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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

BallinasloeÕs young squad aiming to floor Armagh junior champs



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

A new chapter in the history of Ballinasloe football will be written at Breffni Park, Cavan, on Sunday when Sean Riddell’s young side take on Ulster champions An Port Mor of Armagh in the All-Ireland Junior semi-final (2pm).

It’s the first competitive game outside the province of Connacht in 33 years for Galway football’s ‘sleeping giant’ with the enticing prospect of an appearance at Croke Park on February 9 on offer for the winners of what should be a competitive tie.

Ballinasloe have romped through Connacht since overcoming a couple of tricky hurdles on their way to collecting the Galway junior title, which was their target for the campaign this time last year.

With a return to Intermediate football secured, Riddell’s youngsters really have nothing to lose – while their triumphant march to county and provincial titles has revived memories of the club’s glory days when they contested three Galway senior finals in a row between 1979 and ’81.

Intriguingly, the seniors of St Grellan’s never got to play in Croke Park when they reached the All-Ireland final back in 1980 – they lost by 3-9 to 0-8 to St Finbarr’s of Cork in Tipperary Town.

This team’s progression has provided rich rewards for an abundance of hard work at underage levels in the past ten to 15 years and the current side’s ‘do or die’ attitude was very much in evidence in the cliffhanger wins over Tuam and Clifden in the domestic championship.


They are a well-balanced side who really never know when they are beaten and have an inspirational leader in county panelist Keith Kelly, whose exploits at centre back have been among the key components in their dramatic run to reach the All-Ireland series.

Riddell, who recalls playing senior football with the club during their heyday, is determined to get Ballinasloe back among the county’s leading clubs but, for the moment, he is delighted just to have a shot at getting to Croke Park in a bid to emulate Clonbur’s achievement in winning the title outright last year.

Riddell went to Newry on a ‘spying mission’ to see the Armagh champions overcome Brackaville of Tyrone by 2-9 to 0-11 in November – and was impressed by the quality of the football produced by An Port Mor in the Ulster final.

“They are a nicely balanced side who play good football,” he said. “There was a bit of the physical stuff you’d expect from two Ulster side, but I was impressed by their performance.”

An Port Mor became the first Armagh side to win the provincial junior decider. First half goals from Shane Nugent and Christopher Lennon sent them on the road to victory, before a red card for Brackaville captain Cahir McGuinness eased their progress to the All-Ireland series.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Coalition promised an ocean of reform Ð but the wind has gone out of its sails



Date Published: 30-Jan-2013


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