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Salthill Devon set to join the Big Time



Date Published: 13-Nov-2009

GALWAY looks set to host three League of Ireland clubs in the 2010 season – giving it the same level of representation as the province of Munster – after Salthill Devon this week accepted an invitation from the FAI to apply for a licence to play in the First Division next season.

The invitation was sent after Devon were deemed to have won promotion from the Newstalk A Championship when Kildare County was unable to play in a two-leg promotion/ relegation play-off with the Galway club this week.

The FAI issued a short statement on the matter on Monday night which stated that “Kildare County FC today informed the Football Association of Ireland that the club is not in a position to fulfil the relegation/promotion play-off matches, originally scheduled for Tuesday and Friday of this week.

“As a result of today’s decision, Salthill Devon will have been deemed to have won promotion from the Newstalk A Championship into the League of Ireland First Division, pending the licensing process,” the statement read.

That opens the way for Devon to join Galway United (Premier Division) and Mervue United (First Division) in the League of Ireland next season, and yesterday club chairman Tony Johnstone confirmed to City Sport that the club had entered into the licensing process.

“We would be in that process anyway because, as a minimum, we would be applying for membership of the A championship again next season. The licence for the First Division is a bigger process, but we have started down that path.

“We are taking things step-by-step, and reviewing every stage of the process to evaluate what would be required and what would the benefits be, and at the end of the whole process we’ll sit down, take a look at things and make a decision.

“We want to play at the highest level possible, and it would be great to have that as something for all the younger members of the club to aspire to, but we are taking it very slowly, we’re not going to rush anything, and want to establish everything as a fact before we make a decision,” he said.

The players and management of the club’s A Championship squad are to meet tonight to discuss Devon’s potential membership of the League and discuss what level of commitment would be required, and what they would be able to provide.

Johnston says he does not envisage any difficulty from the playing point of view, but says it is just one aspect of the licensing process that the club needs to meet. Another is the infrastructure required.

“Our desire would be to play games at our own ground, and this season we hosted the A Championship final and the FAI Cup clash with UCD, and they were both successful from an organisational point of view.

“We are a private ground with one main access point so I don’t see a difficulty there, but there could be other matters which we are not aware of until a delegation from the Licensing Department of the FAI comes down, examines the ground, and advises us on what is required,” he said.

He said no approach has of yet being made to the Galway & District league, which owns Terryland Park, with a view to renting the ground for games next season, as both Galway United and Mervue United do, but a spokesperson for the FAI yesterday hinted that it would be difficult from its point of view in accommodating three League of Ireland teams playing in the one ground.

When asked if it would be possible to manipulate the fixtures list to ensure there was at least one of the three Galway clubs away from home every week, the spokesperson said that “it would probably be difficult to arrange that from a fixtures point of view”.

The spokesperson added that no ground issue “has been flagged” to the FAI, but stressed that the licensing process was a lengthy and detailed one, and said more would be known when the Licensing delegation visited Salthill Devon’s grounds in Drom.

The Galway & District League, which owns Terryland Park, is in talks with Galway United regarding the use of the ground next season, and is also due to sit down with officials from Mervue United to discuss their rental of the ground in 2010 as well.

Tony Samuels, the Chairman of the G&DL, said Galway United’s use of the ground is agreed upon on a year-on-year basis, and he has already held talks with CEO of the Premier Division club, Nick Leeson. He expects to enter into talks with officials from Mervue United in the coming days, but says there has, as of yet, been no contact from Salthill Devon.

Terryland Park has already hosted 88 games this year, including 23 games involving Galway United and 17 Mervue United games. The ground also hosted the FAI Schools Senior Cup final between St Joseph’s College (the Bish) and CBS Sexton Street Limerick in May, and the FAI Umbro Women’s U-14 Cup Final between Colga FC and Longford Town in August, as well as a range of games under the auspices of the G&DL.

There have been persistent rumours circulating for a number of weeks that Mervue United would not be applying to play in the League of Ireland again next season, but the club’s Facilities Manager and Club Licensing Officer, Declan McDonnell, firmly quashed such suggestions yesterday.

“The board of Mervue United voted to apply for a licence to play in the First Division next season, as did all 19 members of the club’s Football Committee, and our licence application has been completed and was lodged with the FAI at the end of October.

“It was a successful season for is in so far as we survived, our aspiration is to give young lads in the area the chance to play at the highest level so we have applied to play in the league in 2010. We will be restructuring our budget, and work on that is underway, but we have applied for a licence and are aiming to play in the First Division again next season,” he said.

The fact the club lost money on its debut season in the League of Ireland is no surprise, despite the fact the club operates on an amateur basis, as costs such as transport, catering, costs associated with match nights (including the rental of Terryland Park), as well as the membership fee of the League itself – believed to be around €7,000 – all add up as a drain on finances.

McDonnell also confirmed that permission would once again be sought from the G&DL for the use of Terryland Park next season as its own ground of Fahy’s Field does not meet the FAI’s licensing requirements.

A planning application to erect a fence around the pitch in Mervue has been lodged with Galway City Council, as well as the construction of a covered stand, and the granting of planning permission for both would suffice to meet that aspect of licensing requirements.

The FAI is currently undertaking a review of the entire League of Ireland structure, which is expected to be completed at the end of the 2010 season, and it is believed Mervue United will delay any work on erecting a surrounding fence or a stand at Fahy’s Field pending the outcome of that review.

It is thought that one avenue the FAI is considering is the expansion of the Premier Division to a 16-team league and the scrapping of the First Division, to be replaced by regional development leagues from which there will be promotion to, and relegation from, the Premier Division.

