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GalwayÕs poor performance is real head scratcher

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Date Published: {J}

SO many questions: so few damn answers. I can now finally empathise with the frustrations of previous Galway hurling team managers such as Jarlath Cloonan, Mattie Murphy, Noel Lane, Conor Hayes and Ger Loughnane after a dreadful performance in the All-Ireland quarter-final at Thurles last Sunday. It was a shambles – short and simple.

As the team manager, I have no intention of running away from my own responsibility for such a limp exit from the championship and I appreciate, more than anyone, my own head is on the chopping block this week. I have no issue with that at all as we operate in a results driven business. Frankly, I didn’t see such a shocking display coming.

There was no question whatsoever of under-estimating Waterford after their humiliation at the hands of Tipperary in the Munster final down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh two weeks previously. We know there would be a backlash from them and I genuinely thought that we were braced for it. Furthermore, we were coming into the fixture on the front foot after two heartening victories over Clare and Cork.

Apart from the injured Alan Kerins, we had the same team out on the field in Semple Stadium as we had in Pearse Stadium and the Gaelic Grounds, but they weren’t the same players which had performed with such vigour, cohesiveness and energy as against Clare and Cork. They looked sluggish and, apart from a brief period in the opening-half, never played with conviction or purpose.

To be honest, I would imagine the players are disgusted with themselves this week. They are way better than Sunday’s tame effort, but just didn’t measure up on the day. Galway had serious momentum heading into the Waterford game and confidence had been restored only to see them produce a really poor effort which was characterised by basic errors, poor decision-making and a lack of fire.

In the context of their previous two championship outings, it’s hard to rationalise where it came from. We had won back the hearts and minds of the Galway supporters who had travelled in such great numbers to Thurles only to throw it all away in a forgettable 70 minutes. I really felt for the fans – they deserved and expected better than this.

Naturally, we are all being panned by the critics and, to be honest, we have left ourselves wide open for it. The camp had worked so hard to get things back on the road after the disappointing defeat to Dublin in the Leinster Championship in Tullamore and most observers were starting to consider us as a genuine threat to Tipperary and Kilkenny.

More immediately, few gave Waterford any real chance of stopping Galway last Sunday, but, unfortunately, every game is different.

Did the pressure get to Galway again? Can they not cope with high expectations? Do they have a suspect temperament? Why are they so frustratingly inconsistent? These are all questions which have been asked so regularly over the past 20 years and still, it seems, we are no nearer any solutions. But, perhaps, the biggest elephant room in the room is that Galway are regularly not cutting it in the really high stakes matches and that successive teams are overhyped due to the county’s impressive record at under-age evel and in the All-Ireland Club series.

In nearly 130 years of championship hurling, Galway have won a measly four All-Ireland senior titles, but yet nearly every spring, the county are generally regarded as third or fourth favourites to bring the McCarthy Cup back west. Where is this inflated rating coming from? The harsh reality is that Galway have only contested two All-Ireland semi-finals in the past decade and that is the grim fact of the situation.

Naturally, a Kevin Moran inspired Waterford deserve a lot of credit for the manner in which they have responded to their Munster final mauling. True, Galway made it all too easy for them, but Davy Fitzgerald and his team were determined to salvage their reputations with Shane Walsh, the recalled Seamus Prendergast and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh also playing big roles in one of the county’s greatest ever victories.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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