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Impressive Corofin are capable of going all the way

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: {J}

IN TERMS of prestige alone, it was Corofin’s biggest game of the year . . . in reality, it turned out to be their easiest. The Galway football champions were entitled to anticipate a stiff challenge from Charlestown in last Sunday’s Connacht club showdown but, instead, they romped home with an almost embarrassing ease.

Nothing may have come easy for Corofin in their successful defence of the county title, but Gerry Keane’s charges have found the provincial battleground far less arduous following convincing victories over Glencar/Manorhamiliton of Leitrim and their weekend demolition of the Mayo title holders who proved a major disappointment in their own back yard.

A comprehensive 13 points victory margin tells its own story as Corofin sauntered to the club’s fifth Connacht title and when you consider that they were missing three of their top performers in Kieran Fitzgerald, Michael Comer and Alan O’Donovan, who made a late appearance as a substitute, it underlines the gulf in standard between the best club team in Galway and, supposedly, what was the best team in Mayo.

Maybe, Charlestown had an off day, but there was no excuse for the manner in which they were standing off their Corofin opponents for much of the match. They couldn’t cope with the champions’ pace and movement and only for two brave blockdowns by full back Daragh McMeel in the opening-half, the home team would have been beaten out of sight. Though Aidan Higgins tried hard at centre back, Tom Parsons made a few bursts around midfield, and Richie Haran and Paul Mulligan looked threatening up front, Charlestown were simply out of their depth.

In contrast, Corofin arguably produced their best ever performance outside of Galway’s borders. Freed from the familiarity of the county championship scene, Kieran Comer and company looked really liberated against their Mayo hosts. There was an impressive energy and purpose about them as Corofin easily set up an All-Ireland semi-final clash with St. Gall’s of Antrim who were doing something similar to the Loop of Derry in the Ulster decider in Newry on the same day.

The Galway men certainly hit the ground running in Charlestown. After only three minute they had the ball in the net when Kieran Comer sent the ball low past John Casey. The score summed up Corofin’s ambition as full forward Joe Canney had a point begging to be taken, but kept edging closer to the posts until delivering the killer pass to his team captain.

Facing the elements, they couldn’t have wished for a better start.Corofin were undoubtedly bracing themselves for a big Charlestown response, but it never came.

In fact, the Mayo outfit didn’t manage their first score until the 16th minute – a Paul Mulligan point – and their sporadic attacks lacked the cutting edge of opponents who were much livelier virtually from the throw in. Three Comer frees and a Michael Farragher effort kept Corofin in pole position as they retired 1-4 to 0-4 ahead at the interval with the elements to back them on the resumption.

The match wasn’t dead yet for Charlestown, but they were even worse in the second-half as, this time, their scoring drought extended to 20 minutes.The Corofin defence, well marshalled by Damien Burke and Tony Goggins in the central positions, was giving nothing away cheaply as the Connacht final became even more one-sided. In retrospect, Charlestown’s provincial semi-final difficulties with an average Castlerea team were no accident.

The third quarter one-way traffic only served to underline’s Corofin’s superiority. A back-to-form Comer landed three frees before scoring a cracker from play, while the industrious Canney (two) and Greg Higgins also split the Charlestown posts.

It shouldn’t have been this easy, but the Galway title holders were at the top of their game and they were in no mood to drop the intensity levels either as the versatile Ciaran McGrath, together with substitutes Alan O’Donovan and Shane Monahan, also struck the target. Just on the stroke of normal time, Corofin took advantage of the token defensive resistance to engineer their second goal.

Raiding wing back Gary Sice played a one-two with Canney before first-timing the ball to the net. That score summed up their greater verve and quality against admittedly weak opposition.

On Sunday’s evidence, Corofin are well capable of emulating the club’s history makers of 1998 next Spring by capturing the Andy Merrigan Cup.St. Gall’s, of course, will be far tougher opposition in the All-Ireland semi-final but, for the time being, the men in green and saffron can celebrate another year of high achievement – a scenario which had appeared unlikely after making quite a stuttering start to their defence of the Galway title.

For more Inside Track see page 53 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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