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Galway need to toughen up!



Date Published: 13-Jun-2012

Sligo 2-14

Galway 0-15


ANY notions that Galway footballers were on a short cut back to former glories were well and truly dissipated at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening when Sligo turned on an intensity tap that powered them to a deserved and, in the end, quite a comprehensive Connacht semi-final victory.

It is not the end of the world for Galway football, and the rebuilding process currently in place must continue, but it was a temporary setback of quite dramatic proportions as Sligo played out a second half with a ferocity and tempo that Alan Mulholland’s side just couldn’t match.

The pre-match odds, which apparently at one point on Saturday had Sligo at 13/2, verged on the insane given the recent championship history of the sides, and as Galway lick their wounds this week they will be mindful of the fact that hunger is the great sauce of championship football.

At different stages of the first half when Galway led by 0-5 to 0-1 and 0-9 to 0-4, they seemed to be on the very cusp of delivering that knock-out blow, but alas it never arrived, and when Sligo regrouped at half-time just four points in arrears, the game was about to undergo one massive sea change.

There are a lot mind games in football and somewhere during that 15 minute half-time break, Galway slipped into a comfort zone where they believed that their main task of the day was done – by contrast, across the dressingroom tunnel, Sligo manager Kevin Walsh ignited rockets of energy in his side and the rest is history.

It was though hard to see at half-time where the Sligo recovery might come from. True, they had defended tenaciously but had conceded a high ratio of frees that Galway took advantage of fully but Kevin Walsh’s side had struggled to get a 40% break from the midfield exchanges.

From limited possession pickings, there were danger signs showing in the Galway defence. David Kelly was very lively in the corner of the Sligo attack, Pat Hughes and Alan Costello were also showing well for the ball, while full forward Adrian Marren was giving Finian Hanley a lot of problems.

Still with Joe Bergin turning in a very strong first half performance in midfield, it did seem improbable that Sligo would win enough primary possession from this sector in the second half to give their lively forward line a consistent supply of ball. What transpired though rocked Galway’s championship ambitions to the core.

Sligo took control of the midfield exchanges with the physical power of young Shane McManus ably complemented by a whole series of second phase possession wins by Charlie Harrison, Paul McGovern, Brendan Egan, Pat Hughes and Alan Costello. Inexorably the bulk of the second period ended up being played in the Galway half of the field.

Adrian Marren’s torment of Finian Hanley and the Galway defence continued into the third quarter, and midway through the half when the sides were level at 0-10 apiece, the whole balance of this game shifted. Sligo were winning breaks everywhere, they were steaming forward in numbers, and Galway just couldn’t match their fervour in the majority of the hand-to-hand combats.

Galway needed to tackle two main problem areas early in the second half – midfield, and the massive influence of Adrian Marren in the heart of the Sligo attack, but the issues largely went unaddressed.

Michael Meehan and Padraic Joyce were introduced to attack, but Galway’s acute difficulties were not in that sector. Something dramatic had to be tried in a bid to curb Sligo’s possession monopoly.

Maybe moves like the introduction of Fionntán Ó Curraoin; a decision to leave Thomas Flynn in a midfield position rather than substituting him with a forward; the pulling back of Gary Sice as a sweeper in front of his own ‘45’, could all have helped to disrupt the Sligo rhythm, while another marker was needed far earlier to try and put Marren off his game.

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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