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Lam the choice now as Holley rejects Connacht



Date Published: 09-Jan-2013

THE appointment of Eric Elwood’s successor as Connacht’s Head Coach for next season has hit choppy waters after former Ospreys Head Coach Sean Holley confirmed this week he had turned the position down.

Already, there had been controversy when former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan, who guided the country to three Triple Crowns and lives in Moylough, was even denied an interview for the position although, it is understood, he did hold preliminary talks with the province.

Holley told BBC Wales this week he had been offered the role of Head Coach at Connacht but that the timing and his current personal circumstances influenced his decision not to head to the Sportsground. Connacht supporters will be asking, though, why he then applied for the position?

Another coach believed to be on the shortlist who has taken himself out of the running is former Wasps and England out-half Alex King, who has been serving as assistant coach at Clermont Auvergne for the last five years but has now committed to Northampton from next Summer on.

Despite these setbacks, Connacht Rugby CEO Tom Sears has indicated Elwood’s successor will be announced by the end of January – if not sooner. However, he would not confirm reports that former Auckland Blues Head Coach Pat Lam is now favoured for the role, explaining that he could not comment on the process until the appointment was “signed, sealed and delivered”.

He would also not confirm who had made the shortlist but said all of the candidates had been interviewed by the four-man panel of CEO Sears, Conor McGuinness and Steve Cunningham of the Connacht Professional Games Board, and IRFU Director of Rugby, Eddie Wigglesworth.

“As of yet, nothing is finalised but we would hope to make an announcement by the end of January, if not sooner,” reiterated Sears, who had previously confirmed that a dozen coaches with experience of managing international teams at rugby World Cups had applied for the position. According to media reports over the weekend, former Samoan and All-Blacks forward Lam is now rergarded as the front-runner for the vacancy.

In addition to being capped for New Zealand (1) and Samoa (34), Lam played his club rugby with Crusaders and Auckland before moving to Newcastle Falcons and later Northampton Saints, with whom he won a Heineken Cup in the 1999/2000 season.

The 44-year-old has had an equally varied coaching career. He was assistant coach to Scotland in the 2003 World Cup before being appointed as Head Coach of Auckland’s provincial side in 2004. In his four years there, he guided them to a second Air New Zealand Cup and to the Ranfurly Shield. Indeed, with the Blues – who Lam would later coach – also winning the Super Rugby title in this period, it was the first time a region held all three crowns.

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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