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Mervue United extend their lead at the top of the table



Date Published: {J}

THIS time of the year, the prestigious Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup competitions crank into action, with the third-level Gaelic games scene becoming the proverbial beehive. Newly appointed Gaelic Games Development Officer at NUI Galway, Michael O’Connor, will certainly testify to that.

Although only months in the job, taking over from another Clare man Adrian Hassett, O’Connor has took it upon himself – and the university – to host the knockout stages of the Fitzgibbon Cup on the first weekend of March. To add to his workload in 2011, NUI Galway will then host the grand finale of the Sigerson Cup and its associate competitions.

“We decided that we would go and have a cut at it,” says O’Connor. “Maybe it was because I was new to the job. I had a fit of madness. If I had second thoughts, I may have thought otherwise about it now,” he laughs.

That said, O’Connor is more than capable of spearheading and, more importantly, coordinating the ventures locally. In addition to being a regular GAA contributor to local newspapers and radio stations in his native Clare and neighbouring Galway, O’Connor has served in a number of roles on the Clare County Board, including Youth Officer and Coaching Officer. He is also a past secretary of the Juvenile Hurling Board. So, he is no stranger to the administration side of Gaelic games.

“There is still an awful lot of work in it,” says O’Connor. “You have to get the students involved and there are numerous, numerous issues to deal with. I must compliment the college authorities, though. They have been absolutely brilliant.”

He also praises a long line of individuals, including Director of Elite Athletes, Gary Ryan, while also paying tribute to his old friend, Tony ‘Horse’ Regan, who retired as Head of Sport at the university after 36 years in charge last autumn.

Indeed, in many ways, the man fondly known as ‘Horse’ is responsible for O’Connor’s appointment. Earlier this decade, the Clare man decided to return to college, attending NUI Galway, where he met up with Regan, who promptly ‘invited’ the Crusheen man to get involved in the hurling club.

O’Connor, who has trained teams at all levels in Crusheen, except senior, duly did by taking charge of the Freshers and, in 2005, his young charges claimed that particular first year championship. Of that side, Liam Mellows’ John Lee, Mullagh’s Finian Coone and Newmarket’s David Barrett all still represent the university with distinction. It was arguably the highlight of O’Connor’s five-year association with the Freshers side.

As the Clare man continues to grow into his new role, organising training session and games, and looking at ways to further promote Gaelic games in the college, he is also becoming increasingly aware of the need to offer students a balanced approach … ensuring that as many as possible can play while, at the same time, respecting their educational requirements.

“In this modern day, the academic needs of the students are more important than ever. They can’t just be happy now, unlike years ago, to go and get a basic degree and move on to the next level. They need the highest degree possible, especially in the current climate, where even a lot of the well-qualified good young players are finding it very difficult to get work. So, that has now to become their priority.”

For more read page 52 of 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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