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



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



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



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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