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CITY TRIBUNE

Late-starter Downey making her mark in international racquetball

Stephen Glennon

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Moycullen's Olivia Downey who is an Irish racquetball champions and has won doubles gold at European level,

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

MOYCULLEN’S Olivia Downey has some story to tell. For years, Downey was just a ‘social’ racquetball player who loved nothing more than a good old-fashioned chin-wag when the weekly Wednesday session came around.   Jump forward to 2017 and the 39-year-old has undergone a radical sporting transformation. In addition to being crowned the All-Ireland intermediate singles and doubles champion earlier this year, she also claimed three medals at the 19th European Senior Racquetball Championships last month.

Given where she has come from, Downey’s journey is a remarkable one. “Yeah, it was only in the last year – this year in fact – that I really began to take it seriously and I actually went down to train and not just to talk,” she laughs.

While she had been attending competitions in Connacht over the last three seasons, she had never ventured any further or, indeed, maybe, applied herself to the extent required to challenge and progress.

“Then, in January, I went to a tournament – the first time I went outside Connacht – in Tralee. When we were there, one of the girls from Castlebar – who was actually on the Ireland team – asked ‘do you ever do drills?’ And I said, what is a drill?

“She (Katie Kenny) said this is what you are supposed to be doing on your own. So, she came to Moycullen and showed all the girls. From then on, I said I will try this out and I ended up doing them.”

As the improvements began to be made in her game, Downey decided to aim for the All-Ireland championships, which, this year, were to be held in Ballinrobe in April. Downey excelled beyond her wildest expectations, not only winning the intermediate singles but also claiming the honours in the doubles with her sister, Rosie.

“Then, one of the lads, Johnny (O’Keeney), asked me would I be interested in going for the Europeans. I said I didn’t know if I would be good enough but I went for it. Only for Johnny asking me, I wouldn’t have thought of it.”

From then on, Downey dedicated herself to finding another level to her game, with preparations for the Europeans intensifying over the Summer, in particular the eight weeks before the championships in The Hague.

Along with Downey, the women’s Irish team included Mayo trio Donna Ryder (Newport), Kenny (Castlebar) and Ailbhe Gill (Ballinrobe) while the men’s outfit consisted of Joe Devenney (Ballinrobe), Padraic Ryder (Newport) and Cork duo Darragh O’Donoghue and O’Keeney.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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