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Heartbreak for Portumna



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

in Croke Park

This one’s going to hurt for months to come. Ballyhale, no doubt, drowned the shamrock on St Patrick’s night after a comprehensive five-point defeat of defending champions Portumna at Croke Park yesterday, a win that brings them top of the club hurling roll of honour with five titles. For Portumna, well, they had to settle with drowning their sorrows.

Portumna’s pain won’t stem from having their chances of winning an historic third All-Ireland club title in a row quenched, though. Nor will the fact that their incredible 29 match unbeaten run was brought to a halt in the final.

What will really stick a stake through the hearts of this ‘band of brothers’ is the manner in which they relinquished the right to be crowned the undisputed greatest hurling – and probably football – club to ever grace Croke Park. That’s what was at stake and it will haunt the Portumna lads who never hurled like the way we know they can.

Portumna failed to show up and were a shadow of the team that clinically executed a win over the same opposition at the semi-final stage last year. Indeed, the reigning champions never got out of gear; never came anywhere close to hurling to their ability.

Bar Joe Canning’s outstanding performance and the battling displays of Ollie Canning and Eoin Lynch, both of whom tried hard, Portumna were second best. That’s what will give them nightmares. This team knows they are miles better than what they showed on Wednesday and that’s the killer.

They were beaten by a Ballyhale Shamrocks outfit that was hungry for revenge, and – despite battling to the death – they had no answer.

Ballyhale did to Portumna what the South East Galway men were supposed to do to them. The Kilkenny men worked like dogs, hooked, blocked and tackled with a ferocity normally associated with Portumna and the Galway men just couldn’t cope. Ballyhale had a game plan and executed it to the letter. From the throw-in it was clear the Kilkenny men weren’t going to be bowled over as easily as they were in Thurles last year.

Instead they unceremoniously tore into Portumna from the word go. In contrast, unusually, the Portumna lads never settled and seemed completely rattled by the intensity Ballyhale brought to the game.

Nothing was going right for Portumna in the first half. Joe Canning tried for a goal a few minutes in – no doubt hoping for another goal blitz start – but he was denied by an expert save by James Connolly.

Alan Cuddihy was cleaning up in the Ballyhale full-back line; Cha Fitzpatrick and Michael Fennelly were on top at midfield; and the half-forward line, in particular Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid looked a class apart.

Ballyhale got right in their faces. Battled harder for every ball. You could see the hurt of last year oozing out of them as the Killkenny men hunted in packs and hassled and harried for everything.

All of a sudden, with 15 minutes gone, Portumna found themselves 0-6 to 0-1 behind – a quarter of an hour gone and the match was passing Portumna by.

Of course the wonder boy Joe kept things ticking over – he scored points from all angles from placed balls – and amazingly, Portumna got to the dressing room, just six points in arrears. It was bad but not insurmountable.

When Portumna got back to within four points after upping the ante, there was a sense that they could pull it out of the fire. But then disaster struck – a mistake by ‘keeper Ivan Canning gift wrapped a goal for David Hoyne with 14 minutes remaining.

Around an hour and a half before throw-in, long before the first few fans took up their seats, the Croke Park announcer alerted the stewards over the PA system of the sound ‘ding-dong-ding’ that would ring out in the event of an emergency – the chime couldn’t be heard when the goal went in but it was certainly an emergency for Portumna, a painful sucker punch from which they never recovered as Ballyhale ploughed on for victory.

“It’s one of the toughest dressing rooms I’ve ever been in,” a visibly dejected Portumna midfielder, Eoin Lynch told Tribune Sport in the dressing room afterwards.

“It’s very disappointing but these things happen. We’ve had our disappointments before and we bounced back but this one will take a little time. We’ll have to reflect over the next few days, we’ll regroup because the age profile of this team is still young enough and when you have young lads like Joe Canning and Martin Dolphin coming through, the spirit and confidence they have, I’ve no doubt there will be good days ahead for Portumna. This is a tough one to take but we’ll reflect, we’ll take it in, we’ll learn from it and we’ll move on.

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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