Date Published: 14-Apr-2011
THE rock band, Queen may have thought Barcelona’s greatest attraction was its ‘beautiful horizon’, but for one Tuam man, he would argue that the Spanish city’s greatest asset is its football club.
For the last decade, 32-year-old Derek Hynes has been travelling four to eight times a year to Spain to watch his favourite side in action. For Hynes, the whole experience – from getting on the bus in Tuam at 2am to taking his seat in Camp Nou – is just addictive.
On an overcast Friday morning, Hynes takes time out from his nine to five job at the family business – Hynes Sweet Shop in Tuam – to relax with a smouldering cup of brew in a nearby coffee house, where the avid reader can be found on many a day with a book in hand.
Hynes is excited – visibly so – and for good reason. Next week, he heads over to watch his beloved Barcelona once again, but this is a trip like no other. As a dedicated Barcelona fan, he has been entering the club’s lottery for Barça v Real Madrid tickets for the past 10 years, and, just recently, his name finally came out of the hat.
So, next Wednesday, Hynes, who has already been over to support the Catalan club twice this year, will travel to Valencia for the meeting of Barcelona FC and Real Madrid – two of the giants of Spanish and world football – in the prestigious Copa Del Rey (King’s Cup) final. It’s a massive, massive occasion.
In fact, let’s just put that meeting of Barça and Real into context. Whenever these two sides play each other, the whole of Spain virtually comes to a standstill for what the locals describe as ‘El Classico’. Indeed, most people in Spain are divided up into Barça and Real fans, with those in the other Spanish cities, towns and villages not only loyal to their own local team, but also throwing their support behind one of the two bitter rivals.
For Hynes, his love of Barcelona football goes back to
a childhood tour of the stadium and evenings spent at his late grandfather’s James home, watching Spanish football games on an old satellite station. “He (James) had the channels, so we used to watch those games with him, although he was more of a GAA fan himself,” begins Hynes. “Actually, he used to train greyhounds, and he was supposed to be fairly good at it.
“Anyway, back then, (Johan) Cruyff was manager and they had (Ronald) Koeman, (Michael) Laudrup, (Hristo) Stoichkov and (Josep) Guardiola. That would have been around 1990. Then in ’91, Barça lost the European Cup Winners Cup final (2-1) to Man. United and that hurt. So, that is when I knew I liked them. I was in sixth class at the time.”
In any event, while the eyes of his peers were firmly fixed on English teams – such as Man. United, Liverpool and Arsenal – Hynes continued to nurture his love for all things Barcelona. “My first game, though, wasn’t until I was 22. That was in 2001, Barcelona versus Racing Santander, and Ronaldinho had just started playing with them.
“I was so nervous before the game, I nearly didn’t go. I was shaking and everything. I was so bad. But when I got there, and I was in my seat, I was good. Ever since then, I have been going between four and eight times a year. I was hooked after that first game,” beams the former St. Jarlath’s student, who played the game with local teams until he was 18.
Over the years, though, he has watched this Barça team develop into a formidable outfit. “Yeah, like my first game, Ronaldinho was just starting out. I have also seen (Lionel) Messi, Xavi (Hernandez Creus), (Carlos) Puyol, Deco (Anderson Luís de Souza), (Samuel) Eto (now Inter Milan), (Victor) Valdes and my favourite Dani Alves – the cheekiest player in football – all come into the team over the last decade. Alves I love. He just winds up everyone. All the Barça fans love him and everyone else can’t stand him,” laughs Hynes.
Not surprisingly, he also has his finger on the pulse on what is happening in the club and a player who he describes as the next big thing in football is a youngster named Thiago Alcántara do Nascimiento. “Thiago is the new, young lad to look out for. He also has a younger brother Rafinha. They are both in the ‘B’ team at the moment, but they are the next big thing in football, especially Thiago.
“Thiago plays midfield; he plays for Spain’s U-18s. He is actually the son of a Brazilian World Cup winner. His father is Mazinho, who won a medal at the ‘94 World Cup. Mazinho was one of the three guys, alongside Bebeto and Romário, who did the baby victory celebration (in the quarter-final win over Holland).”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Galway County VEC Chief takes High Court case
Date Published: 07-May-2013
The High Court is hearing arguments from the state in an action brought by two VEC bosses who are challenging the loss of an annual allowance worth 12 and a half thousand euro.
Former president of the GAA Joe McDonagh who’s the CEO of County Galway VEC and Dr Katie Sweeney, CEO of Mayo VEC, say a special Transport Liaison Officers Allowance should not have been cut, even though that part of their role no longer operates.
Lawyers for the Department of Education deny the allowance is part of their pay.
The case is in the context of planned changes within the VEC system under the Croke Park agreement.
Planning go ahead for community facility in Doughiska
Date Published: 09-May-2013
A hotel in the city is to be changed into a community facility.
Planning permission has been granted to DRA Community Development Company Limited to redevelop the ‘Racing Lodge Hotel’ in Doughiska.
It’s planned to use the building for community, educational and pastoral use.
Planners have attached 4 conditions to the development, including the stipulation that all uses at the building be on a not-for-profit basis.
Galway call for Transport Minister to intervene in bus strike
Date Published: 13-May-2013
City Councillor Michael Crowe is calling on the Transport Minister Leo Vradkar to urgently intervene to end strike action by Bus Eireann in Galway.
Major travel disruption is expected in Galway and nationwide as the national strike enters its second day.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing their picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city.
It’s understood up to 80 Galway workers took part in the picket on rotational rosters yesterday.
Speaking on Galway Talks, City Cllr Michael Crowe said Minister Vradkar needs to take urgent action to intervene so that transport services can be restored.