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Odds favour ‘old guard’ in hurling semi-finals

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Date Published: 25-Oct-2012

STEPHEN GLENNON

IT speaks volumes for the Galway senior hurling championship that three of the four semi-finalists are unbeaten in the competition to date and that the other, St. Thomas’ only defeat was to reigning county champions Gort, who they will meet again this weekend.

No doubt, the restructured championship has been a real success – the unpreventable lateness of its running aside – and what has really transpired is that the form teams of 2012 have advanced to the penultimate stages of the championship.

Of course, some could make arguments for the inclusion of the likes of Portumna and Mullagh at this stage of the competition, but the fact of the matter is that both were soundly beaten not once but twice this year.

In contrast, defending champions Gort, an ultra consistent Loughrea and a resurgent Turloughmore have all swept through to the closing stages without suffering a defeat while St. Thomas’, who drew with Loughrea in the group stages, have lost only once . . . that to near rivals Gort in the first round.

In any event, there should be nothing between next door neighbours Gort and St. Thomas’ when they line out in the opening semi-final in Athenry on Sunday before Loughrea and Turloughmore meet in what should be an absolutely enthralling encounter at the same venue.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals of the inaugural Senior Shield competition take place this weekend, with Craughwell meeting Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry in Loughrea on Saturday (12noon) and Kinvara and Sarsfields facing off in the other semi-final in Gort on Sunday (11am).

SUNDAY

Gort v St. Thomas’

(Kenny Park, Athenry 1.30pm)

County champions Gort will be without captain and defender Andy Coen after his red card against Padraig Pearses in the quarter-finals but on a more positive note, forwards Gerard Quinn, who missed the Pearses fixture, and Keith Killilea have recovered from hamstring and leg injuries respectively.

Gort and St. Thomas’ are no strangers to each other, given this will be their third meeting in 12 months while they have also been trading similar blows in recent times at U-21 and underage level. “We know each other well,” agrees Gort mentor John Commins.

“We have met in two U-21 finals and played each other in three senior championship matches in the last four years and all of those games have always been very tight. So, there is a healthy rivalry between both sides and both will know this semi-final is a big ask.”

As for St. Thomas’, they must be sick to the back teeth of Gort, particularly after losing last year’s semi-final and this year’s first round tie to the same opposition. “That said, we are confident ourselves,” says manager John Burke. “We know what it is about having been around the last couple of years.

“We are learning every day and I think that if we can get a performance out of the team, then we will take stopping also. I suppose, what I’m saying is that it is all on the day. There has only been a puck of the ball between us any time we have played and we will be hoping we get the nod this time.”

Certainly, St. Thomas’ are more than capable of producing the big performances, although they still have to post that big win. Some may say they did that against Portumna last year, but question marks remain over that result given Andy Smith and Joe Canning were unavailable to Portumna due to suspension on that occasion.

In any event, Sunday is a time for St. Thomas’ to show their maturity – for no longer can the likes of Conor Cooney, James Regan and Bernard Burke be viewed as youthful players with great potential. It’s time for them to wield the experience they have acquired on the inter-county scene to affect the outcome of a ‘big day’ club clash.

Yes, St. Thomas’ are due a breakthrough win – no more so than against Gort – but, in saying that, the title holders will certainly want their say. Gort will, of course, have to fill the huge vacuum left by their suspended spiritual leader Coen but in defenders Mark McMahon, Michael Cummins, Jason Grealish, Brian Regan and Sylvie Óg Linnane, they have the players to do this.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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