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Connacht Tribune

The warning signs were there as Galway surrender McCarthy Cup

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Galway players Joe Canning, Conor Whelan and Colm Callanan, along with team manager Micheál Donogue, show their despair after losing to Limerick in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT wouldn’t have taken TV super sleuths like Ironside, Mannix or Columbo long to realise that Galway hurlers were vulnerable in last Sunday’s All-Ireland final after sifting through all the various pre-match evidence.

I was partially fearful that Galway would be beaten too, but when you are a former manager of the county hurlers and a few of those players are still involved, never mind working the Connacht Tribune for nearly 38-years, it wouldn’t have been appreciated to strike a discordant note ahead of the sport’s biggest occasion.

Too many were being dazzled by Galway early blitzes in their replay against Kilkenny and the two battles with Clare. Being taken to replays by both the Banner and the Cats did not fit the profile of a team which was generally considered unbeatable at the start of the championship. They only edged out Dublin by a point as well and though supporters dismissed that result as the game was a dead rubber, the warning signs were there.

Obviously, a marathon eight-match campaign left Galway carrying some wear and tear ahead of the showdown, but it was still a surprise just how much they were off the pace. This was the heaviest one-point defeat ever in an All-Ireland final. The champions only got so close through sheer force of will and character. In similar circumstances, past Galway teams would have been beaten out the gate.

This latest final defeat – the county’s seventh since 1988 – should make us appreciate all the more Galway’s all-conquering run through the league and championship in 2017. They were the team to be shot at from the start of this year’s campaign and though their displays were riddled with inconsistency, they always found a way to survive.

Defending a 13-match championship was no accident, but a lot of the Galway players were stuck in neutral last Sunday. Limerick shook them with their intensity and though Joe Canning, Padraic Mannion, David Burke and Joseph Cooney all had some great moments, this quartet’s collective efforts could not compensate for the troubles all around them.

With even the Galway camp admitting afterwards that it would have constituted “robbery” if they had salvaged a draw in the dying seconds, it reflects the overall trend of the final just as much as their own difficulties. They just weren’t as sharp as Limerick. Too many players were caught in possession; clearances were mis-directed; and they also struggled to couple to cope with the Treaty men’s successful puck-out strategy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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