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Rebounders honing the skills of An SpidŽalÕs young hurlers



Date Published: 06-Sep-2012

Mention An Spidéal and you most likely think of Gaelic football, the popular TG4 soap Ros na Rún or attractive TV presenters, sisters Gráinne and Síle Seoige. Rarely would you contemplate An Spidéal as a hotbed of hurling.

Yet, for all that, it may surprise some to hear that there has been a long and proud tradition of hurling in the village. An Spidéal GAA Club, itself, was established in 1906 and it is said that there was a hurling team in the club at its inception.

Indeed, since then, the club, which stretches approximately five miles along the coast road from Doire Locháin through Spiddal village to Púirín, has fielded – and continues to field – a large number of teams in all age groups in both codes.

While there are not many pictures or snippets of information regarding the club available from the beginning of the last century, recently a photograph of an An Spidéal team from 1912 was unearthed as part of a heritage project between Galway County Council and the Galway County Board. The picture shows the Spidéal hurling team standing under the trees as they ready themselves to take to the field.

You might well ask where is this going? Well, to recognise the 100 year plus history of hurling in the club, a company that provides sports equipment has thrown its weight and support behind An Spidéal’s young hurlers to help them fulfil their potential.

In all, Banaghans of Tipperary has given an obligation to supply 18 rebounders – an elasticised net on a fixed metal frame – to players on An Spidéal’s U-8 team to help them hone their skills and, hopefully, realise their potential on the field of play in the coming years. The ‘Hurling Rebounder’ has been designed by former Tipperary All-Ireland winner and All Star, Michael Cleary.

Just a word on the rebounder. When the sliotar is struck against the net it is ‘rebounded’ at speed towards the player – at much greater speed than when struck against a wall. Using the rebounder improves catching and blocking skills, hand eye co-ordination and striking accuracy.

Also, when the ball is struck against the centre of the net it rebounds directly to the player but when struck off centre the ball returns at different trajectories and this variation in the return of the sliotar improves the reflex reactions of the player.

At the moment, the hurling division of the club uses two of them. The idea to embrace the equipment in training came from An Spidéal’s U-8 coaches Anthony Murray and Jimmy Morris, both of whom had purchased the rebounder for their own children and had seen the positive results it had in improving the fledging stars’ skills.

Over a few weeks, you could see the benefits,” says Portumna native Murray. “When you start with them, you kind of think they are not going to be even able to get a block on it, but they are starting to catch the ball now.

“Even with the few you might see dropping away [from the game] in a few years time, there was great improvement. There is one young fellow there and I thought I would never see him catch a ball but last night he caught a few off the rebounder.

“The small fellows sometimes find it hard to hit it, though, so what we do is – Jimmy or I – would hit the ball off the rebounder and they would catch it on the way back,” explains Murray, who notes the equipment has not only improved the children’s striking and catching, it has also enhanced their reflex action.

“We play a match now and some of the lads are hitting it (the sliotar) 30 or 40 yards further. It definitely has brought them on a good bit. I suppose clubs which have a ball wall, it probably wouldn’t be an advantage but for a club that wouldn’t have a wall, these would be good.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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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