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Galway quick to finish job

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 22-May-2012

 IT was all over after 20 minutes. A devastating opening period of fast, open and attractive football by the Tribesmen burst Roscommon’s bubble at Hyde Park on Sunday; there really was no way back from 2-6 to 0-2 down, regardless of the 50 minutes remaining on the clock.

Galway fell asleep for the middle chunk of the first round Connacht championship match, Roscommon rallied a bit, but once the cool heads of Padraic Joyce and Michael Meehan – both received a rapturous reception, particularly the Caltra man who has been cursed with injuries for the past three years – entered the fray, the Tribesmen sealed the deal in some style.

“No, we’re going to get totally carried away now,” quipped manager Alan Mulholland sarcastically in the wake of the 14 points, 3-15 to 0-10, victory when it was suggested Galway will have to keep their feet firmly on the ground, given the inadequacy of their opponents.

Roscommon were poor, very poor. The usual hostile reception reserved for the maroon and white jersey at Hyde Park never materialised.

The atmosphere among the home support was muted, nervy even. The attitude of the team was the same: The Rossies were a yard or two off the pace of the game from the throw-in and paid the ultimate price for failing miserably to match Galway’s high intensity.

The Roscommon players were subdued, the in-your-face doggedness and tight, aggressive marking wasn’t there; and Galway took full advantage of the spaces. Galway just blitzed the home team, with man-of the match Paul Conroy and Mark Hehir netting early.

“Every team tries to start well. How or what did we do to start well? I don’t know but I just know that this team is sick of being beaten, particularly by a point. That’s been the case in the last two or three years, we’ve lost important games by a point. One way to eradicate that is to be more than a point ahead with a few minutes to go and it’s great that we had that cushion towards the end,” said Mulholland.

Whereas Roscommon were poor in every department, you couldn’t find much to fault with Mulholland’s charges. The full-back line, with championship debutants Kieran McGrath and Keith Kelly in the corners, was the area identified beforehand as possibly being a weak link but it performed solidly, backboned by captain Finian Hanley who led by example, against a high profile attack that included Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine, who admittedly didn’t perform to their standards on the day.

Apart from a few worrying moments when Cathal Cregg made some threatening runs, centre-back Johnny Duane was a rock while Gareth Bradshaw and Gary O’Donnell did all that was asked of them defensively and offered a real threat going forward, too.

The early injury to Michael Finneran was a blow to Roscommon but that can’t take away from Joe Bergin’s towering performance at centre-field, one of the Mountbellew/

Moylough man’s best displays for his county in the championship in a few years.

Gary Sice was menacing at wing-forward, chipping in with 1-3, and Paul Conroy, the St James’ clubman, was in absolutely devastating form. The city man used his physicality to dominate the aerial battled on the edge of the square where he had full-back Niall Carty in all sorts of bother. His goal, after claiming a long-ball from club mate Duane, was pure class – his nose for the net was instinctive, and it’s a shame you couldn’t bottle it.

All in all it was great to see Galway back playing with a bit of flair and passion. Galway badly needed this win, to boost morale among the supporters and to restore some confidence to the players as well.

But Mulholland acknowledged afterwards, it’s only one win and Sligo, managed by former Galway footballer, Kevin Walsh, in the semi-final on Saturday, June 9, at Pearse Stadium, offers a tougher test.

“We know Kevin (Walsh) is waiting in the wings with Sligo. Kevin knows Galway football better than I know Galway football, probably, so it’s going to be hell for leather against them and we’re going to have it all to do to beat Sligo the next day but, look, we’re going to draw confidence from this. We’re not going to say ‘look, we have to pretend that we didn’t play well’, it was fantastic to play well and hopefully we build on that and play better the next day – that’s the challenge,” he said.

For a full match report and photos see pages 30 & 31 of this week’s Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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