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Soccer gives Oranmore amputee a new lease of life



Date Published: 29-Mar-2012

AN Oranmore national school teacher will make history when he travels with the Republic of Ireland amputee soccer team to compete in their first competitive international tournament this weekend.

David Saunders – a Kerry native who has been teaching at Scoil Iosaif Naofa (Oranmore Boys NS) for the past six years – is a recent addition to the Irish set-up, having joined the squad late last year.

That said, sport – and football – is in the blood. His father John won an All-Ireland minor medal with Kerry in 1963 and later represented The Kingdom at senior level while David, himself, was showing a similar talent and application for Gaelic football before bone cancer took his left leg when he was just 11 years old.

“It was rough,” admits the 29-year-old Rathmore native. “Then I had a recurrence [of the cancer] a year later. Initially, I had a below knee amputation but then I had to also have an above the knee amputation.”

The amicable resource teacher, who works with special needs children, recalled achieving some normality to his life before the second operation, but when he lost his knee, it was “a different kettle of fish”.

“You don’t have as much mobility. I mean, you adjust and you get on with things and you find your own pattern and routine. Then, as you get a bit older, the playing field kind of levels off because guys aren’t running around. As children, everyone is running around and messing around and that was not easy.

“That said, I always had a fairly good attitude about it. I realised this was the way things were. I was positive and got on with things and made the most of my situation. I was never treated any differently by my friends, which actually meant an awful lot to me. As a result, I didn’t behave any different, I just got on with things. I knew what I couldn’t do and they knew what I couldn’t do and that was it.

“I would have always kept fit, though, and I would have been in the gym a lot. I would look after myself in that regard. However, this (joining the Irish soccer side) has been a whole new lease of life for me. It has been really fantastic. I never envisaged being part of a team again. That has meant an awful lot to me – the fact that I am actually part of a panel and part of a team again.”

Saunders – who has always been keen on maintaining his fitness, be it through cycling, gym work or hill climbing – came upon amputee football by chance on an internet search. “I am always looking out for new things to do as regards sports,” he explains.

He subsequently made contact with former St. Pat’s legend and amputee player Christy McElligott and since late last year he has been travelling to venues such as Mountview Community Centre in Blanchardstown and Ballymun every two weeks for training.

“You almost have to see it on Youtube to understand it,” says Saunders. “We don’t wear our prosthesis at all. It has a very high skill level and it is quite fast moving. It is a sport that is growing throughout the world. There is a World Cup in it and as far as I know there is a World Cup this year in Russia.

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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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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