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No where to hide as senior hurling title race resumes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 10-Oct-2012


AFTER a progressive Summer on the inter-county scene, the Salthill Hotel senior hurling championship resumes with some exciting quarter-final fixtures down for decision this weekend.

To the fore has to be the meeting of Loughrea and Mullagh at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe on Saturday (3pm). Aside from the fact that there is quality in both sides, this will be the first championship meeting between them since their controversial semi-final joust in 2009.

On that occasion, Mullagh lost by a point after referee Christy Helebert adjudged that full-back Alan Gaynor had thrown the ball as he broke his way out of defence. Ironically, many spectators felt he had been fouled as he gathered possession and was entitled to a free out.

The fall-out in the aftermath of that game – Helebert was subsequently abused and accosted after the final whistle – caused untold acrimony in local GAA circles and against such a backdrop, the two sides will meet again this Saturday.

In any event, Mullagh will be hoping to shed their ‘bridesmaid’ tag having qualified for the knockout stages seven times – with the exception of 2008 when they found themselves in relegation – since 2005.

Of their previous six quarter-final appearances, they have won just two and, to add further intrigue to their impending quarter-final showdown with Loughrea, it was the Town who defeated them in both of those semi-finals.

In the other quarter-final at Duggan Park on Saturday, holders Gort will be favoured to edge beyond Padraig Pearses, who really should have accounted for the county champions when they met in the group stages earlier in the campaign.

Elsewhere, City outfit Castlegar have a difficult assignment against a star-studded St. Thomas’ side when they meet at Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday (3pm). This is the curtain-raiser to the Portumna and Turloughmore clash at 4:30pm and this, potentially, should also be a rousing affair.

There is also action in the intermediate hurling championship as Kilconieron and Killimordaly meet in the first of two quarter-finals in Loughrea on Sunday (12noon). 2011 intermediate league champions Rahoon/Newcastle clash with Killimor in the other equally attractive quarter-final fixture at the same venue at 1:30pm.


Loughrea v Mullagh

(Duggan Park, Ballinasloe) 3pm

Although Loughrea full-back Damien McClearn has been nursing a back injury – an ailment which sidelined him earlier in the Summer – manager Eamonn Kelly is hopeful of having a full complement of players for this mouth-watering showdown.

So far in the championship, Loughrea have been impressive, recording victories over Athenry in the opening round and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry and Athenry, again, in the group stages. They drew with St. Thomas’ in their final group game.

To the fore, as always, have been Johnny Maher, Johnny Coen and Johnny O’Loughlin, with Maher – who has tallied 2-24 to date – causing opposition defences all sorts of problems with his physical presence.

As for Mullagh, they well and truly put their opening round defeat to Craughwell behind them when accounting for Clarinbridge in their subsequent outing before coming through an extremely tough group which included Turloughmore, Sarsfields and Beagh.

One of the reasons for this has been the form of such players like Niall Cahalan, Finian Coone, David Glennon, Conor Dervan and Donal Reilly, all of whom have posted credible championship totals to date, and this form was further underlined when Mullagh claimed the prestigious Kilmacud Crokes Sevens title last month.

Mullagh boss Paul Finnerty, who says their controversial 2010 semi-final defeat to Loughrea has been put well and truly behind them, has injury worries over Derek Hardiman (hamstring) and Reilly (AC joint) but he can welcome back Alan Whyte after he recovered from a serious knee injury that threatened to keep him out for the year.

This, for many, is the game of the weekend and is extremely close to call. Loughrea, though, get a hesitant vote. Verdict: Loughrea.

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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Killimor unable to cope with MilfordÕs pace and intensity

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

Milford 3-6

Killimor 1-6

Eoghan Cormican at Croke Park

FOR those who arrived early into Croke Park for this All-Ireland senior club camogie final, the warning signs from a Killimor perspective were frighteningly evident for all to see.

The Cork champions had set-up base towards the Hill 16 end where a savage warm-up drill played out for the guts of a quarter of an hour, a microcosm of what would unfold shortly after 5pm.

Three Milford players would stand opposite three of their teammates, ten yards or so apart. The whistle sounded and the three in possession sought to manoeuvre past their opposite numbers using nothing but sheer brute force and strength. Once enemy lines were breached, they were required to turn on their heels and find a way back.

Instead of conserving energy for the hour ahead, Anna Geary was seen tearing into Regina Curtin, while Elaine O’Riordan and Maria Walsh were less than polite in confronting the Watson sisters. It was truly remarkable stuff.

There and then, Milford’s savage intensity was demonstrated and it certainly didn’t end with their warm-up preparations as the winner’s completely outgunned Killimor in all facets of play.

