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KellyÕs yard punching above its weight



Date Published: {J}


ONE West of Ireland trainer who is hoping to make his mark at the Galway Races next week is Ballygar man, David Martin Kelly.

Although Kelly took out a trainer’s licence in 2005, it has only been in recent months that he has really sprung to prominence, having graced the winners’ enclosure at Kilbeggan (Benefitthewest & Mind The Steps), Down Royal (Like The Da), Sligo (Benefitthewest) and Gowran Park (Like The Da) already in 2011.

Kelly’s achievements have been just reward for a man that has invested heavily, emotionally and financially, in elevating his status in an ultra-competitive sport. In many respects, he is a triumph for the ‘small’ trainer.

That said, equine pursuits have always played a large part in his life. His passion for horses, he says, probably came from his father, Tom, who worked for the well-known Costello family in Clare in his younger days, riding point to point.

“I used to do a good bit of showjumping myself before I got injured,” outlines the 34-year-old. “I broke my pelvis in three places and my femur. So, after that, I decided to do the trainers’ course. Basically, that is how I started into training. The fall might have ended my jumping career, but it started a new career for me, fortunately.”

It was not, though, that Kelly was unfamiliar with the process. He had worked and pre-trained horses for owners before the thoroughbreds were sent to bigger trainers previous to this, so when he was awarded his licence in 2005 it was just a matter of expanding his operation.

Already, many of the building blocks for a successful yard were in place, such as the horse walker and the indoor training facilities, but Kelly recognised he had to take it a step further.

“I built a gallop here at the house to school them for hurdles and fences,” he continues. “In the meantime, I also bought a bit of land in Roscommon and I put a six furlong uphill grass gallop on it. I knew what I needed to have, and I have all the facilities now.”

While the father of one could only boast of some minor placings in his debut season (’05), he finally broke his duck the following year with Killeroran Kash. “She was my first major winner,” beams Kelly. “She was owned by Padraig Egan in Ballygar and she won at both Fairyhouse and Galway for me. It was great. I was delighted to get my first winner.”

Slowly but surely, success followed. In 2007, Doranstown Boy won at Downpatrick, before Im A Witness (Roscommon), Like The Da (Clonmel) and Colmanstown Hope (Navan) secured victories for the trainer in 2008. In 2009, Colmanstown Hope (Punchestown), Moscow Roller (Naas) and Brownpolish (Thurles) proudly flew the flag, while ast year, Doransfirth (Kilbeggan & Galway) and Missgiloney (Limerick) claimed first place finishes.

“I have kind of improved every year and the last couple of months I have had a good few winners and a good few placed horses,” says the East Galway trainer. “Benefitthewest, Mind The Steps and Like The Da are the three big ones at the moment.

“Doransfirth is another, having won two races for me last year. She won in Kilbeggan and Galway (Autumn meeting) last year. Actually, she was going well in Tipperary the last day – she would have been second – but she tripped up at the second last fence, which was disappointing.”

In any event, Kelly has saddled five winners so far this year, which for a stable of his size is pretty impressive. “To be honest, I am quiet at the minute with horses. I have only five horses returned for training. It is due to the economy, but from October onwards I would hope to have 20 horses in for the winter. I would always be fairly quiet this time of the year anyway.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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