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Moment of truth for Galway U21s

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 01-May-2013

 Dara Bradley

FOUR matches, four victories, one after extra-time, a Connacht title, four goals and 56 points scored, four goals and 30 points conceded, a heap of wides from their opponents, sinews strained, buckets of sweat and blood spilled.

It’s been one hell of a roller coaster campaign for the Galway U21 footballers but all that will be forgotten come 7pm on Saturday evening at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick when they cross swords with Cork for the honour of being crowned Cadbury’s All-Ireland champions.

Six weeks ago as Galway set out on their 2013 U21 journey against Sligo in Tuam, the May Bank Holiday weekend final was always the target. They took each game as it came and now it has come down to this – 60 minutes of football to decide who the best U21 team in the land is.

And while there were times along the way when Alan Flynn’s charges looked like they’d fall off the wagon, against Mayo, against Roscommon and again against Kildare, Galway showed resilience and mental strength to time and again bounce back and defy the odds. Often down, never out. It is that perseverance that will stand to Galway in the heat of battle this weekend.

Cork has won an All-Ireland at this grade more times than any other county since the competition’s inception in the 1960s. The most recent of their 11 titles was won in 2009, and they’ve claimed a three-in-a-row of Munster titles with a defeat of Tipperary last month.

Interestingly, five players – Alan Cronin, Jamie Wall, John O’Rourke, Tom Clancy and Damien Cahalene, the son of former inter-county player Niall – that are expected to start this Saturday lined out in each of the last three Munster finals, so they have experience of playing in the pressure cauldrons.

Galway aren’t as experienced. True, a couple of players already have a All-Ireland medal from 2011 – a year Galway beat Cork in the semi-final – but there are a lot of young guns in the panel. Of the squad of 33, about 19 of them are young enough to play U21 next year as well, while eight or nine of the starting 15 will be eligible next year, although you wouldn’t think it given the levelheadedness they’ve displayed throughout the past six weeks.

Galway had plenty to spare over a hapless Sligo outfit in Tuam the first day out, winning by 16 points, which didn’t flatter them, but old rivals Mayo in the following game at the same venue was a different story. After a tense and tight hour of fare, Galway took the spoils after showing immense character to dig it out by two points in a dogfight, 0-9 to 0-7.

Fighting qualities were needed again in the Connacht final in Hyde Park against Roscommon – Galway were minutes from being knocked out of the championship when a heroic comeback, three points in as many minutes from Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s Shane Walsh, rescued extra-time, a period which Galway never looked like losing.

The Tribesmen took their chances when they presented themselves, a trait that also saw them knock-out Kieran McGeeney’s highly rated and much fancied Kildare outfit in a thriller at Tullamore a fortnight ago.

The Lilywhites were wasteful, true, but that’s their problem, and Galway just had too much natural footballing class to take their chances and emerge with a deserved five points, 2-10 to 2-5 victory, despite 19 wides from the vanquished.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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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Killimor unable to cope with MilfordÕs pace and intensity

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

Milford 3-6

Killimor 1-6

Eoghan Cormican at Croke Park

FOR those who arrived early into Croke Park for this All-Ireland senior club camogie final, the warning signs from a Killimor perspective were frighteningly evident for all to see.

The Cork champions had set-up base towards the Hill 16 end where a savage warm-up drill played out for the guts of a quarter of an hour, a microcosm of what would unfold shortly after 5pm.

Three Milford players would stand opposite three of their teammates, ten yards or so apart. The whistle sounded and the three in possession sought to manoeuvre past their opposite numbers using nothing but sheer brute force and strength. Once enemy lines were breached, they were required to turn on their heels and find a way back.

Instead of conserving energy for the hour ahead, Anna Geary was seen tearing into Regina Curtin, while Elaine O’Riordan and Maria Walsh were less than polite in confronting the Watson sisters. It was truly remarkable stuff.

There and then, Milford’s savage intensity was demonstrated and it certainly didn’t end with their warm-up preparations as the winner’s completely outgunned Killimor in all facets of play.

The six-point defeat represented a disappointing conclusion to the championship campaign for Killimor whose flame had burned very brightly when securing victories over Sarsfields and O’Donovan Rossa, but when the pressure came on during Saturday’s decider their attack just lacked that added level of flair and inventiveness to see them over the line.

