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New Galway boxing club packs a punch



Date Published: 11-Sep-2009

IF you could bottle the enthusiasm shown by the committee members who have formed Galway’s newest boxing club, St. Pat’s Tribes Boxing Academy, and sell it, you wouldn’t be long turning this depressing recession around.
Simply, zeal and positivity are just two of the characteristics which define the fledgling club, which was founded by a group of concerned Traveller parents who wished to provide a sporting outlet for their offspring in July of this year.
They subsequently set in motion a train of events leading to the structuring of a boxing club, holding an AGM, at which the relevant positions at the club were filled. Among them was the appointment of Bernie Ward as Chairman.
Standing in the centre of their new sporting home, located at Liosban Industrial Estate, Ward insists the emphasis of the club is primarily on developing the youth. “It is a boxing academy, a school of learning, where they can learn about discipline, self defence, self control and self confidence. So, it is a school of learning and education,” reiterates the Chairman, who won an Irish boxing title himself when he was just 14 years of age.
Having fought notable competitors such as Joe Christle, from the famous Christle boxing family, in his prime, Ward is an astute observer of the sport. He started off on his own boxing career in Tuam, subsequently trained out of St. Pat’s in Galway, before going to England to compete. It is this experience, Ward and a number of other highly qualified coaches will bring to the new club.
“I have a nephew, John Ward, who is also involved. He is head coach. Then, there would be Michael Ward, who is another highly qualified coach as well,” says the Chairman.
Indeed, if one was to work on the premise that knowledge is power, then the boxing club has a bright future ahead of it. In addition to the two Wards, Pat McDonagh is another highly qualified tutor, while the likes of committee members and trainers Jim Sweeney, Derek Ward, David Nash, Paul Ward, David Sweeney and Eddie Sweeney also have a keen insight into and passion for the sport.
The proof is in the pudding, with many of the youngsters already showing a great deal of potential. “The quality so far is looking good. The young lads are showing great potential,” beams the chairman. “We are only a couple of weeks open, but they are learning very fast. That is down to good coaching, the fact that they are coming on rapidly.”
Again, Ward stresses an outlet like St. Pat’s Tribes Boxing Academy is vital to the youth in the area. “There is too much out there on the streets, be it underage drinking, binge drinking, drugs or what have you. There is too much of that. So, we are trying to teach them to have discipline in their lives.”
This is a sentiment echoed by his son, Patrick, who is also PRO of the club. He says it is imperative that the club helps, in some ways, to address some of the ills blighting the youth of the country.
“We have two members going to do a community drugs education course, a training course, to help the kids coming in. To keep them away from drink and drugs and keep them on the right track.
“We already have a child protection officer in the club and we would hope that many more adult members would to that course as well. All children are supervised at all times and we will have six or seven coaches and trainers on the floor on the night. We have also members who have attended first aid and health and safety courses, so we have all covered.”
Affiliated to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), Bernie and Patrick stress that the club is run completely on a voluntary basis, and is a non profit entity. “This academy was created to give young boys, and girls, a safe place to be after school hours,” continues Patrick.
“Our members learn the skills and dedication they need for boxing while also improving their physical fitness. We aim to build an environment to train, where all ages can learn the art of boxing as well as increasing their self confidence, controlling their discipline and working towards a healthy body.
“This club is not about coming in and knocking people’s heads off. They are taught the basics and fundamentals before they are put in any ring and they are not put in any ring before the coaches and committee are happy with their progress. So, there is no danger to any of the kids. When they are ready for it, we will put them in.”
With 75 members, half of which are children, signing up to the club, St. Pat’s Tribes also has a thriving adult section. One of those to come on board is Eamonn Cunniss, who has also taken on the mantle of club secretary.
“The lads had come to me and asked would I give them a hand,” outlines Cunniss. “I saw there was an opening for this in the City, so I joined. I know nothing about boxing, but I have come in and I am learning about it.
“I would say the club cares about getting young lads off the streets and providing them with facilities. We have great coaches, we have a great team, and we have 12 people on the committee who work very, very hard.”
Bernie and Patrick agree, with the latter adding: “It is not down to just one person, the success has been down to the 12 members on the committee who have done the work. We haven’t been relying on just one person. Everyone has done the equal amount of work.”
Also highlighting the contribution of carpenter Danny Collins, who has done 90% of the work on the facility on a voluntary basis, the committee members aim to have all completed by the official opening on Tuesday, October 6. Beginning at 7:30 pm, a host of special guests will be in attendance on the evening, including professional heavyweight boxer Declan Timlin.
“Ultimately, our aim is to become one of the top clubs in the county and churn out Irish champions in the future. We are building this club from the ground up. We got no grants, no nothing, and any funding we got came from local businesses who donated towards the cause. We also got local sponsorship while the committee also put money towards the club,” says Patrick. “We would stress, though, that this is a youth development club. It is for the community – not only in Galway City but also the county.
“We would hope to have 10 boxers competing at the county championships next February. We do have an Irish champion in the club at the moment, Wayne Ward, who has come to us from another club. His father, John, was a trainer at that club and he has now also come to ours. We are hoping Wayne will defend and retain his Irish title this year.”
St. Pat’s Tribes Boxing Academy runs Monday to Friday, with older children and adults working out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and younger children (6 +) training on Tuesday and Thursday, nightly 7–9pm. For further information contact club secretary Eamonn Cunniss at 085-1440947 or email stpatstribesboxing

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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