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Salthill thriving in face of stiff competition



Date Published: 11-Oct-2012

Dara Bradley

WITH a population catchment of upwards of 15,000, Salthill/Knocknacarra GAA Club would be the envy of many rural clubs in County Galway, ravaged by emigration, who struggle to field teams.


Being an urban club does pose its own challenges, however, that country clubs don’t necessarily have to face to the same extent as a Galway City based outfit.

The strength of the structures of the local soccer club, Salthill Devon, and the lure of youngsters to rugby thanks to the increasingly fashionable franchise of Connacht Rugby, means that the likes of Salthill/Knocknacarra – and city clubs St Michael’s and St James’ – have to compete hard to attract, and more importantly retain, players to their games.

“It’s great that young people are all playing sport, any sport, but we’re trying to promote our games and there is intense competition for players. It is harder for us but days like Sunday where we have a team in the senior and minor final certainly helps to promote GAA here.

We’ve also got a very well organised executive committee,” says David Burke, club chairman, who is on the senior panel for Sunday.

Shamrock Rovers’ player Stephen O’Donnell won an underage All-Ireland Féile medal with Finian Hanley and Seán Armstrong and, had he not chosen the soccer path, would probably be playing this Sunday; ditto for Connacht’s Eoin Griffin, who also tasted GAA underage success with the club before choosing rugby – they are just two high profile examples of leakage of players away from GAA to other codes.

Founded in 1967 as St Kieran’s, the club was renamed Salthill GAA in the 1970s, and then Knocknacarra was added to the official title in the 1990s to reflect that many of the teams’ players were coming from that burgeoning suburb west of Salthill.

There are very real threats in terms of intense competition with rugby and soccer but the club is thriving at underage level where the likes of Tipperary hurling manager Éamon O’Shea and Galway football manager Alan Mulholland are involved in coaching, and it has two adult teams, senior and intermediate.

It is a sign of the strength in depth the Salthill club has at its disposal that six of last year’s panel, John Boylan, Peter Fahy, Stephen O’Reilly, Aonghus Callanan, Gearóid Armstrong and Michael O’Donnell, are all injured or abroad, yet the club has reached a county final.

Another problem faced by an urban side like Salthill – and Dublin GAA clubs have similar issues – with so much else going on in the area, attracting huge levels of support can be difficult. If a rural club in Connemara or North Galway was featuring this weekend, there wouldn’t be a sinner left in those villages for the match but Salthill has to work a little harder to pull the punters in even if there is a solid ‘hardcore’ fan base.

Burke explained that even though there is free entry for under 16s on Sunday, the club and its sponsor Nestor’s Supervalu printed 3,000 free entry coupons and distributed them throughout the schools in Salthill and Knocknacarra “to ensure there is as much interest as possible.”

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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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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