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Pedalling his way to the top of demanding sport



Date Published: 22-Nov-2012

ONE of the most prominent cyclists on the Irish scene over the past year has been Ballinakill teenager Thomas Fallon. Apart from winning the Connacht junior road race, time trial and hill climb championships, he has also featured prominently on the Irish team that competed at the European Juniors last Summer.

With cycling undergoing a renaissance in Ireland at present, there appears to be a plethora of aspiring juniors with the potential of making the step-up to the elite grade over the coming years. And one of those is Fallon.

This year alone, the reigning Connacht champion has claimed some notable victories around the country, winning the A3 grade in the Broadford Cycling Pursuits Cup, the Newbridge GP and the Barrow Wheelers GP while also featuring prominently in a myriad of other events.

Fallon also secured a magnificent opening stage win at the Charleville Park Hotel Two-Day in early September. Unfortunately, without the support of a team, the Mercy College Woodford Leaving Cert. student was unable to retain the yellow jersey as another junior rider, Dylan Foley – backed by a team of riders – went on to win the overall event.

Fallon’s impressive run of placings has seen him rise to the fore of Irish junior cycling and he is now as much a real prospect for the future as Ryan Mullen – the Planet X cyclist who, this Summer, secured a silver medal at the European Time Trial Championships in Holland before finishing a creditable ninth at the World Championships.

For his part, Fallon, as a first-year junior, proved his mettle on the international stage when finishing alongside Mullen in the road race discipline of the Europeans. It was a solid showing for the teenager, who was also first reserve on the Irish team for the Worlds, building on a number of other races he had taken part in on the Continent in the run-in to the championships.

This included a strong display at the demanding UCI 2.1 Neidersachen Rundfarth event in Germany. While other riders were being dropped – some failing to qualify for the next stage in the multi-event – Fallon showed he could mix it with the very best by riding brilliantly to cover the breaks and keep Mullen, the best placed Irish rider, in contention.

He backed this up with a 15th placed finish at an event at the Ronde Van Zundurt before then producing another solid performance with team-mates Cormac Clarke, Mullen and Jack Sadler at the Europeans.

No doubt, rubbing shoulders with some of the top juniors in the world is a far cry from Fallon’s days of those leisure spins as a 10-year-old boy with his father Joe, who, he says, has cultivated this love of cycling.

“When he was at it, we thought he was big into it . . . until we realised what big into it was!” laughs Fallon. “I don’t think he (father) ever raced really; it was all leisure spins. I started to go out with him when I was about 10 and it just took off from there.”

In the ensuing years, he made the step up to youth racing and in his first competitive year Fallon – riding with Wolftrap Cycling Club in Birr, which was the nearest available outlet to him – won the U-16 Leinster Youth title and crowned a remarkable year by taking second overall in the U-15 National Youth Championships in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone in 2010.

His achievement secured his place on the Irish 2020 Talent Team, a Cycling Ireland initiative that aims to nurture young talent over the next eight years with the ultimate goal of preparing them to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games.

In July of last year, he formed part of an Irish U-16 team at the Mayo Youth tour, an international two-day classic, and last December the Kylebrack teenager was named Offaly Cycling Sports Person of the Year due to his association with the Wolftrap club.

However, with Seven Springs Cycling founded and established, Fallon, the eldest of three children, made the move earlier this year to the Loughrea-based club – so allowing him to compete and claim the title of junior champion in his own province.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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