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Speak a bit of Irish and new GAA Club could be for you

Stephen Glennon

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The ladies of Galway's newest GAA club, Gaeil na Gaillimhe, at a training session last week. Left to right: Aine Gallagher, Síobhra Aiken, Shannon Grimes, Caitlín Ní Cheallaigh, Siobhán Ní Dhufaigh, Morvyn Menzies, Ruth Ní Shiadhail.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

IT’S a bold move to start a new GAA club in any part of the country – given the parochial nature of the Association – but to do so with the primary aim of promoting the Irish language outside the traditional Gaeltacht areas does seem to have a touch of madness about it.

Yet, Gaeil na Gaillimhe, based in Galway City, has done just that and already both their men’s and women’s adult teams have fielded in 2016 county league fixtures. The men’s team only swung into action last Sunday and, despite losing 2-9 to 1-5 to Micheál Breathnach in Division 7 (West) of the league, it was a solid showing for their maiden sojourn.

The whole idea of establishing a new club came about before Christmas when Stephen Joyce and Evelyn Fennelly met at a ThinkDay conference in Dublin, an event which included a brainstorming session between different groups to look at new and innovative ways to promoting the Irish language.

One of the groups there was from Na Gaeil Óga GAA Club in Dublin. “That club started in 2010, much like ourselves, with seven or eight lads and a dog down kicking a ball in the Phoenix Park and now they have over 300 active members,” outlines 26-year-old Knocknacarra man Joyce.

“They have two men’s teams, a women’s team, a hurling team, a camogie team and two or three underage teams. They have given us a lot of advice. They are always at the end of a phone if you need advice and it is very practical advice.

“They are training in the Phoenix Park at the moment but they launched a campaign a couple of nights ago for a permanent home and the plans are very ambitious. From what they have achieved so far, it is unbelievable.”

Graiguecullen native Eoin Ó Broin (24), who plays with Gaeil na Gaillimhe, is familiar with the Dublin club as he was living in the capital at the time of its establishment. “It is an all-Irish language club in Dublin and it was set up by people in the city who wanted to play ball through Irish.

“At the time I was asked to play but I was still working at home in Laois in the Summer and I wasn’t going to transfer. However, I think it has shown the shift in demographics towards Irish. Urban Irish speakers aren’t a rarity anymore. That is probably where the vast majority of Irish is going to be spoken in the future and there is going to be a need for clubs like this.”

For Galway GAA’s part, they have thrown their weight behind the venture and, to this end, have provided Pearses Stadium to Gaeil na Gaillimhe to fulfil their ‘home’ league fixtures. It’s not a surprising move, given Galway CEO John Hynes mooted the idea of establishing a new club at last year’s County Convention.

His premise was totally valid. He argued that if you have only a handful of GAA clubs serving the needs of a city the size of Galway, it means that only 60 to 80 teenagers, for example at minor level, will be afforded the opportunity to play club championship in any given year.

He noted that this was totally inadequate to cater for the large playing base of such a population at that level – it has to be a factor in player fall-off – and stated there was a “need to knock heads together at Committee level and come up with proposals”.

No wonder then, Galway GAA has backed the new club given that Gaeil na Gaillimhe could, potentially, form at least part of the solution to the current predicament. “I think that is part of the reason John Hynes is being so supportive. Obviously, we would be operating at a very small scale but there is a need for more clubs in the City,” says Joyce.

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

 

Connacht Tribune

Connacht raise the roof again with magnificent late heroics

John McIntyre

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Claregalway's Dara Whelan, Conor Flaherty, Barry Callanan and Dylan Buckley with the Padraig Stephens Cup after their County U20 A Football Final victory over Salthill-Knocknacarra at Duggan Park on Saturday. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

THE dramatic finale at the Sportsground on Saturday ought to have made the RTE Six One News sporting headlines, but there wasn’t a mention of Connacht’s extraordinary late heroics against Gloucester which keeps the province’s hopes of reaching the European Champions Cup quarter-finals alive.

Instead, the rugby spotlight was on Munster’s away defeat to champions Saracens. Later during the sports segment on the Six One News, Connacht’s never-say-die comeback was relegated to the last match of the Champions Cup wrap up. RTE, in their wisdom, believed that Munster’s 15-6 loss and Leinster’s routing of a makeshift Northampton on the same day were somehow more meritorious.

If Leinster or Munster had achieved what Connacht did in the latest round of European pool matches, can you imagine how gushing RTE’s coverage would have been? When a Tipperary man with a strong GAA background starts taking offence over Connacht not getting the coverage they are entitled to, it does give an insight into why rugby in the West feels hard done by in terms of national acclaim.

