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Shabby treatment of OÕSullivan leaves a sour taste



Date Published: 16-Jan-2013

THE individuals in charge of Connacht rugby must have had a collective brainstorm in announcing the appointment of former Samoan international Pat Lam as their new Head Coach just hours before the province’s high profile Heineken Cup encounter against Harlequins at The Stoop last Saturday. In a lesson in bad timing, this was a classic.

Lam’s selection as the man to replace Eric Elwood may no longer have been a state secret, but the confirmation of his appointment ought to have been a stand-alone event rather than running the risk of being overshadowed by the onfield action later in the day. It smacked of a panic move, possibly the result of the continuing negative commentary, admittedly some of it not of Connacht’s own making, over the process of finding the new rugby supremo at the Sportsground.

It’s difficult to comprehend why Connacht CEO Tom Sears and the other stakeholders didn’t wait until this week to unveil Lam as the new Head Coach. It would have been a timely lift and taken some of the focus off the embarrassing rout at the hand of Harlequins. Instead, this important news appeared to be rushed out at 7.30am last Saturday but, by mid-afternoon, the only thing Connacht supporters were talking about was the hammering by Harlequins.

Frankly, the process of appointing the new Connacht Head Coach had turned messy. It seems ages ago since Elwood stunned the local rugby fraternity by revealing that he would not be seeking an extension to his contract at the end of the current season. In between, there was the surprising revelation that former Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan wasn’t even going to be granted an interview for the position, while one of the six candidates eventually shortlisted walked away from the Connacht job. Something which should have been relatively straightforward had instead served up no shortage of intrigue for public consumption.

It’s over three months since Elwood announced that he would be stepping down due to the continued strain the role was taking on him. The former international out half has been a fantastic ambassador for rugby in the West, both on and off the field, but he had become so immersed in driving the province forward that other important aspects of his life were being compromised. The only way he could escape was to opt out altogether.

Elwood might have kept his counsel on future plans for a while longer, but once he informed Sears of that decision, he felt the next honourable move was to be up front with the players. It was a risky strategy, however, as Elwood could have lost the dressing room there and then – ‘hey coach, that’s not showing much loyalty to us’ could have become a popular refrain.

Players can be selfish buggers and their first priority is to look after their own corner, but the Connacht squad were acutely aware of the huge personal investment Elwood has made over many years in making the province a credible force on the rugby fields. Nobody was going to jump ship and start whinging about their coach, though the whole thing must at least have been something of a distraction.

Admittedly, they tend to do things differently in rugby as in the GAA world, no inter-county hurling or football manager would even countenance revealing in the middle of a campaign that he would be resigning at the end of the season. It simply doesn’t happen and if it ever did, the roof would probably cave in on that particular dressing room immediately.

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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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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