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Mayo are ripe for an ambush

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Date Published: 16-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

LOGICALLY, Mayo should win this handy enough. So the conventional wisdom goes. But when did logic ever enter the equation when Galway and Mayo cross swords in summer Connacht Championship battles?

Mayo come to Salthill on Sunday and are expected to account for the hosts with plenty to spare in the Connacht Championship quarter-final (throw-in at Pearse Stadium is 4pm). They’re the 2012 All-Ireland finalists and they’re on the hunt of three Connacht titles in-a-row, a feat they haven’t achieved since the 1950s.

Galway, in contrast, are low on confidence: Galway havn’t won a Connacht title since 2008, havn’t won a game in Croke Park in 12 years, and have crashed out of the championship through the back door pretty ignominiously over the past few years with a series of one point defeats against what would be traditionally considered ‘weaker’ counties.

Having lost – again – in the All-Ireland final against Donegal last September, all the talk emerging from across the border has been on how Mayo can go one better this year. There’s been double page spreads with Mayo men in national tabloid sports pages over the past fortnight, previewing the upcoming championship and there’s talk of another All-Ireland appearance this year.

There’s not a peep about a Connacht medal never mind an All-Ireland surrounding the Galway camp. Now, that might be a fairly accurate reflection of where both counties stand at the minute, but it’s a mindset thing, too.

Mayo see Galway as a means to an end; Galway are almost viewing this game as an end in itself, it’s their All-Ireland final. Mayo might just regret taking their eyes off the ball; already looking further ahead past this Galway game. They’re almost unbackable favourites. But viewed from a Galway perspective, Mayo have farther to fall. They’re ripe for an ambush.

Galway should at least have enough pride in the jersey not to roll over in their own back-yard – they’ll certainly aim to rattle them. Whether that’s enough, and whether they have the quality to topple them after rattling them, is unknown.

Certainly, the Galway team that was named by manager Alan Mulholland and selectors Alan Flynn and Donal Ó Fátharta, on Tuesday night, particularly the forwards, has the armoury to cause an upset.

Michael Meehan, the closer to goal he roams, has the potential to exploit any shortcomings in Mayo’s rearguard – he can be lethal and the sight of the Caltra man hitting the onion bag would prove a huge psychological boost and blow to the respective teams.

If Seán Armstrong brings his ‘A’ game, then he’ll trouble any defence. The Salthill/Knocknacarra man is named at corner forward but don’t be surprised if he moves to the ‘40, with another serious scoring threat, St James’ Paul Conroy named at centre-forward, switching inside, where his height and strength can cause bother.

Danny Cummins, who hit form in the league, and was probably Galway’s most consistent performer up front, completes the full-forward line with Tuam Stars Conor Doherty named at 12. One of two U21s from the All-Ireland victory against Cork, Tom Flynn will probably play a roving role at wing-forward, supporting his U21 captain, Fiontán Ó Curraoin who partners Niall Coleman in the engine room of centre-field. How they cope against the likes of Mayo’s powerful midfielder Aidan O’Shea will be a major factor in the outcome.

Gary Sice and Gareth Bradshaw are named at wing back, with the latter wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Finian Hanley, who failed to shake off a shoulder injury.

In captain Hanley’s absence, 2011 All-Ireland U21 winning captain, Colin Forde from Killererin has an opportunity to stake a claim at full-back with Mountbellew/Moylough’s Gary Sweeney and St James’ Johnny Duane in the corners.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Mervue United advance to the quarter-finals of U-17 FAI Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

On a weekend when the vast majority of the action fell by the wayside due to the inclement weather, Mervue United U-17 struck late to snatch a winner in Donegal as they qualified for the last eight of the FAI U-17 Cup following a success over Swilly Rovers.

Local League action saw just three games survive as OLBC notched a second half winner to defeat Hibernians to move into third position in the Premier League.

In the lower Divisions, table toppers Mervue United B and Moyne Villa continued on their merry ways with away wins over Bohemians and Naomh Briocain.

Swilly Rovers 0

Mervue United 1

In a game that was switched to a playable pitch in Fanad, Mervue United took a long time to assert their authority before striking late to give the home side no chance to respond.

The 89th minute winner was created by an Andrew Connolly flick on following a Ryan Manning thrown in and Schoolboy International Conor Melody made space for himself in the box before firing past Caolan Bolton.

It was no less than the visitors deserved against a young home side, but they had to work extremely hard for their victory.

While Anthoine O’Laoi missed a good first half opportunity, just a long range Manning free kick tested Bolton otherwise. Substitute John Migel Soler almost made an instant impact on the resumption, but was denied by a smart save.

Connolly, O’Laoi and Paul Healy all threatened a break though for the visitors, before a fine-tuned Melody eventually saved the day and secured the Mervue passage.

Mervue United: P Healy, Barry, Bailey, P Healy, Carroll, Melody, Assagbo, Manning, Cunningham (Soler), Connolly, O’Laoi.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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