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No Doubting Thomases are left in Galway now

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 20-Mar-2013

IT’S no accident that St. Thomas’ are where they are this week – basking in the glory of just being crowned the best club hurling team in the land – as it wasn’t just talent alone which propelled the Galway champions to an historic achievement. They also possessed an admirable single-mindedness and absolute dedication in pursuit of their objectives.

Last year four of the squad, Cathal Burke, Patrick Skehill, James Regan and Cian Kelly all turned 21, but there were no parties or celebrations until a combined event was staged over the Christmas, as reported by the Sunday Times over the weekend. That’s extraordinary commitment by any standards and underlines the maturity which runs through a largely young team.

In becoming the seventh Galway club to lift the Tommy Moore Cup, St. Thomas’ broke new ground in becoming the first of them to go the whole way in their debut season at this level and though Sunday’s hard-earned success over a gallant Kilcormac-Killoughey wasn’t as swashbuckling as a couple of Portumna’s Croke Park victories, it won’t matter a whit to the proud people of Kilchreest and Peterswell this week.

Having got no help from referee John Sexton for nearly 50 minutes of an earnest struggle fought out in difficult conditions, the Cork official gave them plenty of help from there to the finish by controversially dismissing Kilcormac midfielders Killian Leonard and Damien Kilmartin. Both decisions were harsh and left the Offaly champions seriously handicapped in the closing stages after the teams had been tied at 1-9 each when the referee started brandishing red cards.

Of course, it doesn’t really matter now what would have happened if Kilcormac had finished with 15 players, but it is fair to speculate that there was no guarantee St. Thomas’ would have gone on to carry the day, although they had survived a mini-crisis in the third quarter. Leading by two points at the interval, Robert Murray and his team-mates struggled on the resumption and conceded four unanswered points to fall 1-11 to 1-9 behind.

St. Thomas’ were clearly rattled and with the heavy rain more disadvantageous to their brand of slick hurling, they were struggling to create the necessary space and openings against dogged opponents. They needed someone to display leadership in their hour of need and into that breach stepped former county player, the influential Richie Murray, to land equalising points while Kilcormac still had a full complement of players.

With young substitute Eanna Burke effectively swooping on breaking ball around his own half-back line, St. Thomas’ had no shortage of possession or territory down the home stretch, but their wayward shooting – 14 wides in total – continued to make life difficult for them until Conor Cooney landed the match-winning scores from out the field after intelligent lay-offs from Sean Skehill, one of the heroes of the club’s unforgettable season, and Eanna Burke respectively. The better hurling team had pulled it off, but St. Thomas’ also had to show courage and resilience against under-rated Kilcormac.

Sometimes, people forget how difficult it is for a young team to keep their focus when they are strong favourites to win an All-Ireland title and their opponents lose one of their best players, the injured Daniel Currams, days before the big match. Everything appeared to be falling in their favour and they also had to contend with all the loose talk around about the result being nearly a formality.

It is to St. Thomas’ credit that they didn’t get ahead of themselves against that background and though the team wasn’t at its best in Croke Park last Sunday, they still got the job done. It represents an extraordinary achievement and great credit is due to their management team of John Burke, Justin Flannery, Jimmy Kelly and Dinny Cahill for masterminding a glorious campaign.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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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