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Portumna men on the brink of hurling history

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Date Published: {J}

STEPHEN GLENNON

HARDWORKING wing-forward Niall Hayes is set to return to the Portumna attack for his side’s All-Ireland final clash against Kilkenny and Leinster champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks at Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hayes missed the club’s semi-final win over Dunloy through suspension, but kept himself sharp by lining out for Galway seniors hurlers in their victorious Walsh Cup run and, again, against Limerick in the first round of the National Hurling League.

Now, though, Hayes is poised to return to a Portumna outfit seeking an unprecedented three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles and manager Johnny Kelly is delighted his No. 10 is back in the fold. “Niall is going very well and it is very hard to overlook him. Obviously, we haven’t picked the team yet, so there are a couple of positions up for grabs. Niall is definitely in the running. He is an experienced guy and his work-rate is second to none.”

Indeed, Hayes’ absence was notable against Dunloy, both in the hard inches that he wins from game to game, and for his link-up play with those around him. “All in all, you would miss Niall’s experience as well and that probably did tell on us a little bit [against Dunloy],” says Kelly. “It was not only missing Niall, though. Our own ball work and decision-making maybe wasn’t as good as it should be, but we still won the game by 12 points. So, you have to be happy with that.”

With Hayes’ return, the question is who will give way? If the management team choose to revert to the side that won the county final, Ciaran Ryan – a goal machine en route to their All-Ireland club final win last season – could be the one to lose out.

When pressed, though, Kelly gives nothing away. “Ciaran Ryan did very well for us in the semi-final. He worked hard and got his goal. Ciaran will be a big help to us the next day as well.”

No doubt, Portumna’s real strength in recent times has been that they boast a settled side, with few changes from year to year. Everyone in the team has a role, which they perform with incredible intensity and nuance.

From their 2009 All-Ireland winning side, there has already been a couple of changes. Martin Dolphin has returned to the forward division, with Aidan O’Donnell switching from wing-back to corner back and Peter Smith nailing down the wing-back berth. If anything, the defence – backboned by Eugene McEntee, Ollie Canning, Garreth Heagney and Micheál Ryan – has become a stronger unit because of it.

Eoin Lynch and captain Leo Smith form a formidable midfield partnership, with both complementing each other brilliantly. Lynch has such a commanding presence in this area, and he is usually good to pick off a point from distance. Smith, then, would be the Portumna equivalent of Ballyhale’s James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, and, if anything, gets through just as much work. The match-up between these two men, alone, is mouth-watering.

Up front, the half-forward line – should the management keep faith with their county final side – will be Niall Hayes, the impressive Kevin Hayes and livewire Andrew Smith. The work ethic of these three players alone would rival that of any team.

Inside, the line should read Damien Hayes, Joe Canning and Martin Dolphin, with Dolphin, most likely, to drop deep at some point to leave the space for sharpshooters Damien Hayes and Canning to do what they do best – rack up a sinful amount of scores!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Jazz, folk and rock-inspired Syd Arthur set to hit the road

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Combining jazz, folk and rock influences, Syd Arthur play Róisín Dubh on Thursday, February 14. The Canterbury-based band are Liam Magill (vocals/guitar), Raven Bush (violin), Fred Rother (drums) and Joel Magill (bass). As he prepares to hit the road with the band, Joel recalls how they met.

“Me and Liam are brothers, so obviously we’ve known each other for a while,” he laughs. “We met Fred, our drummer, at school and started jamming together. Then we met Raven a bit later on, when I was 19 or 20. It went from there, basically.”

Some parents may be wary about their children going the rock ‘n’ route, but Joel and his friends met no such obstacles.

“We were always interested in it, and encouraged at school and by family,” he says. “Later on, the discovery of the Canterbury sound had a big influence on us.”

The ‘Canterbury sound’ refers to a scene that emerged in the late Sixties and early Seventies, spearheaded by groups with a taste for avant-garde and progressive rock music.

