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Sports fanatic is GalwayÕs answer to JP McManus

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: {J}

HE has been described as the JP McManus of Galway sport by hurling legend John Connolly, but that, in itself, hardly does justice to the contribution Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s has made to the sporting and social fabric of life west of the Shannon.

Indeed, when it comes to supporting his own, the Killimordaly native has rarely been found wanting. If the budget of his national franchise allows it, then he will endeavour to oblige – as the Galway hurlers, Galway United and many other sporting organisations will gladly testify to.

Although McDonagh has yet to finalise his sponsorship budget for 2011 – still, it is almost a given the Supermac’s brand name will once again furnish the Galway hurlers’ jersey for a 21st year – he has already, this year, backed the prestigious Galway Sports Stars Awards ceremony, which took place with much aplomb in the Ardilaun Hotel in January.

McDonagh says he was delighted to back the venture, particularly given he is such a sports enthusiast. “Sport is a thing I enjoy and it doesn’t really matter what sort of sport it is. I think sport is very important, especially for young people to be involved in,” says the former national schoolteacher.

“Even from my teaching days, if kids don’t get involved in sport from an earlier age, they can lose out in a lot of ways. It teaches them an awful lot of things that you can’t always teach in the classroom, such as discipline, work ethic and looking after your health.”

Indeed, McDonagh, himself, has recently re-entered the sports arena, taking on the role of a selector with the Killimordaly intermediate hurling team. “So far, it’s good,” beams the successful businessman, who joins a management set-up that includes boss Tom Monaghan and trainer Gerry Dempsey.

“It’s enjoyable and it’s challenging. I think the lads are enjoying the training, which is awfully important. They have to enjoy what they are at as well to achieve the results at the end of the day. Like any sport or any business, though, you have to make the self sacrifices to achieve your goal and you have to put in the effort, endure the pain and be prepared to sacrifice the little things in order to achieve the bigger prize.”

Of course, many clubs out there – be they GAA, soccer, rugby or whatever – are facing many challenges at present, such as the threat of mass emigration, recruiting volunteers or grappling with financial constraints. McDonagh says Killimordaly is no different.

“Finance is a big issue in a lot of clubs. The cost of running a club can be fairly serious. In our own club, for example, it costs in excess of €100,000 to run it, I would say. I haven’t got the figures on me at the minute, but that is a fairly heavy commitment. Now, granted, we built the wall ball last year and that was certainly an investment. So, that and emigration are going to be the biggest challenges facing clubs over the next few years.”

McDonagh is equally as passionate about the Galway hurlers and that has been reflected in the massive financial commitment his company has made to the county’s hurling representatives for over two decades. He says he has seen some great times, although he laments the long wait for the return of the Liam McCarthy Cup back to the banks of the Corrib.

“We haven’t been far away from it at times,” continues McDonagh, “but to win an All-Ireland, it takes everyone to be singing off the same hymn sheet and everyone in it for the same goal. Whether it is the County Board or the team management or the team themselves or the supporters or the sponsors or whatever, unity of purpose is what helps any team – or any business – to succeed. That hasn’t always been there and I think we have paid a serious price at times for that.”

However, he believes, in recent times, there has been a move to nurture a harmony across the hurling spectrum and he predicts that senior success could well be in the county’s grasp “inside the next couple of years”. He adds: “You also need a bit of luck on your side, because you can have injuries or there might be some other distraction.

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

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



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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