Date Published: 10-Sep-2009
MATTIE Murphy is rarely wide of the mark when assessing the quality of his Galway minor hurling teams and the Gort man’s high opinion of this year’s young Tribesmen squad was certainly vindicated in spectacular fashion at Croke Park on Sunday.
This thumping triumph over the title holders Kilkenny not alone atoned for last year’s desperately unlucky loss to the same opposition, but also emphasised that Galway have retained the capacity to produce above average teams at U-18 level.
It was also a personal landmark for Murphy himself. Since 1992 he has been in charge of Galway minors for a total of nine years and every season he has, at least, guided them to the All-Ireland final – and Sunday’s latest success is, incredibly, the fifth time he has masterminded the capturing of the Irish Press Cup.
Along with mentors Michael Fogarty and Michael Haverty, Murphy has again moulded together an exciting young squad and though Galway had a ropey third quarter in this high quality decider, they showed sufficient resolve and big day temperament in finishing strongly to capture the county’s eighth minor title.
The action began with a flurry of exceptional scores. After only nine minutes, Kilkenny led by 1-5 to 1-4. Neither team could miss the target with Richie Cummins’ opportunist opening goal being quickly matched by a well taken effort from Kilkenny corner forward, Martin Gaffney.
The first wide didn’t arrive until the 12th minute when Niall Burke was off-target – the promising Oranmore teenager ending up with seven misses from both play and frees – and while both teams couldn’t possibly keep up that astounding level of accuracy, it was still surprising that Kilkenny didn’t score again before half-time.
Donie Fox, Shane Moloney, Cummins and Jason Grealish were the Galway early point scorers but, if anything, Kilkenny were looking the more dangerous up front. Their forward line was darting on to a lot of breaking ball and they were causing problems when running at the Galway backs.
To the Galway mangement’s credit, they didn’t hang about in taking decisive action. They switched corner backs, Johnny Coen and Conor Burke; Mark Horan replaced Matthew Keating at number five; while the highly industrious Davy Glennon increasingly adopted a sweeper-type role around the half-back line.
With the move of Fox to midfield also benefitting Galway, they proceeded to land a priceless goal and five unanswered points in the second quarter. Four white flags from Burke (two frees, a 65, and a quality effort from play) together with a fine effort from Grealish left them leading by 1-9 to 1-5 on the brink of the interval.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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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