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League take-off in Limerick

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}


FRESH from their Walsh Cup final victory last weekend, Galway senior hurlers’ remain largely unchanged for the county’s National League opener against a new look Limerick side in Kilmallock this Sunday (2:30pm). The one exception is that Cappataggle’s James Skehill replaces Kinvara custodian Colm Callanan, as the management continue on with their goalkeeping rotation policy.

Galway, though, are not without their injury concerns either, with in-form midfielder Ger Farragher in a race to be fit after sustaining a hip injury late on in the 1-22 to 1-15 Walsh Cup win against Dublin. Farragher was hugely influential for the Tribesmen in their pre-league victories over Laois, Offaly and Dublin and his absence against Limerick would be a significant blow.

Simply, the Castlegar man has offered leadership, guile and potency in front of the posts, tallying 1-22 from dead ball situations and an impressive 1-28 in total. If Farragher is not passed fit to play – he faces a fitness test on Friday night – then his free-taking duties could fall to a myriad of players, with fellow midfielder Niall Cahalan and St. Thomas’ David Burke the frontrunners to take over this duty.

Of course, it does beg the question, then, who would fill the No. 8 jersey? The Galway management is not short of options, with half-backs Tony Óg Regan and Kevin Hynes both having lined out in this sector previously. This would present an opportunity for Fergal Moore, John Lee or David Collins to make their return to first team action to fill the vacant half-back berth.

The management’s reluctance, though, to alter a winning side is underlined by the selection of Portumna’s Niall Hayes for this one. Hayes – who made himself available to Galway for the Walsh Cup as he was suspended for his club’s semi-final victory over Dunloy last Sunday – was lively in the left corner forward berth against Dublin, showing well for possession and hitting a beauty of a point in the second half.

It is understood he was eager to get another game under his belt before he turned his attention to his club’s All-Ireland final meeting against Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny on St. Patrick’s Day – a decision which, no doubt, has pleased the Galway management.

Other than that, the team lines out with Damien Joyce, captain Shane Kavanagh and Pat Holland in the full-back line, with Donal Barry, Regan and Hynes named in the half-back berths. Farragher, if fit, and Cahalan form the midfield partnership, while Aonghus Callanan, Cyril Donnellan and David Burke make up the half-forward line. Inside, Aidan Harte, impressive full-forward Joe Gantley – who totalled 3-10 in Galway’s Walsh Cup campaign – and Hayes will be asked to provide the scores.

Speaking on the team selection for the League clash against Limerick, manager McIntyre noted: “We are still a bit tight on options, but we did feel following on from the victory against Dublin that the players who started showed the right application and they deserved to get another crack at it.”

That said, Galway – despite the absence of several key players, including the Portumna septet of Damien Hayes, Ollie and Joe Canning, Eugene McEntee, Eoin Lynch, Andrew Smith and Kevin Hayes – still have ample back-up, with defenders Moore, Lee and Collins and attacking duo Niall Healy and Iarla Tannian all named in Sunday’s squad.

For their part, it will be a new-look Limerick outfit that will field in Kilmallock. After dismissing 12 of his 2009 panel last October, McCarthy had to endure a mass walk-out by as many more over the ensuing months.

The latest player to quit the 2010 county set-up this week was goalkeeper Timmy Houlihan, which means there are only four players from last year’s squad left in the current panel, namely Brian O’Sullivan, Graeme Mulcahy, Paudie McNamara and David Moloney.


Consequently, Limerick will field without the likes of Brian Murray, Damien Reale, Stephen Lucey, Seamus Hickey, Brian Geary, Mark Foley and Andrew O’Shaughnessy on Sunday. It had been hoped a mediation process between the manager and players would be facilitated by Croke Park but this has been rejected by Croke Park officials, who are unwilling to become embroiled in the controversy.

In any event, the Limerick side to face Galway will be an unknown quantity, although Limerick did give a spirited performance in their Waterford Crystal Cup quarter-final defeat to UCC in late January. Indeed, despite losing 0-19 to 2-9, the Shannonsiders’ offensive unit was said to be impressive that day and could have posted a much greater tally had not UCC ‘keeper Anthony Nash denied them on several occasions.

More recently, Limerick produced another capable display against Clare in a challenge match, losing narrowly on a scoreline of 1-22 to 0-20. No wonder, then, Galway are wary. “They played a strong Clare side in a challenge in Newmarket last week and they came close enough in that game,” said McIntyre. “Yes, they have had their problems, but it shows Justin McCarthy has assembled a squad of very capable young players and we just can’t take them for granted.

“So, we have to make sure our players approach the game in the proper frame of mind and not be focusing in on what has been going on in Limerick. Everyone is talking about Limerick’s internal problems, but the reality is that Galway still has to go down there and beat them.”

Again, stressing that this is “a dangerous fixture” for his charges, McIntyre added: “The Walsh Cup win was a good boost to squad morale – it was good for Galway to win in a final and it gives us momentum going into the league – but we have to make sure we exploit that in Kilmallock.”

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).

Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).

Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.

Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.

Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.

The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.

Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.

“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.

The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.

Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.

And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.

Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.

And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.

You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.

The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”

When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.

The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.

We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.

We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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