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Portumna under pressure but far from finished

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Date Published: {J}

THE general consensus after last Sunday’s Galway senior hurling semi-finals is that Portumna, the team which has dominated the local scene for nearly the guts of a decade, is slipping. Given that the champions had to rely on a controversial injury time free to earn a replay against bitter rivals Loughrea, it is no surprise that so many neutrals have jumped to that conclusion.

In front of a massive attendance at Kenny Park, Portumna came within seconds of losing for the first time in a Galway championship game outside of county finals since surrendering a big lead against Sarsfields in the 2002 semi-final. They have been in a class of their own for most of the intervening period, routinely running up big winning margins on their way to seven consecutive final appearances and five title triumphs.

That is remarkable consistency and though Portumna failed in their bid to achieve an historic hat-trick of All-Ireland Club titles last March, few anticipated that their stranglehold on the Galway championship would come under serious threat in 2010. Michael Duignan was brought on board as team coach to help freshen things up and when they recently inflicted a ten points defeat on Mullagh in this year’s quarter-final, the remaining clubs left in contention must have sighed with resignation.

Yet, on closer examination, Portumna’s display against Mullagh was a long way short of their vintage best. Despite a lot of possession and territory, the challengers were undone by the concession of three giveaway early goals with the result that the title holders didn’t have to empty the locker in order to carry the day. On reflection, we go no real clue about what Portumna had left in the tank given Mullagh’s self-destruction even if the assumption remained there was nothing to touch them in Galway.

Well, they theory was blown out of the water at Kenny Park in a semi-final which appeared to be just one bad stroke away from exploding. There was unbelievable tension in the air and with a succession of minor scuffles, yellow cards and bad temper peppering the fixture, referee Eoin Shaughnessy had his hands full in controlling a game which fell well short of expectations notwithstanding the finish of high drama.

It was stop-start match, marred by a high foul count and some woeful inaccuracy – both teams hit 11 wides – but Portumna were always holding the edge until almost out of nothing, Loughrea came desperately close to achieving a sensational victory with final quarter goals from Johnny Coen (free) and substitute Kenneth Colleran, a fine individual effort, turning the game completely on its head.

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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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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