Date Published: 03-Jan-2013
THE late Tommy Keane, who died suddenly last Friday, was widely regarded as one of the most gifted schoolboy soccer players ever to come out of Galway and has been regarded as a local legend ever since his starring role in Galway United’s FAI Cup success in 1991.
Keane, a native of Corrib Park, was the youngest member of the United team who captured the FAI Cup for the first and only time that May afternoon, and walked away with the Man of the Match award following the 1-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers at Lansdowne Road.
The sides were deadlocked with 86 minutes on the clock when the speedy winger whipped in a superb ball from the right for club captain and fellow Galway native Johnny Glynn to force home the game’s only goal, to spark off wild celebrations among the 7,000 or so fans who had travelled from the West for the final.
It was a fitting end to a wonderful campaign for Keane, who had scored in each of the earlier rounds against Shelbourne, Limerick, and St James’ Gate on the way to the final. Then United manager Joey Malone went on to describe Tommy as “probably the greatest player I ever worked with” after the breakup of that team.
Keane was seen as a special talent during his formative years with Corrib Rangers and West United, before current Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp – then in charge of Bournemouth FC – came to Galway to sign him as a teenager.
Eamon Howley of West United recalled that a special U-15 friendly was organised to allow Redknapp to check out the gifted youngster in the mid-1980s. Redknapp was hugely impressed by Keane’s talent and signed him on the spot.
Keane spent a few seasons with Bournemouth, before moving to Colchester United, but returned home to enjoy three fine campaigns with Galway United before spells at Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps, and Athlone Town.
He was a shy youngster, who let his football do the talking, but revelled in the atmosphere of a Galway United dressing-room which featured such talented locals as Eamon ‘Chick’ Deacy, one of his boyhood heroes, Noel Mernagh, Peter Carpenter, and Stephen Lally.
Derek ‘Buck’ Rodgers, who later won an FAI Cup medal with Keane in 1991, recalled this week that he was shocked to discover this relatively unknown youngster from Galway when they were both selected to play for the Republic of Ireland U-18 team against England in 1986.
“None of us knew anything about Tommy, but I will never forget when he turned up for the international in this bright Hawaiian-style t-shirt, while the rest of us were in tracksuits,” said Rodgers.
“There was pressure on the management to play him because he was with an English club and he hardly spoke a word for the two days.
“Tommy was a free spirit both on and off the pitch. He had the kind of talent which just could not be coached. He needed very little coaching and he could get goals out of nothing. He didn’t like training at the best of times, all he wanted was the big match days and the ‘craic’ with the lads.
“What an addition he was to that United side. He scored in every round of the 1991 FAI Cup up to the final. For two weeks up to the final, we kept practicing the same move in training with Assistant Manager Adrian Walsh. Tommy would cross the ball in from the right and it was the move which led to the winning goal. He was a thorn in the side of so many teams we came up against and he had unbelievable pace over 15 yards.”
Rodgers said United’s tactic at one stage was simply to “give the ball to Tommy”, because his form was so good, just as Manchester United play so much through the in-form Robin Van Persie this season. Tommy scored 26 goals during his three seasons with United, but rarely if ever spoke out in the dressing-room.
Before the Removal on New Year’s Day, one fan who is now in his 30s recalled that “in our house, Keane was like Diego Maradonna” while he was growing up. He was seen as the most gifted of a golden generation of Galway soccer players, many of whom enjoyed later successes with bigger clubs.
President Michael D. Higgins, the former President of Galway United FC, was among the large congregation at the Funeral Mass at the Sacred Heart Church, Seamus Quirke Road, on Wednesday; after the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) led tributes to Keane over the weekend.
Tommy had taken part in an indoor football tournament in memory of former player Noel Crowley at the OLBC Centre on Sea Road before he collapsed while making his way home to Ard an Choiste on the Headford Road.
He is survived by his partner, Paula O’Flaherty, son Tommy, parents Tommy Snr and Patricia, brothers Padraig, Mark, Derek, and Gerard, sister Philomena, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, and a wide circle of friends.
For more about Tommy Keane see this week’s Tribune
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Corinthians inflict a first home defeat of season on Banbridge
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Corinthians inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Banbridge in Rifle Park on Saturday, and in the process leap-frogged the Ulster club in the standings to move third in the table.
Both sides were testing each other early in the contest with the ground been very heavy and the two packs evenly matched. The visitors were first on the score board after 18 minutes with number eight Aaron Conneely driving his pack forward, allowing evergreen scrum-half Steve Bruce to get the ball out to his outside-half, Mick O’Flynn. The number 10 linked-up first centre Cian Begley and he in turn released to right winger Darrin Classens, who touched down in the corner for an unconverted try.
Banbridge had their opportunities also with second centre Andy Morrison having a go, but Begley stopped him in his tracks with the try-line at his mercy. O’Flynn then extended Corinthians’ lead with a penalty after Banbridge’s flanker Dale Carson was pulled for loitering in an offside position by IRFU referee Eddie Hogan O’Connor.
