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Connacht Tribune

Tribesmen below their best in a physical showdown



Galway attacker Cathal Mannion is chased by Kilkenny's Richie Reid during Sunday's Leinster hurling final at Croke Park.

Galway 0-18

Kilkenny 0-18

THERE are a number of ways to look at the outcome of this game – and, indeed, Galway’s below-par performance – but when it really comes down to it, the Tribesmen did exceptionally well not to lose a game that, in years gone by against Kilkenny, they most certainly would have.

For not one among the 40,703 people in attendance – or hundreds of thousands watching on TV – could say that Micheal Donoghue’s men played well or delivered a display befitting their stature as both reigning provincial and All-Ireland champions in a cagey yet uncompromising Leinster senior hurling final at Croke Park on Sunday.

Yes, Galway toiled and laboured honestly. They tackled hard and ferociously. They even conjured up some fine scores. Yet, for all that, there were just too many mistakes, poor touches, questionable decision-making in possession and a general malaise in their play that Galway supporters have not seen in quite a while.

The thing is, it is rare to see a Galway team play badly and still get a result – indeed, how often have they played well and come out the wrong side of it? – and if there is one over-riding positive from last Sunday’s Leinster final draw against Kilkenny it is that. A lesser team would have been beaten by the Cats. The Tribesmen weren’t.

Whatever way Micheal Donoghue and his management team approach the replay at Semple Stadium, Thurles this Sunday though is crucial. They have a great deal to work on but three key areas they will most definitely focus on will be their use and retention of possession; their decision-making, especially at seminal moments; and closing out the game when it is there for them.

From the early stages, however, it was clear this was not a Galway side on song. In the forwards, in particular, they were constantly getting turned over – that was when they could manage to get their hands on ball ahead of an extremely combative Kilkenny defence.

In this regard, full-back Padraig Walsh was heroic while the Cats half-back line of Joey Holden, the impressive Cillian Buckley and Enda Morrissey robbed enough of Galway’s puckouts throughout to put the Westerners’ attack on the backfoot and under pressure.

The Galway forwards were not helped also that the distribution from deep was not clean or concise as it could have been – but, again, when the management and players run through their analysis this week they will be alarmed with both the nature of the turnovers against them and the high volume of unforced errors they committed.

That should be the starting point for a discussion that should also throw the microscope on a number of players in terms of their decision-making and, again, the forwards will be questioned in this respect.

Both Conor Whelan and Cathal Mannion scoffed goal chances midway through the first half with ambitious first time pulls when they might have taken the ball in hand and executed the shot from there. Maybe they felt the time and opportunity wasn’t there to do so but, either way, both should have done better.

Whelan, who always looks a threat in fairness, should also have laid off left or right when Galway had conjured up a goal chance on 45 minutes while, six minutes later, you then had Joe Canning endeavouring to prise open the Kilkenny defence – only for his pass to be intercepted – when, you could argue, that it may have been more prudent to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Adults and young pupils collaborate on children’s book now in the shops



A new book – a collaborative collection of stories and poems written by the Oughterard Writers Group and the children from the local primary school – was officially launched in style last week.

Tell me a Story was officially launched at Scoil Chuimín agus Caitríona, Oughterard, by the principal, Micheál O’Domhnaill – to the delight of the children, parents, friends and writers in attendance and those watching live on zoom.
by Jess Walsh and Barbara Dunne
Tell Me a Story is a collaboration between the Oughterard Writers Group and the children of last year’s 4th class from Scoil Chuimín agus Catríona. It had its genesis in January when the writers applied to Galway County Council for funding for the story book.

The book is the culmination of several months’ work, where stories and poems written by the writers, were sent to the children.

The group was unable to meet the children in person, due to Covid restrictions, but met them several times on Zoom, facilitated by Pete Mullineaux, and James O’Donnell, their teacher. And after months of hard work by the children, their handwritten work and illustrations were then passed back to the writers for design and completion.

Each story in the book tells a different tale. The children responded to the story they liked best, and the book is interspersed with wonderful drawings from the children, with new story endings and poems, along with some of the children’s own handwriting.

It was a special night for all to finally meet in person at the official launch.

The children were presented with their contributor copy by the writer of the piece they worked on, and guests were treated to some selected readings from the book by the children themselves.

The evening was rounded off by Muinteoir J O Donnell reading his poem, Last Night’s Wind from the book, and it was a very fitting ending to a wonderful evening.

The book costs €10 (with 50% of profits being donated Scoil Chuimín agus Caitríona) and can be bought online from Kenny’s and Charlie Byrne’s bookshops in Galway, and from Moycullen Bookshop and shops in Oughterard.

