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Galway’s new physical edge floors Rebels



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

GALWAY hurling badly needed this. After a winter of discontent where controversies in the club scene on the pitch and in the High Court and politicking on the Hurling Board took centre stage, finally the performance of the men in maroon and white steals the headlines for all the right reasons.


An awesome display of stylish and aggressive hurling at Semple Stadium on Saturday evening deservedly secured Galway’s ninth National Hurling League title and the county’s first since 2004.

Incredibly this is Galway’s first ever win over Cork in a national final, which made it sweet, but more importantly this eight points victory – which didn’t flatter them – has laid to rest the ghosts of recent second-half collapses at the historic ‘Tom Semple’s Field’.

Much like the weather on Saturday – hot one minute when the sun was shining but bitterly cold the next when the chilling winds blew – the county’s hurling supporters arrived in Thurles not really knowing what Galway team would show up.

Would we get the side who managed to score just a solitary second-half point against Tipperary in the League defeat earlier in March and a repeat of the performance against Waterford in the All-Ireland quarter-final last summer when a six points lead was surrendered after the interval at the same venue; or the Galway outfit that showed bottle and passion in their rousing comeback victory over Kilkenny at Nowlan Park in March.

As it turned out, we got neither really – although there was spade loads of bottle and passion this was a whole new Galway beast who produced the complete, all round team performance of championship intensity at the beginning of May.

Galway hurled with style, picking-off some incredible scores but their physicality was the most pleasing – and surprising – aspect. And aggression. Oh boy, Galway’s raw aggression was a joy to watch.

Joe Canning’s cameo moment about half an hour into the match – in which he clattered corner back Brian Murphy with an almighty thunderous shoulder to earn possession and land a point – perfectly summed up how Galway was using its strength to bully Cork in the tackle.

When was the last time you’ve heard the manager of an opposing major hurling county talk about a Galway team being stronger and more physical in the tackle?

But Cork’s Denis Walsh was spot-on

– Galway, renowned for their ‘Fancy Dan’ stylish stickwork, were punishing in the tackle, revealing a new steely underbelly that, if sustained, should see Galway challenging for major honours come September.

They laid their bodies on the line, too, best summed up by Ollie Canning, who literally threw himself in front of a Cathal Naughton bullet that was destined to burn a hole in Colm Callanan’s net midway through the second half. It had to sting – and surely left a massive bruise – but it was the kind of hurt this Galway team were willing to take for the cause.

The work rate was phenomenal as well – clearly Portumna’s ‘work like dogs’ mantra now permeates the county team. Time and again Galway hassled, hooked and blocked the Cork players with the Tribesmen’s full-forward line setting the example, scrapping for everything and letting nobody out of defence easily, which filtered its way back right through the team.

Each Galway man stood up and was counted. Galway simply suffocated the Rebels, who couldn’t cope with the intensity or physicality of the match.

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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