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1996 camogie final hero believes Galway can do it



Date Published: {J}

FORMER Galway camogie star Denise Gilligan knows all about the highs and lows of sport. She has seen it all . . . be it collecting the Player of the Match accolade when guiding the Tribeswomen to their one and only senior All-Ireland victory in 1996 or sustaining an injury which, in effect, ended her playing days with the county.

This Sunday, Galway’s senior camogie side – under the direction of manager Noel Finn – will seek to bridge the 15-year-gap since the county’s last All-Ireland triumph. For Gilligan, who bagged two vital goals in the Westerners’ 4-8 to 1-15 victory over Cork in the ’96 decider, this time of year evokes warm and happy memories. Nostalgia reigns.

“When that final whistle went, it was pure shock and elation and it was just a feeling that I can’t describe,” recalls Gilligan, who returned to her native Craughwell from London, where she now works as an Education Accounts Manager, for her cousin Fergal Healy’s recent wedding to another local girl, Karen Ryan.

“I remember, afterwards, walking across the Shannon with the [O’Duffy] cup and [RTE commentator] Marty Morrissey driving past and we all shaking the living daylights out of his car,” she laughs. “Another memory was coming into my own village here in Craughwell at 2 o’clock in the morning and seeing my grandparents out in the crowd that was waiting for us. It had taken us about eight hours to come down from Dublin.

“Dancing at the crossroads in Gortymadden was another memory, but, you know, the celebrations really went on for a year afterwards. We brought the cup the length and breadth of Galway and the amount of media coverage we got was absolutely fantastic. Ten years later, I still had people coming up to me and saying ‘I remember you playing in the ’96 final’. It was really good.”

No doubt, Gilligan – who, at 18 years of age, was the second youngest member of the team after 16-year-old Veronica Curtin – was a name on everyone’s lips in those days, particularly after her towering performance in the All-Ireland final. It earned her the Player of the Match award.

“To be fair, though, Sharon Glynn was responsible for the two goals I scored,” states ‘Gilly’. “I remember the first one; I will never forget it. It was coming up to half-time – it was 12-a-side at the time and there were four forwards – and Imelda Hobbins, Martina Harkin and Veronica Curtin had all scored and I was the only forward that hadn’t scored. I was like ‘if I don’t do something quick, I am in trouble’.

“I remember a big, long, high ball coming in from Sharon Glynn and it bounced in the square. I was literally on my knees and I had to dive for it and it ended up in the back of the net. We had been about six points down at that stage. Then at half-time, the referee gave us another point on the scoreboard because he hadn’t registered one of Sharon Glynn’s frees in the first half. So, we were only down two points at the break.

“Then, in the second half, about 10 minutes in, another big, long ball from Sharon landed in front of me. I ran onto it, let fly, and it went into the far corner. I think I knew then that we had a chance. With Sharon putting the frees over, Martina Harkin got the next goal before Dympna Maher got another. Once we had the four goals, we were on our way.”

An All-Ireland senior medal, the world was at Gilligan’s feet. Already, she had claimed minor and junior All-Irelands with the Tribeswomen in ’94 while she also collected a brace of national medals in the mid-‘90s with St. Brigid’s Vocational School. The trophy cabinet was filling, and, she believed, it would continue to do.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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