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Galway teen makes Man City debut



Date Published: {J}

A FORMER underage star with Mervue United who is now rated as one of the country’s hottest young footballing prospects came to global attention at the weekend when he made his senior debut for Manchester City in their televised FA Cup clash with Scunthorpe.

Greg Cunningham, who turns 19 at the end of the month, has long been tipped as a star of the future, and he took the next step in what is sure to be a very promising career when he came on at half-time to replace the injured Nigel de Jong at left-back in City’s 4-2 win.

Cunningham was promoted to the first team squad in December after an impressive season with the club’s reserves, and he caught the eye in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool’s reserves in Anfield last Thursday. With manager Roberto Mancini having one eye on tomorrow’s Carling Cup semi-final second-leg clash with bitter rivals Manchester United, he made eight changes to his side for Sunday’s game; and once de Jong flagged that he was struggling, Cunningham got the nod.

Cunningham wasn’t the only young player given his wings on the day by Mancini, as another 18 year old, Abdisalam Ibrahim, was also given his debut in the game, and Boyata (19) made up a trio of teens in the City side.

The former Mervue United player – who started life as a striker, only to be converted into a defender by City – was unlucky to pick up a harsh booking within three minutes of his introduction, but he grew in confidence as the half wore on; so much so that Sylvinho was given greater freedom to attack down the left as Cunningham gave ample defensive cover.

“I am absolutely delighted for him. As both the Mayor of Galway City, and someone so heavily involved with Mervue United, I have to say it was one of the proudest days of my life when he came on on Sunday,” said Declan McDonnell, one of the founding members of Mervue United FC.

“I am not a bit surprised at how well Greg has done as we always knew he was a bit special. He is a fabulous young fella, he has a great attitude, and he is an example to young people everywhere. It says a lot about him that he is at one of the richest club’s in the world, where they can buy any player, and here is a young fella from Galway coming through their academy to play in the FA Cup,” said McDonnell.

Cunningham started out his footballing life with Cregmore before moving to Mervue United at U-13 level, and was part of the SFAI Goodson Cup winning team the following year in 2006, scoring the only goal in the final against Crumlin Utd.

That squad also captured a record five cups that season under the management of Jarlath Connolly, Dave Mulally and Jimmy Howley, and McDonnell paid tribute to Mervue’s various coaches yesterday for their role in Cunningham’s development.

“He is doing great there and training with the likes of Lescott, Bellamy, Shay Given and Robinho will stand to him, but a lot of credit too should go to the likes of Dave Mulally, Justin Neary and Bart Barrett. When he is at home in the summer he usually goes out training with Bart just to keep his fitness levels up, and that shows his dedication, his determination and his attitude.

“One other thing he insisted on when joining City was that he would be able to continue his education – at the time, Newcastle United and Celtic were also very interested in him, but he liked the underage set-up at City and the fact he could continue his education there,” McDonnell said.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him, he is a credit to himself and to his parents Billy and Linda, and his brothers Dan, who is his twin, and Stephen, who both play with Mervue,” McDonnell said.

Mancini may not be long in the manager’s role, having replaced Mark Hughes, but he clearly sees the potential of Cunningham and has handed him a new two year contract at the club – his original contract was to expire in the Summer.

l Another city starlet, Daryl Horgan os St Enda’s College, has been named in the FAI Schools U-18 squad that will play its Australian counterparts in a friendly in Dublin on Thursday. He is one of two Galway players in the 20-man squad, the other being Billy Lane of Presentaiton College Athenry.

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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