For all that, last Saturday was another thumping experience on College Road. With their European Championship knock-out ambitions on the line, it was victory or bust for Caolin Blade and company. But when Connacht trailed by 24-13 with less than six minutes remaining, it was impossible to see how they could salvage a result.

A pragmatic Gloucester already had the four-try bonus point in the bag. They may have trailed 10-7 at the break having faced the elements, but  tries from Mark Atkinson (two) and captain Lewis Ludlow turned the game on its head. Connacht were remaining competitive but the breaks were going the way of a team they had never previously beaten.

The home fans in the crowd of 6,800 were understandably resigned to the worst. The yellow carding of Ludlow for a deliberate knock on meant Gloucester were reduced to 14 for the closing minutes, but nobody at the Sportsground thought much of it. Connacht were 11 points behind with time running out. They needed a miracle.

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Connacht Tribune

Being backed into a corner could help to ignite the Galway hurlers

John McIntyre

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Galway full back Daithí Burke giving Wexford's Paul Morris no quarter during Sunday's Leinster hurling championship clash at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

MICHEÁL Donoghue faces the biggest challenge of his management career so far after Galway’s latest subdued display of 2019 at Pearse Stadium last Sunday. A lot of the same personnel are still there from the team’s magnificent All-Ireland triumph of two years, but the form of a number of influential players has nose-dived since last September’s championship loss to Limerick.

After a late collapse against Waterford in the National League quarter-final, Galway had some questions to answer ahead of their Leinster campaign and not withstanding their significant injury problems over the past few months, the Tribesmen’s stock has continued to decline judging by this month’s displays against both Carlow and Wexford.

Though it’s far from a full-blown crisis and we must keep a sense of perspective, there’s no point being wise after the event. On the evidence of what have seen to date this summer, Galway are dicing with an unexpected premature exit from the championship unless the squad can rediscover the hunger, intensity and quality which characterised many of their performances in 2017.

The continued absence of Joe Canning – and it is a mighty blow – can’t explain everything. Sure, Daithí Burke, Joseph Cooney, Jonathan Glynn, Adrian Tuohey and John Hanbury, an important introduction against Wexford, remain short of competitive action, but as a package, Galway should still be better than this.

Failing to find the net against either Carlow or Wexford, together with the lack of fluency and sharpness, has some local alarm bells ringing, leaving the team management with plenty to ponder on ahead of Sunday week’s big collision with Kilkenny. Lose that and Galway’s season will hang on getting a result at Parnell Park – an unforgiving venue at the best of times.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

St Thomas’ man behind the scenes typifies why club is going so strong

Stephen Glennon

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The St. Thomas' management celebrate after their county SHC final victory over Liam Mellows. Left to right: Kenneth Larkin, Claude Geoghegan, Kevin Lally and TJ Ryan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

WHAT was meant to be a few minutes of soundbite ahead of St. Thomas’ All-Ireland senior club hurling semi-final clash against Cushendall on Saturday has metamorphosed into a full-scale Talking Sport interview. Simply, because, Claude Geoghegan is an interesting guy.

For the past decade, Geoghegan has been the man behind the scenes and in his own inimitable way he has contributed just as much to St. Thomas’s success story as anybody else in Kilchreest and Peterswell. Perhaps, even more so.

As club secretary, he presided over St. Thomas’ historic county and All-Ireland club victories in the 2012/2013 season while, in the past three years, he has served as selector under managers John Burke and Kevin Lally, winning a county senior crown with each in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It is a proud record.

“I have held a few positions alright over the best part of a decade now — four or five years as secretary — and this is my third year involved now with the senior team. It is a way of life, I suppose, more than anything else,” begins the 31-year-old.

“When you are from a rural locality, it is what you are brought up with. It is what you know. If I wasn’t involved in the club in some capacity, I would feel I had a bit too much spare time on my hands. I would feel a bit odd without it, being honest.”

A history teacher at Presentation College, Athenry, Geoghegan explains his family are steeped in GAA tradition. His father Seamus hurled with the club before managing the intermediate team, as it was back then, while his older brother James has also done his duty as club secretary.

“Also, when the club amalgamated in 1968, my father was on the U14 team that won the county championship that year. We actually haven’t won the ‘A’ championship at U14 since. We have won plenty, but not that.”

Indeed, three SHC county titles in the last seven years would suggest that St. Thomas’ is a very special club but Geoghegan argues they are no different to any of the other clubs around. “Every other club is putting in the time that we are putting in. We are not special in any way in comparison to anyone else but we are incredibly fortunate to have a special group of players who have come together at one time.”

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

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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