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Stakes are high in second round shoot out



Date Published: 10-May-2012

Dara Bradley

IT’S only early May but five clubs will exit the race for the 2012 Galway senior hurling championship this weekend and will instead enter a battle for survival from the drop to intermediate.

The stakes are high for the ten first round losers who have one last chance to get their campaigns back on track. The winners advance to the group stages; the losers enter a ‘round robin’ relegation, where one team goes down to intermediate.

Surprisingly, three of the five teams that have won the Tom Callanan Cup in the past decade – Clarinbridge, Portumna and Athenry – and St Thomas’ and Mullagh, who harbour outside title ambitions, are all in the mix this weekend.


Portumna v Ardrahan (Athenry, 5pm)

It’s a reflection of the esteem Portumna is still held in that despite losing their opening round clash 1-14 to 1-12, after being rattled by Sarsfields, their odds on winning the county title barely shifted and they remain red-hot 13/8 favourites to sweep all before them from now on.

The Sarsfields’s defeat was the shock of the first round. Whether it was complacency on their part; whether there was an element of them being denied the freedom to hurl by a tigerish Bullaun/New Inn outfit; or whether Portumna are genuinely in decline, time will tell, but one thing is for sure, the new management team – and the squad itself – is under enormous pressure to perform on Saturday.

They cannot countenance being thrown into a relegation round robin. Andy Smith, who picked up a red card the last day, is ruled out, and may miss two months depending on how successful the club’s appeal against that ban is. According to manager Shane O’Rourke, Kevin ‘chunky’ Hayes is a doubt (hamstring) although Martin Dolphin (cruciate) has recovered and is available.

Ardrahan are expecting an almighty backlash from Portumna. They were in the relegation dogfight last year, and so know how difficult it is, and know the importance of trying to avoid it. According to manager Dermot Fahy, David Greene (ankle) remains out, and there are hamstring concerns over Cormac and Padraig Diviney and Niall Greene.

Ardrahan lost 0-16 to 0-13 against Kinvara in the first round, having played well for the middle 40 minutes but poorly in the first and last ten minute spells. Even a full hour hurling at their very best might not be enough to topple the wounded kingpins.

Verdict: Portumna

Liam Mellows v St Thomas’ (Athenry, 6.45pm)

St Thomas’ will feel unlucky to be in this situation; Liam Mellows can have no quibbles about where they find themselves.

The city men didn’t show up against Turloughmore in the opening round, losing by 1-8 to 0-17, after shooting 16 wides, converting less than a third of their scoring chances while Turloughmore landed over two-thirds of theirs. Mellows are a team in transition, and a major worry this week is the fitness of county star David Collins, who is struggling to shake off a foot injury but it’s likely he’ll play regardless.

‘Keeper Paddy Gannon (hip) is okay, John Lee (dead leg) should be fine, too, while Conor Hynes (hamstring) has recovered. Mellows responded well to the opening defeat, reportedly winning two challenge matches since, but they’ll need to find championship tempo quickly to avoid the relegation round robin.

St Thomas’ matched Gort stride for stride in round one but the county champions just had that extra little bit of nous when it mattered – that comes with experience – to make it over the line, 1-14 to 0-15. A youthful outfit that fielded eight U21s against Gort, Stt. Thomas’ had the chances to beat their neighbours and they’ll need to be more clinical when the goal opportunities arise.

They are without Gerald Murray, who received a match ban for his red card the last day, and according to manager John Burke, one of his five sons on the team, centre-back, Donal, is a doubtful starter (groin). If he doesn’t recover, it may require a ‘reshuffling’ of the starting XV, and could pave the way for minor Shane Cooney to land his first senior start having impressed off the bench against Gort. This game arrived too soon for Seán Skehill (broken finger).

Verdict: St Thomas’

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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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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