Date Published: 29-Jun-2012
NEWLY elected President of the Connacht Rugby Branch, Aidan O’Halloran says it is “phenomenal” how much the professional game in the province has grown in recent years and he believes the province may now be ready to take the next step in its development by becoming a greater force in international club rugby.
On a beautiful morning in Foyle’s Hotel, Clifden, O’Halloran – a former member of Offaly’s legendary All-Ireland winning Gaelic football squad of 1982 – takes time out from his heady detail as manager of the local Bank of Ireland branch to chat about his new role in Connacht rugby.
It’s evident from the off that O’Halloran, father of Connacht winger Tiernan, has a great zest for life – something that became apparent from his own early sporting days. In his youth, he won a coveted Hogan Cup with Carmelite College, Moate – defeating St Jarlath’s College in the 1976 All-Ireland decider – before lifting the Sam Maguire Cup following that iconic moment in 1982 when a late goal from Offaly’s Seamus Darby ended Kerry’s five-in-a-row ambitions.
No surprise, then, that O’Halloran talks fondly of those days – days when he also took to the rugby fields of Leinster where he saw Towns Cup action with Athlone (late 1970s), Tullamore (early to mid ‘80s) and Portlaoise (late ‘80s) before he returned to Tullamore again in the early ‘90s.
Invariably, it was the bank job that conjured up this nomadic existence when it came to his club rugby. In the mid ‘90s, he was on the road again, this time his appointment as assistant manager to the bank in Ballygar, leading him to Creggs RFC in 1996.
“I played for Creggs for the two years they were in the All-Ireland League; it (bank appointment) just happened to coincide with those two years Creggs were in Division 4 of the AIL,” says O’Halloran.
“Unfortunately, their stay in the AIL didn’t last beyond the two years. It was always going to be hard for them with a very small pool of players really and probably an ageing team at that stage, with the likes of Ger and Kieran Dowd, Kevin O’Rourke and Barry Kilcommins.”
During this time, O’Halloran would line out with Creggs on the Saturday and, as he had dual status, with Dunmore on the Sunday.
“I had two years with those clubs and then I was appointed as bank manager in Clifden in 1999, so I moved down here then. The natural progression was to join up with Connemara RFC at that stage.”
Then 40 years of age, the father of three decided it was time to bring the curtain down on his playing career and instead began to turn his hand to both coaching and administrative matters with the Connemara All-Blacks, getting involved with both the U-20s and seniors.
“I suppose our biggest success at senior level (with Connemara) would have been the first year we qualified for the All-Ireland League (Division 3), which was the 2001/’02 season. We had finished fourth in the League, proper, but, at that time, there were semifinals and finals. So, we beat Greystones in the semi-final and we beat Trinity in the Old Lansdowne Road in the final.
“That was a huge event for this area, for a small club in Connemara to be playing in Lansdowne Road. Trinity would also have been a very prominent and strong team at that time and, obviously, so would have been Greystones.
It is great to think, though, that we have managed to maintain our status in the league since then.”
For more see this week’s 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
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.