It is believed Mervue United will see little point in proceeding with such development work at Fahy’s Field if it is not involved in the Premier Division and if membership of the regional league does not require such facilities to be in place.

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

It’s low key start as Mervue and Salthill resume league fare



Date Published: 07-Mar-2013

Keith Kelly

AS the footballing world continues to split into opposite camps over the decision to send off Manchester United’s Nani in Tuesday night’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid, the little matter of the start of the 2013 Airtricity League season here at home has slipped even further under the radar than usual.

The Irish domestic league has long played second fiddle to the over-paid and over-hyped stars of the, ahem, ‘world’s greatest league’ in England – a league which will not have a side in the quarter-finals of this year’s premier European competition – while ignoring the entertainment on their own doorstep.

Players such as Roy Keane (Cobh Ramblers), Noel Cantwell (Cork Athletic), Paul McGrath (St Patrick’s Athletic), Kevin Moran (Bohemian FC), Ronnie Whelan (Home Farm), Steve Staunton (Dundalk) and the late Eamonn ‘Chick’ Deacy (Galway Rovers), and more recently, Kevin Doyle (St Patrick’s Athletic), James McClean (Derry City), Shane Long (Cork City) and our own David Forde (Galway United) all began their professional careers in the League of Ireland.

That’s some starting XI of talent, talent which entertained football fans at the likes of Flower Lodge and Terryland Park, Dalymount Park and Glenmalure Park, Richmond Park and Kilcohan Park. But for many, those names only became familiar once the players moved to the ‘big’ league, not realising what they were missing all along just down the road.

Mind you, the authorities running the game here haven’t exactly helped their own cause either, and that is particularly the case this year, which for the first time since 1975 will see no national domestic football at Eamonn Deacy Park (apart from the 1993 season, when the ground – then known as Terryland Park – was closed for redevelopment work).

The FAI have initiated talks between four stakeholders locally – the Galway FA, the Galway United Supporters’ Trust, Mervue United and Salthill Devon – with the aim of having a single representative Galway side in place for the 2014 season, but progress updates are scarce, with the CEO of the FAI, John Delaney, saying this week that “talks are going well”.

As a result, while Galway will have two clubs – Mervue and Salthill – in the First Division of the Airtricity League this season, the majority of football fans in the city and county continue to feel ‘locked out’ of the domestic league as attempts continue to find agreement on what is, without doubt, most beneficial to the whole football community in Galway.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune

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Archive News

Breath of hope for asthma sufferers



Date Published: 14-Mar-2013

Patrick McKeown can’t be entirely sure, but he thinks he had his mouth taped on his wedding night.

It might sound weird, but for him it was routine. Patrick, who suffered from chronic asthma since he was a four-year-old child, discovered the Buteyko method of breathing in his 20s when he was a Masters student at Trinity College – and it changed his life.

Developed by Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko this is a simple practice used all over the world to help those who suffer from asthma and allergies, including sinus and hay fever.

It basically involves breathing only through the nose and decreasing the amount of air entering the body – treatment is based on the idea that people with asthma breathe too much, rather than too little.

Asthma is on the increase in the Western World and Ireland has an extremely high rate of the condition. Around 470,000 people here have asthma, including one in every five children. Generally once diagnosed, people are put on inhalers and remain on some form of medication for life, with steroids and antiobiotics being required at regular intervals when attacks and chest infections occur.

But while some people are genetically disposed to having asthma the condition can be controlled by changing how you breathe, says Patrick.

Over-breathing disturbs the body, which affects the immune system. While people can’t avoid allergens they can address their breathing – and that helps them cope with allergies.

He first began to practise the Buteyko method as a student when his nose was blocked and he hasn’t looked back since. After college he worked in the corporate sector for two or three years before eventually deciding he should bring someone to Ireland to teach other asthmatics about it. The problem was, he knew nobody in Russia.

Undaunted, he rang the Russian embassy in Dublin and a woman there put him in contact with the relevant people.

He started learning through a translator and eventually was taught by Dr Buteyko. Eleven years ago this week Patrick began teaching the Buteyko method, and now teaches it in Ireland and over the Western world – two days after we spoke he was flying to Amsterdam for a conference.

If you watch somebody with asthma while they breathe, they will always breathe more heavily than somebody who hasn’t got the condition, he explains. That’s because asthmatics and people with allergies breathe too much. Because they take in large gulps of air, often through their mouths and using their upper chest rather than their diaphragm, it creates an imbalance in the body between oxygen and carbon dioxide.

We are all taught at school that oxygen is vital for life – but often what we aren’t told is that you need a balance between oxygen and CO2 in order for the body to work efficiently. That’s what Buteyko teaches.

Carbon dioxide is not just a waste gas, explains Patrick. It is vital for transporting oxygen to tissues and organs. It also relaxes and dilates blood vessels and airwaves, which means that the more calmly you breathe, through your nose, the more efficiently they work.

But because so many people with sinus or asthma problems suffer from nasal congestion, mouth breathing becomes the norm. So the first technique Patrick teaches is how to decongest the nose, so that people can make a permanent switch to nasal breathing, therefore reducing the amount of air they take in.

People with sinus and allergies frequently suffer from related symptoms including disrupted sleep, fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression, all of which have a negative impact on their lives.

“Problems with sinus affect sleep patterns,” he says simply – and that is something that anybody with the condition knows too well. However retraining the respiratory centre not to take in so much air can help. Patrick teaches exercises to do that; the problem is that while people are asleep, they revert to breathing through their mouths. That immediately creates an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

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

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