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HurlersÕ gut-wrenching exit is as bad as it gets

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Date Published: {J}

IT’S 6.34am on Monday morning as I try to gather my thoughts just a few hours after Galway’s exit from the All-Ireland hurling championship. The heart is heavy and the head is tormented to say the least. I am already at the Tribune’s office in Market Street, sitting at my desk, trying to come to terms with probably the most agonizing defeat I have ever suffered as a team manager.

Sleep was scarcely an option the previous night. Having watched a recording of The Sunday Game, I dragged myself to the bed around 1am where I tossed and turned for what seemed an eternity before finally escaping the sheets at 5.45am. Last year was desperate after losing by a point to Waterford in Thurles, but Sunday’s late heartbreak feels worse. We were almost there, only to again suffer late agony.

The easy thing would have been to call the office and take the week off, but I have never yet missed a day’s work due to sporting depression. Driving in the few miles to the Tribune from Rosshill on the outskirts of the city, I couldn’t stop thinking about the players and the management team. They were simply brilliant people to work with, individuals proud to carry the Galway hurling flag, individuals who would do anything for the cause.

Not surprisingly, the Galway dressingroom was a raw place in Croke Park on Sunday evening. Several of us broke down as we publically gave vent to our feelings. It was total devastation; everyone was grieving as the dream of the McCarthy Cup coming West had died for another year. Tears were shed as the camp struggled to come to terms with another big game loss. It could just so easily have been our triumph as Tipperary’s, but when the final whistle blew it was the blue and gold who were celebrating.

Doing a round of TV, Radio and Press interviews immediately after the game was torture. I can’t have been coherent, but I hope I paid due tribute to the players and graciously acknowledged Tipperary’s victory. I was very upset over Niall Healy not being awarded a close range free in the last incident of the match, but there is nothing we can do about it now.

Publically wingin about referees serves no useful purpose. They are out there on their own and have an invidious job. James Ownes certainly let the play go last Sunday but, on balance, I thought we fared slightly worse with the Wexford’s official’s calls. Had he awarded a free to Galway at the death and Joe Canning gone for and scored a match-winning goal, Tipperary would have been entitled to feel that the Gods were completely against them after Diarmuid Kirwan’s controversial decision in the closing stages of last year’s All-Ireland final.

We tend to see only our own side of things, the perceived miscarriages of justice which affect us. There are two teams out there, each chasing their own dreams, and when a titanic match is settled by a solitary point, the gulf in emotions is staggering. In the cold light of day, like 12 months ago, Galway had virtually the match won, but didn’t close the deal. Whose responsibility is that? . . . it’s hardly James Owens’. We have to live with the consequences of that.

Both team captain Shane Kavanagh, what a match he had, and the long serving Ollie Canning, who sort of retired, gave full vent to their despair afterwards.

Listening to them, would tear your heart apart. I looked around the dressingroom and all I could see were men fumbling to keep their emotions intact. I failed that test spectacularly, but I have no regrets. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t be in there.

The team sponsor, Pat McDonagh, drew our attention to the fact that the Galway supporters had given the team a standing ovation trooping off the field. The players were heroic in defeat, had died with their boots on and it’s great to hear that the fans acknowledged that. It won’t make the pain go away, but it’s a small consolation. The Galway hurling team has won widespread respect after a year in which we won 12 and drawn one of our 16 competitive matches.

The Leinster final didn’t go well for us to put it mildly, but the players were determined to show their true colours against Tipperary. At different stages, we fell behind, at others, we went to the front. The outcome was on a tightrope for the virtual 73 minutes and, to be honest, I thought we were there until those late points from John O’Brien, Gearoid Ryan and Lar Corbett. If we had won the match in similar circumstances, we would have been in ecstasy. Tipperary, to their enormous credit, didn’t die. They will be all the stronger for it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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