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Portumna power home



Date Published: 17-Nov-2009

PORTUMNA hurlers completed the magnificent feat of a three-in-a-row of county senior titles and the dream of achieving a similar hat-trick in the All-Ireland club series – unprecedented at national level – is still very much alive.

The reigning All-Ireland champions produced a scintillating performance in sweeping aside the challenge of their great rivals Loughrea, on a scoreline of 5-19 to 1-12, with Man of the Match Damien Hayes tallying a hugely impressive 3-3 from play in the decider at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

Indeed, by the 14th minute, Hayes had bagged two of his goals and this brace – added to All-Star Joe Canning’s goal from a placed ball on just four minutes – catapulted the victors into an early 10-point lead, 3-2 to 0-1.

Although Johnny Maher found the net for Loughrea on 18 minutes, by half-time, the fixture was all but over as a contest as Johnny Kelly’s charges led 3-10 to 1-5. Portumna may have leaked four goals in the closing stages of their semi-final joust against Gort, but that was never likely to happen here.

Simply, Portumna live for days like these and this was no more evident than 17 seconds into the second period when Damien Hayes collected an Andy Smith delivery and beavering his way in along the touchline, drilled his effort beyond Loughrea’s Stephen Morgan for a glorious hat-trick.

Hayes added another three points thereafter, while corner forward Martin Dolphin polished off a thoroughly professional display from the county champions when netting his side’s fifth goal on 48 minutes.

Lifting the Tom Callanan Cup after the final whistle, captain Leo Smith summed up the Portumna experience succinctly in his victory speech from the podium. “It has been a rip-roaring seven years since we started back here in 2003. There have been a few lows, but by God have they been outweighed by an awful amount of very good highs.”

No doubt, Portumna can justifiably claim that they have been the team of the decade – appearing in seven county deciders, winning five (2003, ‘05, ‘07, ‘08, and ‘09), along with securing three All-Ireland Club crowns (‘06, ‘08 and ‘09).

Now, they are sweetly poised to claim their fourth, their third in as many years. First up, Ulster champions Dunloy in the All-Ireland semi-final next February.

In many respects, though, Portumna’s victory over Loughrea – who defeated them under acrimonious circumstances in the county final of 2006 – brought a certain amount of finality to that saga. From the podium, Smith declared as much.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. A lot of people refer back to 2006. Right, Loughrea had their day, and fair play to them, but we came back here today, and no man or beast was going to stop us from taking Tommy Callanan home.”

A 19 point victory certainly bore testament to that. Smith put it down to hard work, as a team, as a panel. “We are a band of brothers – and I know that is a cliché – but each and every one of us are the best of friends, and we will never forget these days of lifting county titles,” added the jubilant captain.

Dedicating their victory to Anne Heagney, who had been involved in an accident the previous week, Smith also paid tribute to their supporters, their main sponsor – Al Hayes Motors – and the club committee, along with the management team of boss Johnny Kelly, selectors Vinny Treacy and Timmy Walsh and trainer Dinny Cahill, and their medical team.

He also recognised that it was “a tough day” for the Loughrea players, and he said Portumna knew only too well the pain and hurt they were going through.

However, Sunday was all about the kingpins of modern day club hurling. The infallible masters. “We are going to go back to Portumna tonight and we are going to have one hell of a party,” added Smith.

In Portumna, that, by and large, has been the story of the decade.


For a full match report and analysis see this week’s Connacht Tribune on Thursday


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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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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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