 

“I would always think of The Soft Machine and Caravan, and Hatfield and the North,” says Joel. “They’d be the big ones for us.”

In a previous incarnation, Joel and his bandmates went under the moniker of Grumpy Jumper. Why did they change their name?

“That was a long time ago, before Raven was in the band,” Joel explains. We were just playing locally and we made a CD under that name. When Raven joined, we felt like it was a new thing, so time to move on.”

Their new name comes from Siddhartha, a Buddhism-inspired novel written by Hermann Hesse.

“We all discovered that book around the same time,” says Joel. “It went round the whole band at the time we were trying to come up with a new name. We took a little bit of a play on it, made it a bit English. We used to pronounce the name of the book ‘Syd Arthur’.”

Last year, Syd Arthur released their debut album On And On, which was recorded in their own studio in Canterbury. Having their own space allowed the quartet to become familiar with recording, producing and mixing their music.

“Three or four years ago we got access to this space from Raven’s family,” says Joel. “It was an old dilapidated building that was on their property. We were often underwhelmed by going into the studio, spending a lot of money and generally not coming out with anything as good as one would hope.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Hope Springs eternal for Galway

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Date Published: 31-Jan-2013

FRANK FARRAGHER

WITH every Spring there comes a dollop of hope and when Galway footballers trot out on Sunday at Pearse Stadium (2pm) to take on Derry in the first match of the National League, there will be murmurings of better days to come for the hard core of maroon supporters.

Patience has had to be a virtue for all involved with Galway football over recent years, but Alan Mulholland and his management team have embarked on a policy of building a young team . . . a slow process and one that also requires the injection of winning key matches to build up the confidence reserves.

Championship and qualifier defeats to Sligo and Antrim last season didn’t exactly improve the mood of the county, and last Sunday week in Enniscrone, there were worrying signs when, once more, Galway perished at the sword of Kevin Walsh.

This time last year in the first match of the league, Galway travelled to Derry and came away with an unexpected victory that sowed the seeds of future hope – overall, Mulholland’s charges had a good early season campaign only being denied promotion by a late, late Kildare penalty goal in their last game at Pearse Stadium.

Over the Winter, Galway’s last playing links with the All-Ireland winning team of 2001 were severed with the retirements of Padraic Joyce and Joe Bergin, so it really is a new canvas in 2013 for the team management.

Mulholland said this week that he didn’t want to put too much pressure on his team for the Derry match, on the basis that there were 14 points to be picked up over the course of the league campaign, but he was still hoping for a strong performance in Pearse Stadium.

“Yes, we were very disappointed at our defeat to Sligo in the FBD league match in Enniscrone and especially with our second-half performance. It was an eye-opener for us but we’ve regrouped since, we’ve taken a look at where things went wrong, and hopefully we’ll get in right for Sunday.

“I suppose that if there’s one thing a young team needs, it’s confidence and that comes from winning matches. Over the last couple of months, the lads really have put in a huge effort in terms of their physical preparation, and I am hoping that this will count for something over the course of the league,” Mulholland told Tribune Sport.

He did stress however that Derry will present a very strong challenge under new manager Brian McIver (who guided Donegal to National League success) – a man who has also placed his faith in a youth policy – with the county having delivered some strong performances in the McKenna Cup.

“There’s a lot of football talent in Derry and maybe like ourselves, they might feel that they should be doing better, but they’ll come to Pearse Stadium on Sunday with no fears, and we know that it will take a huge effort to beat them,” said Mulholland.

Derry didn’t make it through to the McKenna Cup decider but they were, by all accounts, desperately unlucky to lose out to Tyrone in their first round game when they were ‘caught’ by a late sucker punch goal from Conor McAliskey.

Eoin Bradley is also back to spice up things in the Derry attack and the Northern side always carry a strong physical element to their play, so Galway will need to hold their own in the 50-50 scraps for possession.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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