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Connacht Tribune

Landowners see red at poor greenway dialogue



A decision on the route chosen for the greenway between Athlone and Galway City is expected to be announced before Christmas – despite the vehement opposition of a group of landowners.

Opponents staged another protest outside County Hall last Monday to up the pressure on councillors to continue to voice disquiet over the way the project is being pursued by Galway County Council and RPS consultants.

Jean Molloy from Stoney Island outside Portumna, a member of the East Galway Action Group, said there was a complete lack of respect by the project team for the major stakeholders who had the most to lose – those whose land would be taken by the greenway.

Her family, who run a small farm on the land earmarked for the route, had received two letters from the team and not a single phone call over their concerns. She had attended public meetings to outline their preferred route but believes the consultants are not listening.

“We’re expected to give up everything but yet we don’t see a real benefit in the way the route is going as it doesn’t connect villages or neighbours, our kids can’t use it to cycle to school,” she insisted.

“The preferred route is in remote areas off-road, which may suit tourists a few times a year but won’t be safe for us. Why can’t they go along the road, as long as it’s segregated? Yet, we’re expected to give up our livelihoods, our privacy, our security.”

The campaigners allege the process has been flawed from the start.

They accuse those driving the project of “underhanded” tactics and adopting a “divide and conquer approach” and say consultants have failed to engage with every landowner and resident affected in the route corridor. They allege the team is refusing to meeting landowners in groups.

“They have told landowners that a final route is to be released before Christmas, but this is just not feasible. It’s important that the general public is made aware of how the individuals at the centre of the proposed cycleway are being treated.”

Director of service in the infrastructure and operations unit of Galway County Council, Derek Pender, has refuted claims of intimidation and a lack of engagement.

Last September he insisted they had undertaken well over 1,500 face-to-face or phone call consultations with 350 potentially impacted private landowners over 15 months.

The preferred route starts near Ballyloughane Beach, east of Galway City, passing through Oranmore, Rinville, Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan, Kinvara, Gort, Woodford, Portumna, Meelick, Clonfert, Ballinasloe, Shannonbridge, and finishing at Athlone Castle before linking with the cycleway to Dublin.

He claimed there was support for approximately 90% of the route and that the so-called hybrid model – where the cycleway would go along a national or regional road – would only be used in discreet isolated areas that were specific pinch points.

Cycleways beside long stretches of road were not safe, he has previously contended.

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Connacht Tribune

Clifden roster dispute escalates despite HSE recruitment



Staff at both a hospital and nursing home in Clifden are balloting for industrial action over changes to the rosters – despite a targeted recruitment campaign for nurses that has resulted in over 20 applications.

Last week Clifden District Hospital – beset by critical staff shortages – closed for four days with the HSE claiming that no patients were booked into the facility with respite and step-down beds for recuperating patients who can be medically discharged from an acute hospital but deemed not well enough to go home.

This was the same week when the HSE admitted that 4,662 bed days were lost at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park and 1,295 at Portiuncula Hospital in the first nine months of this year due to delayed discharges.

The HSE said the four days could be used by staff at Clifden District Hospital and St Anne’s Community Nursing Unit to take leave accrued due to overtime they had built up over filling in shifts due to a lack of workers.

Anne Burke, Galway industrial relations officer for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said the union did not accept there was no demand for beds in a facility such as the Clifden District Hospital.

“They have orchestrated this downgrading of the hospital because we believe they want it for another purpose which they have not yet revealed. If you don’t advertise you’re open for business you won’t get the business. We think they don’t want it to be a viable option,” she exclaimed.

“They have always told us that staff weren’t interested in coming to Clifden. But there was no meaningful recruitment. Now, finally, they advertised specifically for jobs in Clifden, and we have been told that 29 applications were submitted and 21 are deemed eligible for interview, which we understand will take place next week.”

The INMO and SIPTU [Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union] are to ballot members from the two facilities for industrial action next week over changes to the rosters.

They claim the HSE is breaching the Building Momentum public service agreement which requires changes to rosters to be done by agreement between management and staff. A previous memo withdrawing the staff right to seven uncertified sick leave days was rescinded following lengthy talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Over 700 people attending a public meeting last September over fears Clifden District Hospital was being closed by the HSE. The hospital has had 12 beds for patients since the Covid pandemic, down from 30 some years ago.

After meeting with local politicians, the organisation issued a press release stating the facility would not close but said the respite and step-down services “remain on a day-to-day footing” due to staff shortages.

“The HSE has agreed to meet with GPs in the Clifden area to discuss the needs in the community for respite and step-down beds.”

They also announced they would run a ‘bespoke’ recruitment campaign for nurses.

The INMO estimates that seven additional nurses are needed for the hospital and a further six are required for the nursing unit to maintain rosters.

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