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MattÕs minors can come on leaps and bounds



Date Published: {J}

IT may have been a disappointing championship season for the both the Galway senior hurlers and footballers, but that shouldn’t cloud the reality that the county’s GAA teams are still on track to for a memorable 2011 with three All-Ireland finals to relish over the next ten days or so.

Already, Galway has banked a title haul this year which most other counties would be highly envious of. Alan Mulholland’s U-21 footballers swept to All-Ireland glory after defeating a highly fancied Cork outfit in the semi-final; Clarinbridge senior hurlers powered to championship glory against O’Loughlin Gaels last March; while the Killimor camogie team also made history with a first ever All-Ireland triumph.

That’s impressive going by any standards and GAA fans in the county still have the title bids of the Galway U-21 and minor hurlers to look forward to, along with efforts of Noel Finn’s senior camogie team to atone for last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Wexford when squaring up to the reigning champions at Croke Park on Sunday week.

Mattie Murphy’s minor hurlers are the first of these teams to have their final credentials tested when they clash with Dublin in what will be a repeat of the 1983 decider – a day when current U-21 manager Anthony Cunningham captained the Tribesmen to their first ever title at this level – at GAA headquarters on Sunday.

Murphy, of course, is already a law onto himself when it comes to moulding championship winners at this level. Five times (1992, ’94, ’04, ’05 and ’09), the Turloughmore native has guided Galway to All-Ireland glory and though his latest crop of young hurlers are slight outsiders for this weekend’s showdown, the young Tribesmen are bound to show significant improvement from their semi-final triumph over Clare.

The Banner boys had been installed as favourites to lift the Irish Press Cup after an impressive Munster championship campaign, while they also possessed a number of survivors from last year’s honourable All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny. As usual, Galway had come into that game as something of an unknown quantity having easily put an outclassed Antrim outfit to the sword in a one-sided quarter-final.

Clare did force the pace for much of the semi-final encounter with Galway and when they went three points clear in the second-half, it appeared that they were firmly in the driving seat. Significantly, however, Murphy and his management team made telling substitutions, especially up front, and few could dispute that Galway weren’t entitled to a draw, a scenario earned by Gerard O’Donoghue’s priceless injury time goal.

Whatever about the merits about playing the unexpected extra time, it was soon clear that Clare had more or less shot their bolt. They were physically struggling and, mentally, weren’t in a good place either after seeing an All-Ireland final place snatched from their grasp. Galway reserves, Jack Carr, Dean Higgins, Michael Mullins and Brian Molloy, who all scored critical points, were helping to establish a maroon stranglehold on the exchanges, while Shane Moloney began to cut loose when switched out the field.

In the end, Galway had five points (1-23 to 1-18) to spare, but everybody in their camp realises that they must improve for the showdown against a Dublin team which produced a breathtaking performance in their semi-final demolition of Waterford. By half time alone, they had stretched into whopping half-time lead of 17 points and though the Munster finalists didn’t throw in the towel, their cause was long since lost.

It is a measure of Dublin’s impressive scoring artillery, however, that they still won by nine points despite conceding 5-13. Ciaran Kilkenny and Cormac Costello did the scoring damage up front but, overall, the Dubs were physically imposing for a team operating at this level even if their defence has questions to answer after the All-Ireland semi-final. With the counties also clashing in the U-21 decider, the outcome of Sunday’s minor showdown takes on added significance.

It’s fair to assume that Galway will have a stronger team starting than was the case against Clare, while Padraig Brehony continues to look a fine prospect at midfield. Murphy and his mentors know what they are up against but having been here so many times before in September, if the outcome of the match depends on sideline intervention, Galway clearly have an edge.

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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