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Kerry football giant nearly puts it all down to ÔluckÕ

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Date Published: {J}

AFTER just a couple of minutes with former Kerry Gaelic footballer, Darragh Ó Sé, you get a real sense of not only the man, but the legend. For while his inter-county days – during which he won an incredible six All-Ireland medals – may be behind him, the remnants of the burning desire still remains.

It may surprise some that Darragh Ó Sé was not always the first name on the club, never mind the Kerry team-sheet, growing up. In fact, until he hit his late teens, he was just another hopeful looking to make a name for himself in the game.

“There was no question about it, I wasn’t one of the better [underage] players,” admits Ó Sé, who has made the long, arduous trip to Craughwell GAA to present county medals to the rising stars of the fledgling football club. “There were better players underage than me, but, that said, I genuinely really wanted to play for Kerry. I wanted to be better than the rest. And I wanted to play as much for the county as I could.

“Funny thing, though, I never played much at midfield at underage, but I always wanted to play midfield for Kerry! So, I set very high standards; I set the bar right up there,” he laughs. “I didn’t care if I believed it or not. I just wanted it.”

To many, that may seem, as he says himself, “unbelievable”, but in his case, it just underlined his innate ambitious nature. “I was lucky enough because in my last year as a minor, between the age of 17 and 18, I grew a couple of inches, which made a big difference to me. That probably set me up then to play midfield.”

In speaking to Ó Sé – who has just released his autobiography, entitled ‘Darragh’ – the words “lucky”, “fortunate” and “enjoyable” dominate the discussion. Amazingly, for a man who played 16 years in the green and gold of Kerry, won those six All-Ireland medals, nine Munster titles, three National Leagues and four All-Stars, he feels, genuinely, “lucky”, “fortunate” and “privileged”.

Then again, Ó Sé enjoyed the same kind of upbringing as most of his peers – albeit, with the notable exceptional that his uncle, the great Páidí Ó Sé lived next door – and a young Darragh loved nothing more than kicking ball around the back garden with his brothers Fergal, Marc and Tómas.

Inevitably, there were a few broken windows over the years. “Oh windows broke, the whole lot,” exclaims Ó Sé with a broad smile. “Like every other house which had kids of that age I imagine. But it was very enjoyable as well. I have great memories of my youth, growing up like that, playing football and going to games.”

It all laid the foundation for an illustrious career in later years, one that was punctuated by as many highs as lows. There was rarely an in-between. He says, not surprisingly, that his first All-Ireland win in 1997 – a 0-13 to 0-7 victory over Mayo – was “hugely enjoyable”, but adds, “every All-Ireland, in fairness, had its own merits”.

“The All-Ireland win in 2000 (over Galway) would also be very high on my achievement list, because of the fact that we won both the semi-final and final after replays,” continues the former midfielder. “So, we went the hard way about it. 2006 was also very enjoyable. We beat Mayo in the final, but we had a tough route along the way. In 2009, we were on the ropes in a lot of the games there, but then we got to Croke Park and turned it around (with an All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Dublin).”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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