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Portumna camp keenly aware of Ballyhale threat



Date Published: {J}


THE reigning All-Ireland club champions may have some of the best forwards in the country, but Portumna duo Peter Smith and Ollie Canning acknowledge that their St. Patrick’s Day opponents, Ballyhale Shamrocks, possess an equalling devastating force.

But if you are looking for a hint of fear in either Smith’s or Canning’s eyes, you won’t find it. A miniscule of anger maybe- every great team needs a little rage – but certainly not fear. That was borne out when the two sides met in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final and the Galway champions dissected a favoured Ballyhale side with surgical precision.

“I have been hearing that Ballyhale really fancy themselves,” says Army Officer Smith, “but that doesn’t bother us. We keep our own counsel.

“Ballyhale, no doubt, are a fantastic side; all you have to do is just look at the team on paper. They have county players and All-Stars throughout the team and we are just glad to be in with a chance to contest the final against them. We know we will have to play at our best if we are going to beat them.”

Certainly, the left half-back is a player who seems to be relishing these heady days in the primrose and gold of Portumna. “Sure, a lot of people say it is hard to stay training all year round, but that is what we want to be doing,” smiles the 26-year-old. “It is not really a sacrifice when you get to this stage [of the competition] and you know what you are playing for. To get to a third All-Ireland in a row is a great feat.”

Still, maintaining that insatiable appetite and to continually and consistently deliver top-notch performances in the knockout stages of both the county and All-Ireland series has to sap players, both physically and mentally.

Once again, Smith rebukes this misconception. “My own opinion is that this [burning ambition] comes from the fact that we are such a close club. We really are a very close bunch of lads. We grew up together while the core of this present team comes from two minor sides back in the late 90s. Then, you have mixed in the likes of (Eugene) McEntee and Ollie (Canning), the senior heads there, and a couple of the younger lads like Martin Dolphin and Joe Canning coming through. Every year when we get together, we just want to keep the roll we are on going for as long as we can.”

Indeed, unbeaten in championship action since 2006, the Tommy Moore holders must now lay their distinguished record on the line against a side that only has revenge on the mind. For Portumna, it poses a conundrum. Do they embrace the same game plan which inflicted a 5-11 to 1-16 defeat on their Kilkenny rivals in Spring of 2009? Or do they adopt a different approach?

Smith has his own theory. “Ah look it,” he says. “I am a fairly simple fellow. I look at it if you beat your man, and the 14 other players do the same in their position on the field, well … that’s my game plan. We will leave the mind games up to everyone else. I think if we just work hard and play our intensity game, like we know we can, and we put them under pressure where we know


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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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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