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Jockey Killoran waiting for the big one



Date Published: 26-Jul-2012


NATIONAL Hunt jockey Richie Killoran may not enjoy the same level of adoration as Tony McCoy or Ruby Walsh among racing enthusiast, but the 26-year-old from College Road in Galway City has still cut out a nice niche for himself in the sport in the UK.

As Killoran admits himself, he is still waiting for that ‘big, big’ win, but in saying that he has had some good successes on the tracks. Indeed, he was the first jockey to guide Bobs Worth to victory, a horse which has won all four starts at Cheltenham, including the 2011 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle and the RSA Chase, both under Barry Geraghty, last March.

While, somewhat understandably, it is the classy Geraghty and Andrew Tinkler who receive the majority of premier rides at Nicky Henderson’s yard, which Killoran has been attached to for the last four years, he says he has loved every minute of it and, under Henderson and others, has had plenty of experience riding out on the big days at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.

No doubt, it’s a far cry from his days riding ponies in Claregalway but Killoran, who grew up on a stable diet of the Galway Races, always had it in his head to try his hand at horse-racing. So, at the age of 15, he left school, packed his bags, and began a year-long course at the Racing School on the Curragh.

As part of the process, he was initially based with Kildare trainer Patrick Prendergast but after serving his time there, he headed over as a flat jockey to England to join Andrew Balding’s yard at Kingsclere. He just felt the UK offered “so many more opportunities.”


Within a few weeks, Balding had Killoran out competing on the racecourses. “I ended up winning an apprentice series for less than 10 winners. So, that sent me to Dubai for a winter, for about two months. In Dubai, it was just work rides. I rode out at 4:30am in the morning until 8:30am and I was then finished for the day. It was a lovely job.”

At this time, though, a new problem arose for the then 18-year-old. “After that, I went back to Andrew, but my weight had gone and I was getting too big. So, he said to me why don’t I go jumping, which I always had at the back of my mind. I had never really jumped anything until I got my jump licence. Alright, I jumped on ponies, but it is a bit different,” he laughs.

It was still a big decision for Killoran, who had some notable wins on the flat. The highlight was a win at Newmarket on Conjuror while others included victories on Frank’s Quest and Richie Boy, which came home in Nottingham at a tasty 50/1.

In any event, Killoran decided to join National Hunt trainer Brendan Powell at his stables in Winchester in 2006. “It was very slow to begin with because I had never done any jumping, so I had to learn it all from scratch.”

“My first ride was the day Newmill won the Champion Chase (March 2006). I was at Huntington and I finished seventh on Poggenip. I felt very comfortable going around, I enjoyed it, and I pulled up smiling. I thought I was brilliant. Then the next five rides they all fell or I was unseated and I felt like giving up. I really wanted to give up after the last one, but Brendan wouldn’t let me.”

What was happening was that Killoran couldn’t slip his reins on the jumps and, consequently, the strength of the horse would pull him head over heels. Once this issue was addressed though, he began to land winners.

“Mick Fitzgerald came down, riding out with us when he was a jockey, and I got on really well with him. Anyway, Nicky Henderson actually had a horse (Slick) running in a conditional race and he had no one to ride it. Mick Fitz put me forward and I won on him [at Wincanton in November 2006]. That was my first winner over hurdles.

For more, read this week’s Galway CityTribune.

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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