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Mulholland has something stirring in Galway football

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Date Published: 24-May-2012

 THE first tangible signs that something might be stirring in Galway football in 2012 came in the county’s concluding National League encounter against Kildare in April at Pearse Stadium. That was a high stakes match and though the Tribesmen didn’t get what they were looking for – a place in the Division Two final and a shot at promotion –they were the moral victors against the Lilywhites who are generally regarded as the biggest threat to Kerry, Cork and Dublin in the All-Ireland championship.

Something happened that day which indicated that Galway had the capacity to step up markedly on recent undistinguished championship campaigns. They had looked in grave trouble at the interval when trailing by four points having played with the wind, but the home team were so transformed on the resumption that Johnny Doyle had to net an injury time penalty for Kildare to salvage a draw.

New team manager Alan Mulholland would naturally have been disappointed with the result in the immediate aftermath of that contest, but he could have no complaints about the quality second-half performance which often had Kildare chasing shadows.

Galway had been in a hole at half-time, yet the players showed no shortage of resolve and commitment – characteristics which have been in short supply over the past few seasons – in turning the match around.

Curiously, against that background, there was nearly more hype about Roscommon in the build up to last Sunday’s Connacht first round collision at Hyde Park. Some pundits actually tipped Des Newtown’s squad to win and most neutrals anticipated that they would at least provide Galway with a searching examination.

Under-age football in the county was vibrant and their U-21s had lost to Dublin with a great deal of honour in the recent All-Ireland final.

Furthermore, Roscommon are generally rugged opponents and in front of their home supporters, they were expected to tear into the men in maroon. Ultimately, however, they proved a massive let-down in collapsing to a 14 point defeat.

Their traditional fire was conspicuous by its absence; they lacked Galway’s conditioning and fluency; and committed a string of unforced errors which ensured the match was well and truly over by half-time.

Frankly, Roscommon were a shambles and with heavy hitters up front, Senan Kilbride and the disappointing Donal Shine making little impact, it’s no wonder they failed to emerge from Division Three league football this spring.

Only substitute David O’Gara and centre forward, Cathal Cregg, for a brief spell coming up to half-time, made any real headway on a chastening day for Roscommon football in front of a somewhat disappointing crowd of less than 13,000.

Though it’s against the opposition’s poverty we have to measure this vibrant Galway display, it was still a hugely encouraging effort from the province’s most successful county. Their direct tactics on the day served the team well, while the general cohesiveness and movement around the field made Roscommon appear out of their depth for long stretches. There was no shortage of energy either with Man of the Match Paul Conroy certainly adding to a growing reputation in causing havoc at full forward.

Conroy not alone finished the game with 1-4 to his credit, he also delivered the vital pass for Mark O’Hehir’s expertly taken 11th minute goal and repeatedly underlined his ability to secure primary possession. Galway have been lacking a consistent target man up front for a long time, but the talented St. James’ player is certainly giving them a new dimension on a day defender Gareth Bradshaw, typically, advanced to pick off a couple of points, and Michael Meehan underlined what the team has been missing over the past two to three years.

In fact, Meehan’s introduction and his subsequent vitality was arguably the most heart-warming feature of Galway’s demolition job. The Caltra clubman has been to hell and back in admirably trying to get the better of a career-threatening ankle injury, and though lesser men would have thrown in the towel, he bravely soldiered through many dark days and, hopefully, will now be able to resurrect what had been a great career.

The big challenge for Mulholland now is to keep expectations in check. Supporters will naturally be talking up Galway over the coming weeks, but caution is advised given how bad Roscommon were. Sure, it was a most heartening effort, will prove a huge lift to the squad’s confidence and bodes well for the stiffer tests coming down the road, but the players surely need no reminding that routing what, after all was a Division Three outfit, must be kept in perspective.

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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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