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Helebert highlights honesty of effort as the key to victory



Date Published: {J}


Same venue, same occasion, different world. They put the floodlights out early on the Galway supporters, management, and players as they celebrated on the Semple Stadium pitch on Saturday night – and quite a few of those present must have wished that the lights had gone off at some stage during that infamous 25 point drubbing by Tipperary 12 months ago.

For half of the current Galway U-21 panel, their reaction to that massacre could have gone either way. They could have let it get to them, they could have wallowed in the pain, but instead they focused all of their energies into the long road back to redemption which ended with the Cross of Cashel Cup in the Galway dressing-room on Saturday night.

They had 11 months to wait before they got a shot at redeeming themselves, against Limerick in last month’s semi-final, and few Galway people on the way to Thurles could have expected such a wonderful all-round team performance in the final.

And central to that renaissance, clearly, was the decision by team manager Anthony Cunningham to appoint two new selectors for his third year in charge. Neither Mattie Kenny nor Tom Helebert were involved in last year’s humiliating defeat in Tipperary’s own back yard and they clearly got the mood right in the training sessions since the 2011 panel regrouped in May.

Kenny and Helebert both had a ‘hands on’ role in training and the kind of swift tactical manoeuvring which saw the excellent Bernard Burke replace Tadhg Haran in the half-forward line, even though the Liam Mellows man had registered 1-3.

“We could ask for no more from this group of players,” said a delighted Helebert as the celebrations raged around the Galway dressing-room after the game. “I remember last year’s final well. I was down at the game here and you’d be horrified for the emotion of the players, because they had a very bad experience. But, when you look forward, you cannot let one game define your whole future. You have to put a defeat like that behind you.”

Perhaps the new voices at the sessions and new drills galvanised the players, but the team who went straight into the semi-final enjoyed a rare intensity in training this year. So much so that it was hard for the selectors to pick their starting XV. There were to be no sideshows or arguments over venues in 2011.

“Where I come from, at the end of the day, you turn up and you play. You compete. All we worked on in training all year long was getting fellas to be honest with themselves and to come to the table with work-rate, intensity, and honesty about the way they played. That was a feature of our training and any fella who wasn’t willing to contribute to that was found out,” said Helebert.

“What you have to build on is the mutual respect between the management and the players, and push on and work together for the common goal. We were very honest with the lads and they were very honest with us and we’ve ended up with the objective achieved. That’s what we are most proud about, that as a group of lads they worked to a man. Nobody let us down.”

For more, read 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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