The six-point defeat represented a disappointing conclusion to the championship campaign for Killimor whose flame had burned very brightly when securing victories over Sarsfields and O’Donovan Rossa, but when the pressure came on during Saturday’s decider their attack just lacked that added level of flair and inventiveness to see them over the line.

To say that Killimor simply underperformed though is an injustice to a Milford outfit that exhibited an exciting brand of camogie, funnelling back their half-forwards to negate the threat of Killimor’s midfield partnership. As one observer remarked, Killimor were cleaned out in the one area they are normally so dominant. Put simply, Tommy Callagy’s troops were never allowed develop any sort of rhythm in the face of Milford’s unrelenting intensity.

Brenda Hanney and Martina Conroy were the two Killimor hit women that Milford had identified as the main threat to their defensive fortress and wing-back Maria Walsh headed straight to the edge of the square to marshal Hanney, while the excellent Anna Geary lived, successfully, in Conroy’s shadow throughout.

The other main foundation stone of the Milford structure was the pace at which they moved the sliotar from defence to attack. Over the course of the hour they just had that yard of pace to take them clear of danger with the player in possession never short of support.

For all that, it was Killimor who enjoyed the upper hand in the early passages, but all they had to show for it after 18 minutes was three Martina Conroy placed ball efforts. Milford fared little better managing only a solitary point through Emer Watson and the low-scoring nature of the opening period was largely due to the outstanding work-rate of both defensive units– Ann Marie Hayes and Niamh Hanney particularly impressive for Killimor.

Milford’s early lethargy eventually subsided and when their challenge erupted to life in the 19th minute, the damage inflicted would prove irreversible. Marie O’Neill, with a visionary pass, played through Deidre O’Reilly and the centre-forward met the sliotar on the hop, driving it high to the roof of Helen Campbell’s goal.

Scarcely another minute had elapsed when Milford pounced again. Emer Watson’s probing delivery was batted by Helen Campbell straight into the path of Maria Watson and though Campbell repelled the corner forward’s initial effort, the ‘keeper was powerless to keep out the rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Hibs crash out of Connacht Junior Cup but Mervue United advance

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Loughrea produced a terrific finale in Bohermore on Sunday as the Second Division side came from behind to shock Hibernians as they advanced to a last eight meeting with neighbours Ballinasloe Town in the Connacht Junior Cup.

Mervue United were the other local winners as Oughterard and NUI Galway exited at the last 16 stage.

Goalkeepers Daragh Geraghty and Aaron Connolly provided all the heroics as Corrib Rangers eventually saw off West United on penalties in the Michael Byrne Cup, while Knocknacarra custodian Leigh Ralph was equally athletic as his side also defeated St Patrick’s in a spot kick contest.


Despite hitting a post in a wind-assisted opening half, Hibernians failed to build on that first-half dominance and when their turn came in the second half Loughrea were more clinical as they secured a shock 2-1 away win.

Tommy Donovan fired the home side ahead just after the restart, but the visitors levelled matters pretty quickly as Gavin Shaughnessy got at the end of a Gary Madden flick to shoot home. Leading scorer Darren Creaven secured the late winner as Loughrea pulled off the result of the round.

Mervue United generally dominated proceedings for the duration of their contest with Shiven Rovers in Newbridge on Friday night, but still just prevailed by a just a slender 1-0 margin.

The winner on 16 minutes came from the good work of Adam Lee, who broke in from the flank before firing in a shot that was blocked. However he continued to follow up as he blasted home from inside the box.

The visitors continue to create all the chances as Paul Sinnott was denied by a smashing save, while the midfielder also had another effort blocked. Brian Meaney had a few half-chances, as the visitors provided the majority of the attaching threat throughout.

Mervue United will host Iorras Aontaithe in the quarter-finals after the Belmullet-based side defeated Oughterard 4-0, and they will certainly prove to be difficult opponents for Gary O’Connor’s side.

Two down at the break away to Sligo side City United, NUI Galway threatened a comeback as Ger Cheevers pulled one back, while a terrific save denied the winger a second, but it was all in vain as the home side converted again in the final minutes for a 3-1 victory.

Goals in each half by Alan Duffy and Mike Graney gave Ballinasloe Town a 2-0 win over Colmanstown, while the holders Westport United were comfortable 4-0 winners over Strand Celtic.

The quarter-final draw sees Mervue host Iorras Aontaithe; Corrib Rangers will be at home to the winners of the outstanding West United/Castlebar Celtic game; Loughrea host Ballinasloe Town; and Westport will host City United.

In the Connacht Shield, Cregmore are the Galway League’s lone remaining representatives following a 4-3 shoot out win over Mulranny United. The sides were level at 2-2 following extra time, with Harry Connolly and Davie Tarpey on the mark for the home side.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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