I wasn’t really enjoying it and I said if I ever reached that day, it just wasn’t worth going. It is not worth turning up to training if you are not going to have a good session. I decided I wasn’t happy with the way things were going, so I took a quick exit. There were four or five of us that weren’t happy,” says the Oughterard native, who plays her club football with Killanin.

However, with the appointment of Naughton, who had a proven track record with Caltra Cuans, the cogs in Galway ladies football began to turn again. As a result, Burke says she and others needed little convincing to return to the fold while experienced players, who had not been part of the process earlier in the year, made a welcome comeback. She notes that not only added extra impetus and motivation but also nurtured a change in attitude.

In addition, Burke says that after the managerial upheaval, the ladies also felt they had something to prove. “There were a lot of harsh comments like ‘these Galway girls are never happy and are hard to please’. So, to a certain extent, we had a point to prove. That we were not playing football just for the sake of doing it. We wanted to win something by the end of the year and, in that respect, it was great to win a Connacht final.”

That provincial showdown turned out to be one of the most incredible games in the history of ladies football. Heading into the final quarter, Galway were ten points down against a rampant Mayo side at McHale Park but three late goals from Geraldine Conneally, Eilis Gannon and substitute Gillian O’Connor turned the game on its head as Galway won out on a scoreline of 4-10 to 1-17.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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