Date Published: 06-Jan-2012
CONNACHT Rugby is running a competition to win tickets to the round 5 Heineken Cup away clash with Toulouse, where as well as match tickets, two fans get to travel on the squad’s plane, on the team bus from the French airport and stay in the team hotel.
The only downside for the winners is they may also need to bring their boots in case they get called into Eric Elwood’s match day squad, a scenario that is becoming less and less far-fetched as the injury crisis that has hit luckless Connacht of late deteriorated further.
Elwood will have to dig deep into his squad’s reserves this week as Connacht head to Italy, Saturday (kick-off 4.35pm) to face Aironi, with an injury list almost as long as the hard luck stories contained in their losing streak, which stretched to 12 after a cruel, cruel loss to European champions Leinster on New Year‘s Day at the Sportsground.
Winger Brian Tuohy, stretchered off the field during Sunday’s 13-15 defeat, underwent surgery on a broken leg and will be sidelined probably for the rest of the season.
Openside flanker johnny O’Connor, just back from a long injury lay-off, suffered a triple facial fracture and could be on the treatment table for between six and twelve weeks depending on whether scans confirm he needs surgery or not.
The coach revealed that the 31-year-old, who only recently re-signed for Connacht, suffered a blow to the face very early on against Leinster but in true O’Connor fashion – they don’t call him ‘Johnny Concrete’ for nothing – he battled through the pain barrier for 80 minutes, and declined to be taken off at half-time even though his face had swelled-up.
Meanwhile, up-and-coming home-grown star, centre Eoin Griffin suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem and will be out for a fortnight. Resurgent prop this season, Ronan Loughney, could be sidelined for between two to four weeks, according to Elwood, due to a shoulder injury while fellow front row Rodney Ah You is on the treatment table.
Dave Gannon (medial ligament) and Mark McCrea (hamstring) are also unavailable while long-term absentees Dave Nolan, Andrew Browne and James Loxton are a while away from recovery yet.
Despite having to ream off that depressing list of injuries, not to mention the fact that Connacht can’t buy a break at the moment, Elwood was in surprisingly upbeat mood at Tuesday’s press briefing. He was good-humoured, chirpy and cracking the odd joke making us wonder what he’d be like had Miah Nikora’s last gasp drop-goal sailed over.
It wasn’t all bad news on the injury front: Centre Dave McSharry, fly-half Niall O’Connor, who was withdrawn just before the Leinster match due to a back spasm, and forwards Ray Ofisa and Michael Swift should all be recovered for the Aironi match.
What really had Elwood giddy though was the man sitting beside him, Clifden native Tiernan O’Halloran, who had just put ink to paper on a two year contract extension with the province, which – although not unexpected – is a coup given the attention the 20-year-old has been receiving from other clubs since making a mark in the senior set-up.
Fans’ favourite ‘legend’ Swift, the most capped Connacht player of all-time, has also signed a one-year contract extension.
Elwood insisted his squad were in excellent psychological shape and morale was high ahead of the ‘massive test’ against basement outfit Aironi.
Fringe players like Mick Kearney, Denis Buckley, Dylan Rogers and Eoin McKeon could all get a chance to shine in the coming weeks until the injury crisis abates.
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.