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Odds favour Elwood taking over from Bradley



Date Published: {J}

HATS off to Connacht. The men in green have certainly turned their fortunes around after their Autumn struggles and Michael Bradley’s announcement that he was stepping down as squad coach at the end of this season’s campaign. Back then, they looked like a team going nowhere and in danger of drifting further into rugby’s backwoods.

We thought at the time that Bradley’s revelation was premature and that it would do nothing for squad morale but, if anything, it has galvanised the Connacht players into giving the former Irish scrum half a worthy send off. The Cork native has been at the Sportsground for seven years and nobody can doubt his commitment or loyalty to the Westerners’ cause during that time.

Initally, Bradley’s announcement that he would be resigning the following Summer appeared very bad timing to say the least given their awful start to their Magners League campaign, but Connacht are now on the brink of reaching the Challenge Cup semi-finals for only the second time after flying through their European pool unbeaten.

That home date with Bourgoin in April has the makings of a great occasion and a full house at the Sportsground is guaranteed.

Remarkably, Connacht have made the quarter-finals as top seeds which would have seemed an outrageous proposition when the group draw paired them against English Premiership outfit Worcester and regular foes, Montpellier.

Frankly, Connacht looked a forlorn bet to squeeze into the last eight, but nobody could have predicted that John Muldoon and company would be the only team with a 100% record after the Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup group campaigns. Those away wins over Worcester, in particular, and Montpellier were outstanding achievements and reflected well on the squad’s pride and resilience given their ongoing struggles in the Magners League.

They had the hard work done before heading off to Spain at the weekend to take on the amateurs from Olympus Madrid, but the team still showed a professional attitude in recording a massive 66-nil victory. This ten-try rout underlined Connacht’s well being with Adrian Flavin (two), Keith Matthews (2), Fionn Carr, Niva Ta’auso, Miah Nikora, Mike McCormish, George Naoupa and Muldoon all taking advantage of the token defensive resistance offered by their hosts.

Now, the onus is on Connacht to replicate their European form in the admittedly more competitive Magners League. They are again in a familiar position – rooted at the bottom of the table – but, in general, have been more competitive so far in avoiding the tonkings which marred previous campaigns. The squad’s stock is rising, they have momentum, but now is the time to carry it through.

Off-the-field, well kind of, there is growing speculation that Bradley’s replacement will be his long-time assistant and former Irish outhalf Eric Elwood. The Galway City man was a great servant to the province as a player and has now surely attained the necessary level of experience to be appointed to the top job. The downside, of course, would be Elwood’s familiarity with the players and, as a consequence, his appointment wouldn’t provide the fresh impetus that an ‘outsider’ would bring.

On the other hand, however, it would sent out a strong message from the Connacht Branch that they have the faith in ‘one of their own’ to mastermind the province’s future campaigns. It’s also reasonable to assume that Elwood would have his own tactical ideas as well as offering a different slant to some of their match preparations. Clearly, Elwood has served his coaching apprenticeship but it remains to be seen if Gerry Kelly and his branch colleagues opt for what would be a popular local appointment.

For more, read page 55 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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