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Gort need to rediscover fire of county final display

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

IT’S hard to get a handle on Saturday’s All-Ireland Club hurling semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Even the bookmakers have flip-flopped on their big match odds – Gort were the original favourites with Paddy Powers, but now Coolderry have taken over that mantle. Frankly, it’s a game which could go either way.

Of course, Ireland’s leading bookmaker is also reflecting the fact that the majority of punters have been rowing in behind the Offaly champions, most likely as a result of evidence from the respective clubs’ challenge matches over the past few weeks. Coolderry’s form has been, reportedly, somewhat more convincing, but I have long since reached the stage of placing little store in these type of encounters.

Still, the extent of Gort’s struggles in their opening challenge match last month in preparation for Saturday’s semi-final was worrying. They were more or less wiped off the field by Galway with neutrals observers concerned about the county champions’ lack of sharpness and fluency, together with fitness concerns over a number of players. Granted, Gort weren’t at full strength, but their lethargic display left their followers concerned.

On the other hand, the fact that Gort were so far off the pace gave both the management and players a wake-up call in plenty of time for their showdown with Coolderry. They have improved for subsequent outings against Dublin, UCD and Clare, while injury concerns over full back Mark McMahon appear to be abating. The fact the game is going ahead in Limerick should also be of some assistance to them, especially in terms of support from the terraces.

Though Gort were defeated county finalists in 2008, not many neutrals anticipated that the South Galway men would end up capturing the senior title for the first time in 28 years last November. Despite three teams coming out of their group, Andy Coen and company had failed to reach the knock-out stages in 2010 and were also edged out by Craughwell in the opening round of last year’s championship.

But they have been on an upward curve ever since, ending up topping their group after subsequently recording convincing victories over Loughrea, Beagh and Kinvara. The tide was turning and though the weather was lousy for the club’s quarter-final and semi-final meetings against Loughrea and St. Thomas’ respectively, you’d nearly always fancy Mattie Murphy’s squad to come out on top in those type of battles where natural toughness is a key asset.

Understandably, however, Gort were still outsiders for their county final collision with Clarinbridge, the reigning All-Ireland Club champions, at Pearse Stadium, but they were very quick out of the blocks that day – five points clear after 13 minutes – and their aggressive hurling rattled the title holders. The ‘Bridge did improve gradually and when substitute Billy Lane’s opportunist goal drew them level in the second-half, quickly followed by the lead score from Sean Forde, you’d have been inclined to think that Gort had shot their bolt.

The momentum was firmly with Clarinbridge now, but the dismissal of Eoin Forde didn’t help them in the final ten minutes and the challengers were not wilting in terms of effort or courage. Man of the Match Aidan Harte drew them level before two late pointed frees from Coen, their experienced captain, and Harte enabled Gort to end a title famine stretching back to 1983. There was no fluke about it either as they carried the fight to Clarinbridge from the off and, on the day, were also the hungrier team.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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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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