Date Published: 15-Nov-2012
WHEN the new championship structure was unveiled, whereby teams had to be up to speed as early as the opening round, some pundits believed that the likes of Portumna, Clarinbridge and Loughrea could suffer as in the old system the top teams were succinctly able to time their run to peak later in the year.
In the end, one of the title challengers did get caught, in Clarinbridge – now embroiled in the relegation quagmire on and off the field – and Loughrea captain Gavin Keary agrees that was always a danger. “No doubt, the new championship structure has offered different challenges but I think every club player would have welcomed those,” says Keary.
“We found you probably had to be a lot sharper at the start of the year than other years because you didn’t know who you were going to get in the draw. Other years we would keep the training to the very minimum early on and just try to look after ourselves off the pitch. This year, we knew we had to do a bit more Summer training in the Wintertime to get ready. That was the only thing we found different.
“After that, you could have drawn anyone in the first round – your St. Thomas’, your Gorts or your Portumnas – but I think if you go through the first round matches this year they were all very close. So, the standard has become a lot tighter and teams have become a lot better.”
As it was, Loughrea came through a tough battle with old rivals Athenry in the first round before they brushed aside a stunned Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry in their opening group game. They subsequently took apart Athenry, 2-21 to 2-10, in their second game before playing out a 2-16 to 3-13 draw against St. Thomas’ in their final group fixture – a game that was, by and large, meaningless as both had qualified for the quarter-finals.
It was clear, though, that Loughrea were asserting themselves as genuine county title contenders once again . . . but not only that, they were a team evolving. In previous years, they had bulldozed their way to a number of victories; now, they were winning these games with no small amount of style.
“I can understand where you are coming from,” smiles Keary. “We probably have had to adjust the way we play with the type of players that have come in. The younger guys who have arrived on the scene are just different hurlers than what was there in the past – the Dermot Melias, the Greg Kennedys and Mike Kearns. These guys are gone so you just have to work with what you have got.”
In any event, there is a nice balance to the Loughrea side with the likes of Sean Sweeney, Paul Hoban, Neil Keary, Jamie Ryan and, of course, All-Star Young Hurler of the Year Johnny Coen complementing the wealth of experience permeating throughout the older players, such as captain Keary. The concoction has certainly lent itself to something different in Loughrea’s style of play.
It was this mixture of youth and experience that stood them in good stead when their backs were against the wall in the quarter-final against Mullagh, when late scores secured them a draw. “I think we really got out of jail that first day,” remarks Keary.
“When it is a local derby, you just know down through the years there is going to be nothing in it. We were lucky to get away with a draw the first day. We played very poorly and we were kind of annoyed with ourselves that we didn’t do what we set out to do. So, we tried to rectify it the next day.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.