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Portumna eye historic hat-trick

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Date Published: {J}

STEPHEN GLENNON

Reigning champions Portumna – on an unbeaten championship run of 29 games – make their bid for the unprecedented three-in-a-row of All-Ireland club senior hurling titles when they face Henry Shefflin’s Ballyhale Shamrocks at Croke Park tomorrow (2pm).

Portumna have not tasted defeat since their loss to Loughrea in the 2006 county final, but manager Johnny Kelly insists records and statistics are the farthest thing from their mind entering the national decider.

“There is no real angle,” says Johnny. “The angle at the end of the day will be to win the Tommy Moore Cup. I mean, it is a brilliant, brilliant competition, in that you are hurling with the fellows you grew up with. I know it is clichéd but really, there is nothing like playing with your friends and family in Croke Park. Hopefully we can perform to a level that will get us over the line on the day. That is the only angle we have at the moment.”

Wholly focused on the task in hand, Kelly is delighted with the manner in which his charges have handled themselves in the build-up to the big day. “Preparations are going well, thanks be to God. It is always easier when you are not going out in frost, fog or rain. So, training has been going well over the last two weeks. We realised we had to up it a bit regards ball work and stuff after the Dunloy game.”

The Portumna defence will have to be in top form if they are to hold the likes of Henry Shefflin and TJ and Eoin Reid. In the provincial and All-Ireland series to date, Shefflin has amassed 1-32, from four games, while TJ and Eoin Reid have tallied 3-9 and 1-10 respectively.

That said, Portumna are not without their attacking aces either. Having totalled 8-67 in the county championship, Joe Canning added another 1-8 to his personal tally for the current campaign in his side’s semi-final victory over Dunloy.

 

For his part, Damien Hayes – having scored a whooping 11-19 from play in the Galway championship – hit Dunloy for two points, while Ciaran Ryan (1-1), Andy Smith (0-3) and Kevin Hayes (0-3) also featured prominently among the scorers in that 2-18 to 0-12 win.

Given both sides firepower, it is no wonder that, between them, Portumna (2006, ’08 and ’09) and Ballyhale (2007) have won the last four All-Ireland titles.

With James Stephens of Kilkenny winning the 2005 title, defeating Athenry in the decider, it underlines the grip that Galway and Kilkenny have exerted on the club championship in recent years.

Although both teams will only be focused on winning the game on Patrick’s Day, the outcome will have a significant impact on the roll of honour. For one, Portumna will not only top the list with Birr and Ballyhale, who have four titles each, but they will also become the first club to achieve the three-in-a-row of club titles if they win.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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