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.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Sinnott hat-trick keeps Mervue Utd top of the Premier Division
Date Published: 18-Mar-2013
Paul Sinnott notched Mervue United’s first goal of the season back in August and the cultured midfielder hasn’t stopped scoring since as his hat-trick on Saturday made it 13 for the season as the Western Hygiene Supplies Premier Division leaders maintained their top spot with a one sided 5-0 win over an under-strength OLBC.
At Drom, second placed Corrib Rangers had it easier than the 3-2 margin suggests against Salthill Devon, while the students of NUI Galway eased their relegation worries a little with a comfortable 3-0 away win over Hibernians.
Corrib Rangers 3
Salthill Devon 2
Despite home custodian Juline Yaho having an absolute blinder, goals from Paul Scally(2) and David Goldbey that sealed this win for Rangers as they kept the pressure on Mervue in the challenge for honours.
That it took the visitors until the 33rd minute to make a breakthrough was solely down to the ability of Yaho to be in the right place at the right time, as a series of reflex saves was to thwart Rangers.
Controlling the early exchanges, Goldbey flashed a Moran cross off the crossbar and then returned the rebound at Yaho. The custodian then proceeded to frustrate Dave Smith and Scally with more close range saves, before outstanding central defender Enda Cullen produced one of many goal saving blocks in the penalty area.
The life saving of Yaho and Cullen could not continue and two set-piece goals before the break eventually gave Rangers a merited 2-0 advantage.
A Simon Walsh free-kick in the 33rd minute was met by the head of Scally. Walsh was again the provider on 45 minutes as Goldbey powered in another header following a left wing corner.
Despite the general Rangers barrage, the home side had their moments and opportunities. Tommy Bradshaw brought an early save from Geraghty, before a sloppy misplaced Walsh pass released Enda Dunne from half-way, but his terrific strike rebounded off a post.
Devon certainly made a quick impact on the resumption as Dunne clattered the woodwork once more from a free kick outside the box on 51 minutes, but were rewarded when Gus Ademoye finished the rebound to make it 2-1.
Rangers responded when Scally tapped home his second on 62 minutes and Jason Smith was denied a reward when smashing an effort off the crossbar.
Devon could just find a late Greg Sheedy goal as a reward and with just four games left in their campaign, they are running out of time in order to preserve their top-flight status.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Festival whets the appetite for new food experiences
Date Published: 21-Mar-2013
I know it’s hard to believe, but there are well-grounded, consistent reports in recent weeks that Fianna Fáil nationally has been receiving a large number of new applications for membership of the party.
When I heard it first, I thought to myself – sounds like new recruits to join the crew of the Titanic. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if they knew something that the rest of us didn’t.
For, FF showed a bounce in two recent opinion polls. And then George Lee did his walkout from Fine Gael, leaving FG and Enda Kenny to watch anxiously in the coming months as further polls come in, and the Kenny leadership comes under renewed pressure.
Fine Gael is still well ahead in the polls, but you write off FF at your peril. The old Fianna Fáil ‘faith’ still runs deep even among many of those who are now angry at the way the country was allowed to run on to the economic rocks under FF stewardship.
On the face of it, it sounds like FF shouldn’t be an even vaguely attractive prospect for new members . . . you can be damn sure that FF unpopularity was one of the main reasons that Galway West TD Noel Grealish (formerly of the PDs and now Independent) wouldn’t touch joining the FF Parliamentary Party with a barge pole and has been flexing his political muscle in recent months as an Independent.
That’s despite FF Ministers Eamon Ó Cuív and Noel Dempsey courting Grealish for months to join FF, with even speculation of a junior ministry ‘sweetener’ at some stage when Brian Cowen eventually carries out that long-threatened reshuffle.
Wonder if Grealish would reconsider now? For there’s no denying that in recent weeks in FF there has been a sneaking dawning feeling that, if they could just hold off the General Election until 2012, then maybe – just maybe! – at least their bedrock support might have come back by then and the massacre of FF TDs might not be quite as bloody as has been predicted for the past year.
Why, some FFrs believe they might even have enough TDs left to cosy-up to the Labour Party. That’s provided of course they can hold out to 2012 and their government partners, the Greens, don’t tear themselves apart in the meantime with their habit of washing dirty linen in public.
People like Grealish would have been hoping that some of the FF voters might go for the ‘first cousin’ in the shape of a former PD like himself – well weren’t the PDs just a family row in FF? The big test for angry or wavering FF supporters on election day in a place like Galway West would be just how many of them would vote Fine Gael? I have always been of the belief that ‘the hand would wither’ before they could give ‘the blueshirts’ a vote.
Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, the pressure has transferred to Fine Gael. They are the ones who now have to worry about any slippage in support, they have convince us that they could run the economy better . . . and against this shaky new background, they also have to worry about ‘upping their game’ in key areas like Galway West.
One of the most recent opinion polls showed the highest regional level of support for Fine Gael as being in Connacht-Ulster, which was traditionally the area which Fianna Fáil could count on as heartland. That has to be ‘the Enda Kenny factor’ coming through in constituencies close to his Mayo base, where FG had a huge 53% of the first preferences in 2007.
For more, read page 12 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.