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Galway minors and U-21s should head east



Date Published: {J}

AFTER months of time and effort, the landscape of Galway club hurling faces a fundamental makeover if the proposals of the high-powered review group are rubberstamped at boardroom level. There are many recommendations, but the headline one is the proposed radical shake up of the county senior championship.

It’s ironic, however, that the club title race is about to undergo such a major overhaul given the continued success of Galway champions at All-Ireland level, but the review was never about the annual competitiveness of county champions in their quest for the Tommy Moore Cup. In any event, the dice is heavily loaded in favour of Galway title holders as they head straight into an All-Ireland semi-final and avoid an exacting provincial campaign.

No, the heart of the matter is Galway’s continued inability to hack it at senior championship level against a background where the county is mopping up at under-age level, especially in minor – but these triumphs are, frankly, over-valued due to the way the system gives Galway teams a huge advantage and are actually painting a false (and exaggerated) impression of the talent in the county.

If Galway minors and U-21s had to start off their championship campaigns in early summer when players have to contend with exam pressure and, depending on their progress, might have to peak three or four times to win an All-Ireland, I have no doubt the collection of under-age title silverware over the past 20 years or so would be significantly less. The review group wants no more cosy hurling in Galway, but what about winning cosy All-Ireland minor and U-21 titles?

Against that background, I am astonished that the review group hasn’t throwing its weight behind the Galway minors and U21s joining the county’s seniors in the Leinster championship. At least, in that environment, the regular occurrence of Galway winning soft under-age championships would be over and those that the Tribesmen would win would carry far more value than is the current situation. The proposal for a 16 team U-21 inter-county ‘champions league’ style format is appealing, but probably will get no truck from Croke Park or the provincial councils.

The proposed revamping of the county championship is somewhat revolutionary and a lot of thought has clearly gone into it. I like the system which has been devised but probably not as much as the Kinvara club who stand to benefit immediately by avoiding relegation. The one-year firewall around the intermediate champions is no harm and automatically reduces the pressure on the newly promoted club, as Moycullen should find out next year.

I have no doubt, assuming the proposed revamp gets the green light, that that the county championship will be a far more competitive arena in 2012 and that the number of meaningless matches will be few and far between, but the question still has to be asked will this scenario automatically increase Galway’s prospects of winning the All-Ireland senior title or is just wishful thinking. The reality is that before the county’s collapse against Waterford this summer, those same players had been involved in high profile and big stakes matches against Clare and Cork over the previous three weeks.

Having been at the coalface of the senior hurling team over the past few years, I can honestly say that there is no lack of ambition or commitment among the Galway players, but there are leadership and mindset issues. Of course, the elephant in the room is that Galway currently may just not be good enough, or more precisely, lack the consistency required to make the long awaited championship breakthrough.

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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