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Improved Connacht give hint of promise



Date Published: 03-Nov-2009

A HINT of promise surrounds Connacht as they head into their mid season break. No one is getting carried away but Friday’s fully deserved home win has at least kept the wheels on the tracks in the Magners League which might give them the platform to make a real push on the European front.

Let’s take stock. Connacht are bottom of the Magners League, but they are just one point behind Cardiff and two behind Llanelli so they are still in touch. The westerners top their admittedly weak Challenge Cup pool, so job done there, and all in all they have some sort of a foundation for the next batch of action which starts away to Cardiff on the first Sunday in December. As mercies go, it’s small but we’ll take it.

Friday offered more than simply just a lifeline, though, it offered a brief glimpse of the possibility of better days ahead. The all round commanding display from the Connacht pack, the poise and creativity of the half back pairing – Frank Murphy and Ian Keatley were at their very best – suggests that there has been a shift in fortunes and there is potential for more although back to back displays are needed.

From a very early point on Friday, one thing was clear. Connacht were the better side and were more than capable of winning. However, three specific home games were lost last year in identical circumstances, one of them to the Scarlets when a 14 point lead had been built up – so the home fans in the 1,756 crowd were not about to get carried away.

The signs were clear however. The Scarlets broke in midfield early on and Keith Matthews scrambled back to make a key tackle having missed his man initially. That was it for nervy moments as Connacht dug in and slowly began to assert themselves. From that point forward there really seemed to be just one team in it.

The 16-10 scoreline doesn’t do the performance justice. Connacht were 13-0 up after 50 minutes and cruising and it is likely that the Scarlets wouldn’t have even registered a score had referee Graham Knox not intervened to bizarrely sin bin Brett Wilkinson for a scrum infringement despite Connacht’s complete dominance in the set piece.

The best way to sum up Connacht’s superiority is to go down through the 15 starters and four replacements and think who delivered top drawer performances. There isn’t a player who fell short of 100% and it all told in the end. People can talk about budgets until the cows come home but the reality is that the current crop are capable of a mid-table finish in this league and games like this are the proof.

For more see page 28 of this week’s Sentinel

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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