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Putting the flexibility back into those tight hamstrings



Date Published: {J}

IT is amazing what some people come up with when they put their mind to it. Take Edward Burns, known to those in sporting circles as ‘Ned’ Burns, for example. Shocked by the number of lower back, groin and hamstring injuries sustained by players and athletes in recent years, the former personal trainer has investigated the root cause of such complaints and invented a simple, but ingenious device to aid in the prevention of these injuries.

Anyone who has ever met Burns, the former Killererin and Galway goalkeeper, will tell you he lacks nothing in enthusiasm. He has an insatiable appetite for knowledge and the lengths he will go to ensure that he is up to date with new training methods and techniques often go above and beyond the call of duty.

Then again, this is the reason why he has enjoyed so much success as a manager and coach. In 2002, he was part of Fr. Ollie Hughes’ management team that led St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam to Hogan Cup success, before steering the Galway minor footballers to Connacht titles in 2004 and 2005. He was later involved with the Irish U-17 football side that took on Australia in the International Rules series.

In more recent years, he has been a guiding light to a plethora of clubs, including the footballers of Glenamaddy and St. Aidan’s of Ballyforan, Monivea Rugby Club, Padraig Pearses intermediate hurlers, who he currently trains, and Athlone IT, coaching their Sigerson Cup teams for the past three years.

However, in this time, he has been dismayed by the number of injuries picked up by athletes, in particular GAA players. “The biggest, single problem when Fr. Hughes asked me to train Jarlath’s was injuries and flexibility,” says Burns.

“Fr. Hughes was more up to date on that more than anyone at the time because he was into Pilates and yoga. But Jarlath’s had spent €4,000 or €5,000 the year before that on physio for the players and he knew I was into dynamic stretching and he thought that might help.”

Having worked as a personal trainer in a gym in Galway City, Burns was aware there was nothing out there that measured an athlete’s flexibility. So, from 2001 on, he began to formulate ideas in his head, using the likes of former Athletics Ireland Coaching Director Jim Kilty and current National Fitness Director of the IRFU, Dr. Liam Hennessy as sounding boards.

“I was a long time measuring and coming up with an idea,” continues Burns. “Eventually, I came up with the Speed Flexer, using an old crutch and a protractor. From that, I just kept developing and developing the idea.

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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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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