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Shame on Francis for cheap shots at Munster pack

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Date Published: {J}

NEIL Francis isn’t afraid to mince his words, but sometimes the former Irish international second row goes way beyond the boundaries of fair comment. During the current season, he has already incurred the wrath of the Connacht and Leinster camps but last Saturday night, he came down heavy on Munster.

As a TV pundit on Setanta, Francis described the Munster pack as “frauds” and “ladyboys” following their exit to Leinster in the Magners League semi-final at the RDS. His over the top commentary showed scant respect or regard for a group of men who have been serving up heroic performances in the Munster jersey year in, year out.

Sure, the Munster front eight – shorn of the services of injured pair, Jerry Flannery and Paul O’Connell – were in trouble against their arch rivals, but I saw no Munster forward backing away from the challenge on Saturday night as they gave everything they had in trying to end the Red Army’s losing run of results against their hosts.

Francis, who many believe was an under-achiever in the Irish jersey, is entitled to his opinion but his harsh judgements are more akin to outpourings of a tabloid hack these days. He could be a lot more diplomatic in assessing teams’ and players’ performances and still get his point of view across, but obviously prefers to put the boot in.

His hardly the flavour of the season with Connacht either after his public put down of the squad earlier in the campaign – Francis described playing for Connacht as along the lines of: ‘turn up, get hammered, have a laugh and go to the pub’. It was completely unfair and unjustified, but the more Francis courts controversy, the more his media employers (Today FM, the Sunday Tribune and Setanta) probably like it. At this stage, his credibility should be on the rocks.

Given the arduous seasons the Munster and Leinster players have been through, it is to their credit that they again served up such a match of raw intensity. Another huge crowd turned up to see the latest collision between Irish rugby’s provincial heavyweights and they certainly weren’t disappointed as the two teams tore into the exchanges.

The only try of the match fittingly went to the comprehensive 16-6 winners. It came early in the second-half when the Leinster backline superbly created the opening for a smashing Rob Kearney score. With the fit-again Jonny Sexton landed the difficult conversion and Jamie Sexton having another towering match at number eight, the home team just had too much firepower for their gallant if aging opponents.

Leinster simply out-muscled, out-ran and out-fought Munster on the night. They are the new power of Irish rugby and, on Saturday night’s evidence, look set to continue their current mastery over Ronan O’Gara and company in the short to medium term. It is hard to see the Ospreys having any better luck against them in the upcoming Magners League final.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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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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