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GalwayÕs best in years



Date Published: 11-Jul-2012

Galway 2-21

Kilkenny 2-11


AS sublime a first half performance as any Galway team has ever produced at Croke Park laid the foundations for the shock of the hurling summer as the boys of 2012 really came of age with a sensational and comprehensive victory over Kilkenny to claim an historic first Leinster senior title on Sunday.

Few, even within their own county, gave Anthony Cunningham’s charges a prayer against a side going for their 14th provincial title in 15 years – and few could have dreamed up the blistering performance which saw the Tribesmen lead by 2-12 to 0-4 at the break.

The sheer intensity of the Galway challenge took the breath away. Nobody saw this one coming. The defence which shipped seven goals to Westmeath and Offaly in the two previous rounds outhurled and outfought Kilkenny with the kind of venom which has become a trademark of the All-Ireland champions themselves over the past decade.

It was a tactical masterclass from Anthony Cunningham and his backroom team, who hardly could have dreamed up the kind of savage intensity their young charges conjured up against the greatest side in the history of the game.

From the outset, it was clear that the men in maroon were up for this one. The passionate defending began with the attackers, as the mobility of Portumna duo Joe Canning and Damien Hayes caused all sorts of havoc for the reigning champions.

Hayes spent most of the game rampaging around the middle third of the field; Canning also covered back at times and, with a 1-10 tally, produced the kind of performance he has always threatened to deliver for the county at senior level.

Back in defence, the performances of David Collins, Niall Donoghue, Tony Og Regan (bar a couple of costly second half lapses) and Johnny Coen were simply immense. They rarely gave a Kilkenny man a second on the ball as they swarmed around the champions with the kind of passion and self-belief which is supposedly alien to Galway senior sides.

Coen, in particular, delighted in the freedom Kilkenny gave him in the left corner of the victors’ defence and mopped up ball after ball whenever the Cats managed to reach the danger zone, rare occurrences at times given how well the likes of Andy Smith, Cyril Donnellan, David Burke, Hayes and Canning battled further up the field.

Kilkenny were simply shell-shocked after the 6/1 outsiders enjoyed a perfect start, tearing into them from the throw-in with centre forward Niall Burke delivering two early points from play either side of a superbly taken opening goal from Canning, set up by midfielder Iarla Tannian just four minutes in.

It was just the start Galway wanted, and we braced ourselves for the Kilkenny fightback, but nobody could have envisaged the kind of pressure which the challengers exerted on Kilkenny men in possession all over the field – epitomised by the tireless work-rate of Canning and Hayes.

With less than ten minutes gone, and still no sign of a Kilkenny score, Canning underlined the strength and spirit of the Galway challenge when he tracked back to dispossess Kilkenny corner forward Richie Hogan deep in his own half.

Canning added to Galway’s tally after being fouled by Jackie Tyrrell before Smith ran at the Kilkenny defence and won another free, which was calmly slotted between the posts by his Portumna colleague.

Fifteen minutes gone, the rank outsiders leading 1-4 to no score, and not even a sniff of a Kilkenny attack . . . no wonder the small Galway contingent in the 22,171 crowd were in dreamland, and thousands more must have been wondering why they stayed at home.

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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