The Ulster side were punished again just before the break after a great turnover in the lineout by flanker Colin Parker with locks Gary Warde and Ultan Dillane doing the donkey work. Centre James Buckley was the one to benefit, pouncing on the loose ball and getting in for the try, with O’Flynn missing the conversion in what were very difficult conditions.
The home side got on to the score board five minutes with a penalty after Corinthians were pinged for pulling down the maul, scrum-half Ian Porter doing the honours from in front of the posts to leave the score at 13-3.
Banbridge upped their game after this and were ably led by their captain veteran second row Simon McKinstry, but the ball was turned over again and Corinthians’ full-back Conor Murphy secured a fine touch to relieve pressure.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Grave humour in a quirky story from Martin McDonagh trilogy
Date Published: 31-Jan-2013
Theatre director Andrew Flynn who has just been nominated for an Irish Times Theatre award for his most recent production, Port Authority, is currently preparing his next show, Martin McDonagh’s A Skull in Connemara.
“He’s working us like slaves,” jokes actor John Olohan, who doesn’t look a bit stressed as the cast enter the final week of rehearsals with Andrew’s company, Decadent Theatre.
A Skull in Connemara is the central play in McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy which was premiered by Druid Theatre in the late 1990s. It’s set in a graveyard, and centres around a Connemara man Mick O’Dowd whose job it is to exhume skeletons in an overcrowded graveyard. His newest customer is the wife he was accused of killing years before.
“It’s a very quirky situation – and funny, we hope,” says John, who plays Mick. “Martin’s plays are so at the edge of reality – they keep within the bounds but with a mad streak. And so it’s easy to play because everything fits in.”
John, one of the country’s busiest theatre actors, is a regular visitor to Galway. He most recently worked with Druid on that company’s DruidMurphy trilogy, appearing in Famine, the final of the three plays featured. Rehearsals began in Galway in April for DruidMurphy and, apart from a brief time in England, the company was here until the Arts Festival, after which they went on tour to locations from Clifden to Washington.
He was back on stage at the Town Hall in November in Living Dred’s production of the play Ride On.
He has previously performed in the Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Lonesome West with Decadent Theatre.
“It’s got to the stage that every time I walk into the Town Hall Theatre the girls say ‘welcome back John’,” he laughs.
John, who is married to actor, Catherine Byrne who plays Judith in Fair City – the couple have two adult sons – is one of the busiest actors in the country and has been working almost non-stop for the past 18 months.
“I can’t say I haven’t been lucky,” he says. But there’s more to it than luck – talent also plays a part.
Last year he won the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance as Byrne Druid’s production of John B Keane’s Big Maggie.
The Meath born actor worked on the TV series Glenroe for 10 years, having spent the previous decade working with the Abbey Theatre; he is a graduate of the Abbey School of Acting from the 1960s, having taken up drama after a brief period in a band. After graduating, he worked with Young Abbey company, doing work for schools and then joined the Irish Theatre Company, a national company dedicated to touring. So in a profession renowned for its insecurity, he has been busy all his life.
And he has no plans to retire. “I’m having a great time. And actors don’t retire,” he laughs.
These days, he usually gets called upon to play Irish characters, generally from a rural background and says that’s partly because there aren’t too many actors around to take on these roles.
“A lot of them gave up the game a long time ago and some are dead.”
Working in a black comedy such as A Skull in Connemara might seem a million miles away from his most recent role in Famine, Tom Murphy’s play about the great hunger of the 1840s, set in Mayo. But that’s not strictly true, he feels.
“Martin McDonagh is a different kind of writer to Tom, but there’s a kind of savagery and grittiness and roughness to his plays too, that becomes more apparent the more you delve into it.”
And there’s a lot of delving, literally as well as metaphorically. Owen McCarthy’s set, which he says is magnificent, has several graves dug and some to be dug.
“The set is straight out of [director] Tim Burton, it’s so gothic”.
John is joined by Bríd Ni Neachtain, a regular with the Abbey Theatre, who was most recently seen with Decadent in its production of Doubt early last year. Patrick Ryan and Jarlath Tivnan also feature in A Skull in Connemara.
The production opens in Galway on Monday and then goes on an extensive tour of the country.
John came late to touring, but he loves it. You are well looked after, he says. The shows are on at night, so you get to sightsee by day, if the weather is fine, otherwise you spend time in the hotel’s leisure centre. He sees no reason to complain about that.
He wouldn’t mind having a few weeks off before the next job, although he hopes saying that isn’t tempting fate.
For him, acting is like any other job – there’s no mystery to it.
“If you work hard at the business, it pays off. It’s like anything else, if you keep trying things, it will work out for you.”
A Skull in Connemara previews at the Town Hall from this Thursday January 31 until Saturday, February 2. It opens on Monday, February 4 and runs until February 9 before going on the road.
For tickets telephone 09156977 or online at www.tht.ie