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Walsh’s homework on his own county yields good results

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Date Published: 14-Jun-2012

Dara Bradley

IT perhaps wasn’t a fair question. Sligo manager Kevin Walsh had just done what none of his predecessors could achieve in 28 previous attempts since 1909 – he had masterminded the Yeats County’s first ever away win on Galway soil in the Connacht senior football championship.

But it had to be asked: Did Kevin Walsh the man, rather than Kevin Walsh the manager, feel in any way torn at having got one over on his native county, the county he served with distinction for over a decade?

 

“Sure look it, as the man says, I leave home every night from Galway, four nights training a week, to be honest with you this is what I’m doing at the moment. I’ve had four years up there in Sligo. I know a lot of the lads inside in that Galway dressing room there, and obviously you’d have a certain feeling and hoping that they pick themselves up and move on but when someone comes in the way of what I’m doing, I have to do my very best, that’s the way it is,” said the Killanin man.

 

And boy did he do his best, which was more than good enough to dump the Tribesmen into the qualifiers, with a convincing five points, 2-14 to 0-15 triumph, Sligo’s biggest winning margin over Galway in 37 years.

As Galway manager Alan Mulholland said beforehand, Walsh knows Galway football intimately; and as the Salthill man remarked afterwards, Walsh had his homework done. You’d have to take your hat off to Walsh, he ‘did a number’ on Galway.

What we learned from the demolition of Roscommon in the first round was that Galway’s full-forward line can be explosive; what Sligo taught us on Saturday was shut down the supply of quick, direct ball, and Galway will struggle.

Full-forward Paul Conroy, in fairness, did pose a threat – he was fouled for three of Galway’s converted frees and scored three points from play, which was not quite as sensational as the Roscommon match but a decent return nonetheless. Still, Walsh knew Galway’s full-forwards were lethal if given the space, so Sligo suffocated them – and the maroon and white never got a sniff of a goal over the 70 minutes.

“They had us worked out fairly well and they frustrated us, they bottled us up. They did foul us a lot, we only got two points from play in the first half, and the rest were from frees, so they were working on us.They didn’t want us to build up any momentum; they didn’t want us to get any movements going,” said a dejected Mulholland afterwards.

 

The ploy worked, and Sligo certainly stopped Galway from playing, particularly in the second half, while turning on the style themselves at the other end after the break, with Adrian Marren in devastating form, scoring 2-6, although you couldn’t but lament the naivety of leaving the full-forward and corner-forward David Kelly isolated inside.

Deploying a wing forward to drop back to act as insurance for the last line of defence that was under serious pressure, might not have been pretty, and perhaps doesn’t fit in with the traditional stylish philosophy of Galway football, but it might have been effective at shutting down what was a rampant Sligo attack.

It was interesting afterwards how the Sligo camp summed up the importance of psychology going into this clash. Galway were raging hot favourites, yet Sligo never feared them, and in their own heads, couldn’t understand the bookies’ odds nor foresee a scenario where they would be beaten. “We had no doubt whatsoever but that we were going to win this game in Salthill,” declared Sligo’s Charlie Harrison in the tunnel on his way to the winning dressing room.

“To be honest we knew we didn’t get things off the ground in the first half. We didn’t start playing and Galway probably thought that is all we had. We knew we had a good second half in us and fair play to Kevin Walsh and his backroom team, I felt as prepared as I have ever been for a Connacht Championship match,” added the wing back.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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

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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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