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Heartbreak for Portumna

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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

Judy Murphy



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

Galway girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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Archive News

Feast of folk at An Taibhdhearc

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

Galway group We Banjo 3, comprising Enda and Fergal Scahill with Martin and David Howley, will team up with Dublin band I Draw Slow for a unique concert at An Taibhdhearc, on Thursday next, February 28, 8pm.

Featuring banjos, fiddle, mandolins, guitars, banjolin and vocals We Banjo 3 combine Irish music with old-time American, ragtime and bluegrass influences, revealing the banjo’s rich legacy from its roots in African and minstrel music through to the Irish traditional sound pioneered by Barney McKenna.

Their début album, Roots of the Banjo Tree, was voted best trad album in The Irish Times in December 2012.

The roots band I Draw Slow perform a blend of old time Appalachian and Irish traditional material that has been described as a fully natural evolution of American and Irish traditional styles.

Their top 10-selling second album, Redhills was named RTÉ’s album of the week in 2011 and it frequently features on playlists of stations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Next Thursday’s concert in An Taibhdhearc is presented by Music Network and An Taibhdhearc and starts at 8pm. Tickets are €15. Booking at 091-562024.

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