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The hand of Henry leaves Ireland apopletic with rage

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Date Published: {J}

COULD it be that Eamon Dunphy was right all along? RTE’S strident soccer pundit had been at pains in suggesting that the Republic of Ireland squad was being done a huge disservice by the safety-first approach of manager Giovanni Trapattoni throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign. Dunphy believed that Ireland were paying the price for being put into a tactical straightjacket.In response, most of us howled with derision.

Robbie Keane and company were honest pros, but we viewed them as not possessing the technique or class to trouble the top teams – journeymen players of limited ability was the general chorus. Let’s be truthful, few supporters gave Ireland a prayer of winning their second leg play-off against the French at Stade de France last week. The bookies odds of 6/1 against a victory for the visitors told its own story.

But soon a wonder came to light. Not alone did an adventurous Ireland carry the battle to their hosts, but for long tracts of an absorbing match, they outplayed France. Robbie Keane’e superbly taken 33rd minute goal after great work by Kevin Kilbane and Damien Duff down the left flank was no more than they deserved, but the reality is that the men in green could have had a couple more with John O’Shea, Duff and Keane all spurning decent chances.

Ireland were a revelation – I can’t ever remember a performance of such sustained quality in a high stakes match – with the team heroic to a man in their commitment and intensity. France were knocked completely off their stride and must have been relieved that they had managed to hang on for extra time. They had hardly created a chance of note and, perhaps, were subconsciously guilty of assuming the hard work had already been done in Croke Park.

The towering Richard Dunne – what were Manchester City thinking of in moving him on? – and his colleagues weren’t prepared to back off in extra time either, but the fighting Irish were eventually undone by a blatantly illegal goal from William Gallas in the 103rd minute. Thierry Henry handled the ball in the penalty area but, unfortunately, the Swedish referee and his officials missed the incident. Despite vehement Irish protests, the goal was allowed to stand and try valiantly as the team did, they were unable to retrieve the situation.

It was a crushing, heartbreaking outcome but no accusations of ‘cheat’ and ‘thief’ against Henry will change the result. Ireland were the victims of a terrible injustice, but the country’s sporting public still tingled with pride over a great display.

The Irish players were understandably distraught afterwards and, at this level of sport, surely video evidence has to be available to officials in crucial moments of dispute. Despite the near world-wide sympathy for Ireland’s plight and widespread pleas for a re-match, FIFA were not for turning on the issue.

Having introduced a disgraceful eleventh hour seeding of the stronger nations in the play-offs, Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and their colleagues had helped to engineer the result they wanted. The French Football Federation, like FIFA, may have been left embarrassed by the controversy, but were in mood to hand back their passports to South Africa.

Of course, let’s not kid ourselves, if the roles were reversed Ireland would be equally uncompromising about granting a refixture. That is the way the system works and, unfortunately, the ball has bounced badly for the Irish on this occasion. Yet, none of this can justify the shocking demonisation of Henry over the past week. The French captain is a superb player and his instinctive handball was not the cause of Ireland’s World Cup exit – it was the match officials who didn’t see the incident. Sure, Henry comes across as both smug and arrogant, but he did express his sympathy to the Irish players and suggested that the best solution was a replay. He could have gone into hiding.None of this will change the fact that Ireland have unluckily bowed out of the World Cup. It’s an honourable failure, however, and Trapattoni has established a solid platform to build on for future campaigns.

Still, he can’t afford to be without the likes of midfielders Andy Reid and Stephen Ireland when qualification for the European championships kicks off late next year. Somebody is going to have to swallow some pride in the interim.

For more from John McIntyre see this week’s Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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

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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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