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Connacht Tribune

Sunday the most dreaded day of the week in GAA lockdown



Beagh hurler Patrick Earley who is itching to get back on the playing fields after the GAA season was thrown into turmoill by the coronavirus.

Freelance journalist PATRICK EARLEY is a member of the Beagh senior hurling panel, but when the coranavirus led to sport being halted virtually overnight, he was one of thousands plunged into a strange and challenging world. In this feature, he outlines the difficulties of the     last three months when isolated   from the game he loves.

WHEN approached initially about writing this piece a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself how am I going to put some sort of a positive spin on life in lockdown as a club hurler?

Lockdown was a hugely difficult time for us all for totally different reasons and as sports lovers with no games to watch, attend or play, there was a huge void in our lives.

Sunday became the most dreaded day of the week, and when John Horan appeared on the first episode of The Sunday Game on May 10, we began to consign ourselves to the possibility of there being no GAA at all for the remainder of the year.

That period in the weeks that followed was certainly the toughest of my time during lockdown but now, thankfully, the GAA have changed their stance and the outlook is far brighter – we all desperately needed that bit of hope.

The roadmap is becoming clear at last – a return to training on the pitch on June 29, contact training on July 20 with games to follow on the first weekend of August all going to plan, all of which makes this article an awful lot easier to write now.

I’m a 23-year-old freelance sports journalist who had been splitting my time between my writing and work on the family farm. On top of that, I play with the Beagh senior hurlers so for me, lockdown took both my work and my hobby away from me.

We’re a small, rural club with nothing to boast other than a church, a pub, a funeral home and our hurling grounds so for our parish, the pitch is central to everything that’s so good about our community.

To have that taken away has left a huge void in the parish over the last couple of months but like everywhere else, we have pulled together and that sense of community has never been so strong.

At first, the GAA instructed club bars and gyms to close in addition to the suspension of games, something we were all disappointed by but willing to accept given the spread of the virus throughout the nation.

But when the GAA’s stance heightened to the complete shutdown of all pitches and club activities on March 25, the reality hit home of just how serious the battle to quell this virus was and that our lives were set to drastically change.

Our last training session as a group came on March 9 and when it quickly became clear that our facilities weren’t going to re-open anytime soon, lads began making their way to the club gym to take away whatever equipment they needed to try keep themselves ticking over, though most of ours ended up in the possession of our county man Adrian Tuohey!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars



Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team



Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78



Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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