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Talking Sport

TG4 documentary charts history of GAA in the USA

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Dara Ó Cinnéide interviewing Carna native Colie Lydon from Boston club, Connemara Gaels for the new TG4 documentary, GAA USA.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

Asuperb new four-part documentary exploring the history of the GAA in the United States between the 1800s and the present day, which has begun to air to rave reviews on TG4 on Wednesday evenings, has been produced and directed by two Galway brothers.

The fascinating series, entitled GAA USA, is the brainchild of producer Éamonn and director Sean Ó Cualáin and, in addition to chronicling the unknown history of Gaelic Games in the United States, it also charts how GAA members struggled to come to terms with such major events as two World Wars and the Great Depression.

Chatting to the two Carna men, it becomes obvious this was a labour of love, not only for them but for the presenter of the documentary, former All-Ireland winning Kerry captain and award-winning broadcaster Dara Ó Cinnéide. Together, the three men have really got to the heart of their subject matter.

It was Éamonn who first broached doing such a documentary with his brother Sean. Having spent a Summer in Boston in 2003, he was blown away by the spirit of the GAA community. “I never knew there was such a big interest in Gaelic games over there until that point,” says Éamonn, who is Chairman of the Carna Caiseal club.

By the time Éamonn and Sean, who produce TG4’s Seó Spóirt, discussed doing a documentary on the GAA in the USA, they were already putting the finishing touches on another body of work, ‘Men At Lunch’, which told the story behind the iconic image of 11 unharnessed men having lunch high up on a girder on the 69th floor of the Rockefeller Building.

At any rate, they began to develop the GAA USA idea around the same time and, after a number of applications, they were finally granted funding by TG4 and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to pursue the venture in 2011.

The end product is what is currently airing on TG4 and Éamonn highlights that central to the success of the series has been presenter Ó Cinnéide. “We couldn’t have picked a better man to present it for us,” he says.

“Everything is done to the minute detail. He himself went over to Chicago in 1996 and 1999 so he could understand people going over from Ireland and playing on J1s – and players being enticed over, or whatever, be it financially or otherwise.

“He also saw the disappointment of players living over there, who year in, year out have to sit on the bench for the Summer for the likes of Dara and other top players going over. So, he understood the story on every level.”

That is one thing the documentary is not short on. There are so many levels, strands and angles, it’s a credit to the brothers and Ó Cinnéide that they have managed to package it in such a concise and precise manner.

There are tales of isolation, splits, in-fighting, bribes, back-handers and gunrunning; of competing with baseball “for the hearts and minds of the Irish Americans” – as Sean puts it – and of the xenophobic portrayal of hurling and football by Americans as a brutal ‘thug sport’ to dissuade parents from allowing their children to play Gaelic games.

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

Connacht Tribune

Connacht raise the roof again with magnificent late heroics

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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

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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

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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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