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No stopping St. JamesÕ men



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

THE history books will record 2010 as a watershed year for St. James’ GAA club. Just 16 years after Mervue and Renmore amalgamated, the city club last month achieved what it was set-up to do – secure senior status.

And at the weekend, St James’ followed up that fantastic feat with another historic milestone when they were crowned Connacht champions after winning a thrilling decider against what was a strong and much fancied Strokestown outfit.

In doing so, they kept intact their unbeaten record this year in all competitions; more importantly St. James can now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Munster champions in January and then who knows … possibly a final date with destiny at Croke Park in mid-February.

That’s for another day but for now the St. James’ backroom team and panel will just bask in their latest glory – on Sunday at Tuam Stadium, the Galway champions put the icing on the cake of what has been a remarkable season.

The provincial final itself was rousing stuff. St. James hit the ground running and carved out a 0-8 to 0-1 advantage after 25 minutes by playing awesome football and at half time – though they conceded a late penalty goal through a defensive lapse in concentration – looked a safe bet, leading 0-10 to 1-2 at the turnaround.

Roscommon champions Strokestown came at them in waves after the interval though and were within striking distance of an almighty comeback. But St. James soaked up the pressure, never really panicked and showed an insatiable hunger to win when bouncing back and withstanding the onslaught to finish the stronger.

It’s been a long and hard road back from the bitter defeat to Leitir Mór in last year’s county final, but man-of-the-match Paul Conroy always knew this team had what it takes to recovery and prove themselves on the county and provincial stages.

“Last year was awfully disappointing; we thought we had a great chance going into the county final but in fairness to Leitir Mór they’re a great team and they deserved it. We just dug deeper this year, trained harder and thank god we’re here now – Connacht champions,” a delighted Conroy told Sentinel Sport afterwards.

“We were flying it at the start. We were 0-8 to 0-1 up at one stage, there was no stopping us. The second-half the wind was against us and it seemed to get stronger. Strokestown came back at us and came within one of us and I suppose we were a bit nervous,but thank god we got a point or two then and pulled away.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

See also: St James’ hold their nerve

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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