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Treatment of club players in Galway a disgrace



Date Published: 12-Aug-2011

THE demon inside me just wants to scream. I put my head in my hands, as my fingers search for the little men who have taken a tango hammer to my brain. The throbbing eases and I contemplate resigning – even reconciling – myself to the situation. After all, you are dealing with Galway GAA.

However, the demon inside me screams again, wildly. The message is clear: ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.’ I reach for the keyboard and hit the reply button to the email to the club’s juvenile chairman, before indulging in a rant. I punch the keys so hard my fingers threaten to bleed. My nostrils are flaring. I am beyond anger; beyond rage. I sign off the email: “It’s a ******* disgrace.”

To explain my ire, I have to reach for my other hat . . . that of Craughwell U-16 hurling manager.

Breaking point came the other morning when the email arrived from our juvenile chairman, when he informed me that in the middle of the U-16 hurling championship, Galway Juvenile Football Board were running their league finals, in which Craughwell are involved. It’s not enough to be running their U-16 football championship simultaneously (it begins for Craughwell on August 16), but, as a matter of urgency, the league finals have to played in this timeframe as well!

Just to put it into perspective what next week is like for a number of Craughwell’s U-16s. This Saturday, our county players can either travel with Galway to play a challenge match against Dublin or field for their club in the Division 2 West U-16 League Shield Final at 1:15pm. Come on lads, make a decision!

Next day, the club will offer them a rest day, because on Monday they face Oranmore/Maree in the hurling championship. Then, on Tuesday, they will face Dunmore McHales in the opening round of the football championship; on Wednesday, they will train with the county U-16s in Athenry; on Thursday or Friday, they will have either hurling or football training with the club; before they face Clare in a challenge in Gort on the Saturday.

Of course, that all is dependent on either Board not fixing another game of some sort for later in the week! By the way, did I mention that they have already had to play two hurling championship games this week, along with fulfilling their county duties?

Sure, we might as well publicly flog these kids altogether and be done with it. Still, they won’t – or can’t – complain, because who will listen to a 14, 15 or 16 year-old? And if they do say something, what will be the consequences?

It’s crazy. Nothing for almost seven months and then you try and squeeze every U-16 hurling game – and, in football, any outstanding league games – into the same four to six week time period.

It’s a disgrace. What about player burnout? In addressing issues of verbal abuse, in particular to referees, the GAA has adopted the slogan ‘Give Respect, Get Respect’. But how about showing some of that same respect to our stars of the future?

No wonder there is so much discontent, frustration and anger among the genuine GAA folk in Galway, at both juvenile and senior levels. Most clubs are fighting tooth and nail to promote our great games, but at times like this you just feel it is a losing battle. As a journalist, as a club official (PRO), as a coach and club coaching officer, as a new parent, I say enough is enough.

It’s time to get the FIVE boards to pay attention. And it’s time for the clubs – juvenile and senior alike – to demand the respect their players deserve. All clubs should threaten to withdraw all support of inter-county activities until the serious issues of this county are addressed. Or set up the equivalent of the GPA (Gaelic Players Association) by establishing the GCA or Gaelic Clubs Association to have their grievances heard.

For, at the moment, the clubs of this county seem to have little or no rights and that, quite simply, is a FIVE star shambles.


For the full article see this week’s Tribunes

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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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