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O’Flatharta fields new faces



Date Published: 06-Jan-2011

IT might still be the depths of mid-Winter but when January arrives the call of the Gaelic fields looms and next Sunday, Galway footballers make the trek to Enniscrone (2pm) for the first round of the Connacht FBD league against Sligo.


Galway will be fielding a team with a scattering of new names due to a combination of injuries and third level colleges having first call on players during the month of January.


Tomás Ó Flatharta and his management team of Seán Óg de Paor and Martin McNamara face one tough task in the wake of another demoralising year for Galway in 2010, but in sport, hope does spring eternally, and a lot of homework has gone on behind the scenes over recent months.


The arrival of Kerry Gaeltacht man Ó Flatharta has been in stark contrast to the unveiling of Joe Kernan in September, 2009. The Kerry man has kept a very low profile, slipping quietly into his job, and that approach will be to his advantage as he faces the challenges ahead.


He refuses to be drawn on any goals for the season such as the first game of the league, survival in Division One or the regaining of the Connacht title.


“We have a target of improving every day we go out, whether that be a training session, a challenge match, an FBD game, a league match or the championship. Every day we want to improve a little bit – that’s our goal,” Tomás Ó Flatharta told Tribune Sport.


His whole ethos of spreading around the responsibility has been reflected in the decision announced this week to split the captaincy three ways between Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald, Caltra’s Michael Meehan and Salthill-Knocknacarra’s Finian Hanley. He believes this decision will emphasise the importance of the team approach, rather than the individual focus.


Next Sunday, Galway will be without the likes of Michael Meehan, Padraic Joyce, Gareth Bradshaw, Kieran Fitzgerald, Paul Conroy and Adrian Faherty to mention but a few of the absentees, although the fervent hope is that by the first weekend in February, nearly all of those players will be back in action.


“We have been in contact with a lot of players over the course of the past couple of months and a game like this on Sunday will give us the opportunity to give some new players a chance to play on the county stage. That has to be a good thing,” said Tomás Ó Flatharta.


On the injury front, Michael Meehan had an operation on the ankle injury he suffered in Galway’s ill fated championship replay against Sligo last summer – he is currently on holiday in Australia and his injury is reported to be coming on well.


Padraic Joyce is out with back trouble, Kieran Fitzgerald is bothered by a hamstring problem, while third level college commitments – both inside and outside the province – rule out about a dozen players.


Without fail, a small band of Galway footballers will make the trip to Enniscrone on Sunday with most interest on the starting line-up which will invariably feature a fair sprinkling of players wearing the senior county jersey for the first time.


It won’t be a day of high expectations or bluster for the maroon faithful who journey to the North-West but they’ll just be hoping to see a new face or two emerging from the sea mists of Enniscrone before the cuckoo comes and the waft of the championship fills the air when the days get long.


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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