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Have Galway got the mental strength to tame Cats?



Date Published: 04-Jul-2012

IT might seem an odd observation to make, but possibly the best thing to have happened the Galway hurlers in the context of Sunday’s Leinster final is the fact that they were hammered by Kilkenny at Nowlan Park in the recent National League campaign. For a start, it means the Cats have no score to settle with the Tribesmen and they won’t necessarily be wound up to the same extent as they were in the league decider against Cork or against Dublin in the provincial semi-final.

Naturally, nothing can be taken as a given when you dealing with the greatest hurling team of all-time, but Kilkenny no longer see Galway as a major threat as evidenced by the recent championship results between the counties, while they are unlikely to draw any extra motivation from that record league beaten they inflicted on Anthony Cunningham’s charges or, for that matter, their comfortable victory over in the Walsh Cup final last February.

That is a potentially big benefit for Galway on Sunday. Remember the build up to the National League final . . . Cork’s challenge was being talked up; they had already beaten Kilkenny in the competition’s group stages; while there was much pre-match focus on Jimmy Barry Murphy’ so far successful second coming as team manager.

Furthermore, the All-Ireland champions had significant injury problems to overcome, including the absent Richie Power, Henry Shefflin and Michael Rice.

Against that background, the general expectation was that the Rebels had a real chance of carrying the day. Instead, the match was over after just ten minutes. Kilkenny went for the jugular early on and with Eoin Larkin proving a big handful on the edge of the square, they had Cork on the ropes in a matter of minutes. In the end, they cantered to a comprehensive victory in Thurles and the team look as good and hungry as ever.

There was a similar backdrop to the subsequent Leinster semi-final against Dublin. True, last year’s league winners ended up been demoted after unluckily coming out on the wrong side in a couple of close group outings but, all the time, the expectation was that the Dubs’ big focus was on their June championship opener against Kilkenny in Tullamore. Their long term casualty list was finally easing too with Thomas Brady, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney all restored to full fitness after protracted periods on the sideline.

Team manager Anthony Daly was publicly bullish about having a full squad to choose from for the first time in nearly a year, while Dublin would also have drawn some encouragement from firing home an incredible six goals against Kilkenny in a league match last February. Significantly, however, that haul wasn’t enough to earn them victory but still the hurling community anticipated that their physical intensity alone would severely test Kilkenny. Again, they were wrong in another heavily one-sided encounter.

Once more, Brian Cody’s squad did the damage early. Goals from TJ Reid and Power quickly had the Dubs reeling as their hurling technique, link up play and movement repeatedly exposed the opposition’s limitations. It was yet another master class from Kilkenny. In contrast, Dublin looked heavy-legged and out of their depth leaving Daly to ponder post-match on the ‘psychological’ advantage Kilkenny hold now over most of their opponents.

It wouldn’t stretch the imagination to suggest Galway might be heading into that category as well, but they possess lot more natural hurling instincts than Dublin while, as we have already alluded to, Kilkenny may not be as manic in their desire against them on Sunday as they were in those recent outings against Cork and Dublin. Trust me, that could be an influential factor into deciding as to how long Galway remain competitive in their second ever Leinster final appearance.

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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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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