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Pampered stars should remember thereÕs no i(pod) in team

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

An abiding memory of covering inter-provincial rugby match before they got sexy was the sight of the then-Irish international back row Willie Duggan during a Leinster team talk – he was standing on the dressing room bench blowing his cigarette smoke out the window.

You knew Willie was an international because instead of a tracksuit, he was wearing a sheepskin coat over his gear; it kept him warm and it was somewhere for him to keep his twenty fags.

Fast forward to Connacht’s recent clash with Munster at the Sportsground and the sight of two of the visitors warming up beforehand – wearing massive headphones so that they could do their stretches to some hip-hop hero of the working classes.

The embattled Hull City managerial consultant – whatever happened to mere managers? – Iain Dowie is a man who might still believe that headphones are a verb as opposed to a noun in that he may well have practiced his aerial technique by having coin boxes lobbed at him from outside the box.

But the former Northern Ireland striker had a point recently when he claimed that personal stereos were wrecking team spirit because everyone spent the bus journey to matches, just chillin’ and listening to toons.

You see them getting off the bus before a big game, one after another in a world of their own with headphones that a radio DJ would be proud of.

They may look focused but mainly they look disinterested and they are certainly not bonding or thinking about the task in hand.

Of course we don’t need a return to the card schools where fortunes were won and lost at the back of the bus or to drinking schools where players were left with sore heads rather than headphones.

But Dowie hit the nail on the head when he said that this iPod generation leave the ground and go away to their closeted little lives instead of realising what got them to where they are and what impact they can have on the lives of so many others.

If they’re not on the internet or itunes, they’re on the mobile – doing anything other than building team spirit with those around them.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez claimed last week that his squad’s long journey to Madrid actually strengthened team spirit through bonding even though they were beaten at the end of it – but of course after the season they’ve had, introducing themselves to each other would count as progress.

Towards the end of his international career, England defender Gareth Southgate observed that when the squad were together at the end of the day, those sitting round a table having a chat and swapping experiences were the older players. The younger ones had scuttled off to their rooms and their laptops, DVDs, video games and so on.

Current Brazilian coach and former captain Dunga saw the arrival of the mobile phone as a massive blow to team unity; having captained the side that won the 1994 World Cup, he saw their defence fall apart in France – partly because Ronaldo got the runs but also, he believes, because the squad spent all their time talking on the phone.

In 1994 they were almost unheard of in Brazil – but by 1998 all the players had them. And so the outside world was continually allowed in, interfering with the focus of the group, undermining the process by which a team gels and the collective unit becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

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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Archive News

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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Archive News

A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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