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Hurlers & footballers have nowhere to hide

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 20-Jul-2007

THE point of no return has been reached by both the Galway hurlers and footballers.

It’s all or nothing now; win or bust. There are no more second chances; no more escape routes. Ger Loughnane and Peter Ford are in the knock out zone. Kilkenny and Meath bar their way respectively.

It could have been much easier only for Clare and Sligo surprisingly throwing a spanner in the works. It’s the hard way for both the county’s standard bearers now and, perhaps, the hurlers and footballers will be all the better for it. Playing safe is no longer an option.

Whatever is in them has to come out or its goodbye to championship glory in 2007. The fact that Galway are outsiders in this weekend’s two critical championship encounters will motivate and steel them on one hand, but highlights the magnitude of the task on the other.

The hurlers couldn’t face a more daunting assignment against the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park. Having wobbled early on against Antrim last Saturday evening, they cut loose in devastating fashion in cruising to a 25 points victory. It wouldn’t have been so big only for opposition full forward Kieran Kelly losing his head with a dangerous pull across Ger Mahon in the opening half, but Galway were already turning the game around with the in-form Alan Kerins helping himself to an outstanding tally of eight points from play.

Antrim, however, are hardly the ideal preparation for a showdown with Kilkenny even if Galway’s pace, movement and accuracy was heartening in their final All-Ireland qualifier. With no prematch indecision about who was lining out and with something to prove after their narrow loss to Clare, the home team were much livelier and Saturday’s big win will have helped to restore the squad’s confidence levels.

The team management had carried out significant surgery to the first fifteen from the Clare match and while not everything worked, notably David Tierney’s surprising deployment at wing back, the new midfield alliance and Mark Kerins’ return to the forty, it was clear what Loughnane and his selectors were up to — they were trying to exploit the natural pace in Galway’s ranks.

Damien Hayes, who fired home their first goal, was deployed at midfield, while Niall Healy and Kevin Broderick both came into the full forward line. In reality, utilising their natural speed is Galway’s only hope of flooring the All-Ireland champions.

True, they successfully took Kilkenny on physically in the 2001 semi-final, but such an approach wouldn’t have worked two years ago when the Westerners covered themselves in glory in an open, fast flowing and thrilling spectacle. Healy, in particular, will have fond memories of that encounter as he rattled the Cats’ net on three occasions.

It’s got to be more of the same from Galway on Sunday. Pace and movement is the only way to rattle the title holders who look as formidable as ever and are blessed with extraordinary physical power. They have again cruised through Leinster and you can be certain that they will be ready for Galway. Brian Cody doesn’t do complacency and with Loughnane in the opposition corner, it’s safe to assume the champions will be fired up against the one county which probably spook their team manager more than any other.

Few neutrals are giving Galway much of a chance but after what happened to Cork against supposedly battle weary and understrength opponents in Thurles last weekend, nothing can be discounted. Kilkenny are the benchmark in hurling these days and in the likes of Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney, Eddie Brennan, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Martin Comerford and Henry Shefflin, they possess some majestic players – but they are not invincible or unbeatable for that either.

Galway, however, can’t afford to start mixing it with them. Instead, they must try and open up the exchanges, avoid high puck outs raining down on the Kilkenny half-back line and maintain a high tempo throughout.

This is the game Loughnane has been waiting for; he admirably wants to test himself and his team against the best. He will be up for it — even if his untimely accusations about the Kilkenny backs being less than saints will surely antagonise the title holders — and one suspects that the players will be too. There may have been some doom in the county’s hurling strongholds last week, but every game is different. Galway go to Croke Park with a fighting chance. Nothing more; nothing less.

Though the Galway footballers have an impressive championship record against Meath and the Royal men were made to work hard for a two point win over Fermanagh last Saturday evening, there is no longer any great confidence behind Peter Ford’s squad. They were lucky to only escape with a one point defeat against Sligo and the decision to go ahead with a full round of domestic fixtures over the weekend was strange. Certainly, it could hardly be interpreted as vote of confidence in them by their own administrators. Perhaps, that change of environment will work to Galway’s advantage and give the players a fresh impetus, but the team management are going to have to bite the bullet and drop one or two of the old guard.

Sean Armstrong and Matthew Clancy, if fit, must be included in an attack which has faltered badly since the Mayo game. Galway’s defence has to get their house in order too and while Meath have a poor record in the All-Ireland qualifiers and are nothing exceptional, they will test the Tribesmen’s bottle. The Inside Track isn’t writing off Galway, but the odds are against them arresting what is looking like a serious decline.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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GalwayÕs U-13 and U-16 sides both through to national finals

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 14-May-2013

Mike Rafferty

It proved to be a very successful weekend for Galway Schoolboy soccer as two representative sides qualified for national finals at the end of the month.

It was drama all the way in Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday afternoon as the U-13 side drew 1-1 with the Midlands League, but came through the dreaded penalty shootout to prevail by 5-4.

 

Meanwhile the U-16 side had to travel to Cork, where they emerged 2-1 winners following a very impressive performance. For the second game in succession, it was the goals of the Connolly brothers that proved crucial to both team’s success.

Andrew lines out with the U-16 side and he notched both their scores in terrific away win, while younger brother Aaron was on target for the U-13 side and also converted the winning spot kick.

Mervue United captured a third consecutive Connacht Youth Cup with an impressive 4-1 win over Castlebar Celtic in Milebush on Saturday.

SFAI U-13 INTER LEAGUE SEMI FINAL

Galway League 1

Midlands League 1

(AET-Galway won 5-4 on pens)

A low scoring contest might indicate few chances, but one has to credit two outstanding defences whose splendid covering and marshalling of the front men was a joy to watch.

Galway’s Oisin McDonagh and Adam Rooney never put a foot wrong in central defence, while full-backs Byron Lydon and Matthew Tierney were equally efficient in defence, and getting forward with regular forays.

Further afield, they matched the visitors in terms of intensity and creativity and in the second half in particular should have pulled away from a Midlands side that won the U-12 national title last year.

The visitors certainly offered the greater attacking threat in the opening half, but found home custodian Mark Greaney in top form. Galway’s best chance fell to Joshua Quinlivan, but he pulled an effort wide of the target.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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