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Group draw gives Portumna food for thought



Date Published: {J}

REIGNING All-Ireland Club champions Portumna have been drawn in a group in what some have termed as the proverbial ‘Group of Death’ for the upcoming Galway senior hurling championship.

Along with Portumna, Group D also comprises of old foes Clarinbridge, 2007 county finalists Kinvara and giant-killers Beagh, in addition to a plucky Killimordaly outfit, who will have it all to do if they are to avoid a relegation battle this coming year.

Speaking on the draw, Portumna manager Johnny Kelly admitted it was “a tough” one for his charges. “We will have to be at our best (for those group games). Kinvara, Beagh, Clarinbridge and Killimordaly, they are good teams all round. So, yeah, we can take nothing for granted.”

In recent years, Portumna – who face Dunloy in the All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park on Sunday, February 14 – have tended to wind down after their early spring endeavours. However, Kelly acknowledged they may have to revise their strategy this coming year.

“We probably will, and that is no disrespect to the teams we met in the group stages in previous years. At the moment, all our focus is on February 14 and Dunloy. I suppose, though, it will be at the back of the mind. They are all quality teams. Just thinking about it this morning (Wednesday), I reckon we will have to go back a bit earlier alright.”

Certainly, there is a nice mix to each of the groups and with only three of the five teams advancing to the knockout stages this year, it should ensure the group games are more competitive.

Indeed, another group of note is that comprising three former All-Ireland Club winners – namely Sarsfields, Athenry and Kiltormer – while 2006 county champions Loughrea and perennial underachievers Craughwell will also be pushing hard to top Group A.

In Group B, there should be plenty of bite to championship action there, with St. Thomas’, Tommie Larkins and 2008 county finalists Gort – favoured to advance to the knockout stages. However, an ever-improving Turloughmore side is more than capable of grabbing one of the three places there.

The other team in this group is last year’s county intermediate champions, Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry. Although Tynagh were dumped out of the All-Ireland series by St. Gall’s of Antrim at Parnell Park recently, they did bounce back when recording a hugely impressive 7-15 to 1-4 victory over Rahoon/Newcastle in the 2009 County Intermediate League semi-final the following week.

The true worth of the side, though, is probably somewhere in between those two results, but they will still need to improve if they are to avoid a bottom table finish.

There is also a nice balance to Group C, where city side Liam Mellows and Castlegar will do battle with each other … and Carnmore, Ardrahan and an aggrieved Mullagh, who were left reeling last week after Croke Park reinstated the 48-week suspensions handed down to Galway senior panellist Conor Dervan, All-Ireland winning minor Davy Glennon and wing-back Johnny Rafferty.

No doubt, they are three influential individuals to take out of any side, and if the club are unable to overturn those suspensions, then a place in the knockout stages may just be beyond them. Still, the 2009 semi-finalists could quite easily hurl up a storm this year following the events of the last five months.

For more, read page 56 of this week’s Galway City 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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