Date Published: 02-Jun-2011
IF you asked former Athenry hurler Brian Hanley, three months ago, where did he think he would be on Saturday, June 4, he would more than likely have looked at the GAA calendar and pondered, perhaps, attending Galway hurlers’ Leinster quarter-final tie against either Carlow or Westmeath.
He would never have imagined, though, that he would be leading Westmeath out against the Tribesmen, having been appointed manager of the Lake County just a couple of months ago. Still, by nature, Hanley has always liked to be up close and personal to the action . . . he would gladly swap the comfort of the stand for the cut and thrust of the battlefield any day.
In late spring, Hanley took over as Westmeath boss from former Offaly great Kevin Martin following a disastrous National League Division 2 campaign in which Westmeath failed to record a single league point. “They have been down in their boots this year, partly, I can gather, due to what had transpired between the previous management and players,” says Hanley.
“So, they were at a low ebb and it was a good challenge for me to try and get them back up again. They gave me one ultimatum – one goal – and that was to beat Carlow (in their Leinster championship opener) and take them wherever we could after that. We have done that and now we are ready for the next round.”
Indeed, that 4-10 to 1-14 victory over favourites Carlow has, in many respects, restored some of the pride back into Westmeath hurling. However, the former All-Ireland club winning Athenry midfielder has now the unenviable task of cajoling a competitive display out of the reigning Christy Ring Cup holders when they face his native county at Cusack Park, Mullingar on Saturday evening (7pm).
“I didn’t realise it at the time that Westmeath could be in line to play Galway,” says Hanley. “We have to raise the bar now because, in my opinion, they (Westmeath) are only where they should be. Now, they have to drive on and put in a good performance against Galway and let the result take care of itself.
“Leinster hurling needs Westmeath to play well. Galway hurling needs Westmeath to play well. It is no good for Galway going up to Mullingar and the game being a waste of time. It is no good for me either, to have a team that it is not competitive. I am very, very competitive by nature, so I will be asking them (Westmeath) to go out there expecting to give the performance of their lives. If that takes them over the line, fair enough. If it takes thema within ‘X’ amount of points of Galway, so be it. That is the prize of it.”
No doubt, since Hanley – who is also the current Liam Mellows manager – has taken charge of Westmeath two and a half months ago, he has revitalised the set-up. “Believe it or not, we didn’t train for three weeks when we were starting out again after the Down [National League] game, because their local football and hurling championships were on.
“I told them, you can’t burn them out and they got to respect that decision. So, when I went looking for the players, I got them. I gave them a schedule of dates, venues and times and when I went training, I knew I had 24 to 30 players. We had nine proper training sessions with full squads, and we had three matches with full panels, bar, maybe, the challenge game against Athenry. That, though, set the tone for the championship.”
Hanley’s structured approach has certainly worked, underlined by their Leinster championship victory over a Carlow outfit that continually looks to break new boundaries. “The big thing I did was put a system in place – the same as I did with Liam Mellows this year – in adopting a style and system of play. It is all about trying to get players into positions where you know they can do a job for you. Your best 15 isn’t always necessarily your best 15 hurlers. That is the bottom line.
“So, for us to progress against Galway, we have got to have our own plan and hope that it works. We may even have to stick to it when it is not [working]. We have to be competitive from the first to the last ball, regardless. For the good of the Liam McCarthy championship, we don’t want one-sided games in hurling. And we don’t want to be slated for our performance.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Appeal for information following Portumna crash
Date Published: 08-May-2013
Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.
The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.
Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.
Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.
He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060
President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships
Date Published: 10-May-2013
GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.
It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.
The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.
Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.
The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.
The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.