To say that Killimor simply underperformed though is an injustice to a Milford outfit that exhibited an exciting brand of camogie, funnelling back their half-forwards to negate the threat of Killimor’s midfield partnership. As one observer remarked, Killimor were cleaned out in the one area they are normally so dominant. Put simply, Tommy Callagy’s troops were never allowed develop any sort of rhythm in the face of Milford’s unrelenting intensity.

Brenda Hanney and Martina Conroy were the two Killimor hit women that Milford had identified as the main threat to their defensive fortress and wing-back Maria Walsh headed straight to the edge of the square to marshal Hanney, while the excellent Anna Geary lived, successfully, in Conroy’s shadow throughout.

The other main foundation stone of the Milford structure was the pace at which they moved the sliotar from defence to attack. Over the course of the hour they just had that yard of pace to take them clear of danger with the player in possession never short of support.

For all that, it was Killimor who enjoyed the upper hand in the early passages, but all they had to show for it after 18 minutes was three Martina Conroy placed ball efforts. Milford fared little better managing only a solitary point through Emer Watson and the low-scoring nature of the opening period was largely due to the outstanding work-rate of both defensive units– Ann Marie Hayes and Niamh Hanney particularly impressive for Killimor.

Milford’s early lethargy eventually subsided and when their challenge erupted to life in the 19th minute, the damage inflicted would prove irreversible. Marie O’Neill, with a visionary pass, played through Deidre O’Reilly and the centre-forward met the sliotar on the hop, driving it high to the roof of Helen Campbell’s goal.

Scarcely another minute had elapsed when Milford pounced again. Emer Watson’s probing delivery was batted by Helen Campbell straight into the path of Maria Watson and though Campbell repelled the corner forward’s initial effort, the ‘keeper was powerless to keep out the rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Hibs crash out of Connacht Junior Cup but Mervue United advance

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Loughrea produced a terrific finale in Bohermore on Sunday as the Second Division side came from behind to shock Hibernians as they advanced to a last eight meeting with neighbours Ballinasloe Town in the Connacht Junior Cup.

Mervue United were the other local winners as Oughterard and NUI Galway exited at the last 16 stage.

Goalkeepers Daragh Geraghty and Aaron Connolly provided all the heroics as Corrib Rangers eventually saw off West United on penalties in the Michael Byrne Cup, while Knocknacarra custodian Leigh Ralph was equally athletic as his side also defeated St Patrick’s in a spot kick contest.

CONNACHT JUNIOR CUP

Despite hitting a post in a wind-assisted opening half, Hibernians failed to build on that first-half dominance and when their turn came in the second half Loughrea were more clinical as they secured a shock 2-1 away win.

Tommy Donovan fired the home side ahead just after the restart, but the visitors levelled matters pretty quickly as Gavin Shaughnessy got at the end of a Gary Madden flick to shoot home. Leading scorer Darren Creaven secured the late winner as Loughrea pulled off the result of the round.

Mervue United generally dominated proceedings for the duration of their contest with Shiven Rovers in Newbridge on Friday night, but still just prevailed by a just a slender 1-0 margin.

The winner on 16 minutes came from the good work of Adam Lee, who broke in from the flank before firing in a shot that was blocked. However he continued to follow up as he blasted home from inside the box.

The visitors continue to create all the chances as Paul Sinnott was denied by a smashing save, while the midfielder also had another effort blocked. Brian Meaney had a few half-chances, as the visitors provided the majority of the attaching threat throughout.

Mervue United will host Iorras Aontaithe in the quarter-finals after the Belmullet-based side defeated Oughterard 4-0, and they will certainly prove to be difficult opponents for Gary O’Connor’s side.

Two down at the break away to Sligo side City United, NUI Galway threatened a comeback as Ger Cheevers pulled one back, while a terrific save denied the winger a second, but it was all in vain as the home side converted again in the final minutes for a 3-1 victory.

Goals in each half by Alan Duffy and Mike Graney gave Ballinasloe Town a 2-0 win over Colmanstown, while the holders Westport United were comfortable 4-0 winners over Strand Celtic.

The quarter-final draw sees Mervue host Iorras Aontaithe; Corrib Rangers will be at home to the winners of the outstanding West United/Castlebar Celtic game; Loughrea host Ballinasloe Town; and Westport will host City United.

In the Connacht Shield, Cregmore are the Galway League’s lone remaining representatives following a 4-3 shoot out win over Mulranny United. The sides were level at 2-2 following extra time, with Harry Connolly and Davie Tarpey on the mark for the home side.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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