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Aggressive Gort carry too much fire for champs



Date Published: {J}

ARMED with the experience from having contested the county final in 2008, Gort hurlers travelled to Pearse Stadium last Sunday with a different mindset. They had got caught up with the occasion three years ago, but this time the mood was far more businesslike and that attitude was reflected on the pitch as they deservedly ended the reign of the All-Ireland club champions.

Traditionally, Gort teams have tended to be physical and hard-hitting. There is little standing on ceremony and the 2011 version of the South Galway men certainly lived up to that reputation with a highly tenacious and robust display which had Clarinbridge rattled almost from the throw-in. The challengers laid down the markers early on as the Kerins brothers, Mark and Alan, in particular, quickly found out.

Gort went for the early kill, with their high intensity and determined approach resulting in a significant six points to one lead after 13 minutes. Their players were almost frenzied in the tackle and pursuit of possession. Clarinbridge were being hounded all over the field and they didn’t like it. There was no time or space to weave their normal creative patterns and they struggled to establish any rhythm at all.


It’s not often that a team’s full back line is the catalyst for leading the way, but Gort’s trio of Andy Coen, Mark McMahon and Michael Cummins, who was outstanding, took the bull by the horns from the start. As a unit, they conceded little or no ground, attacked the ball with an almost manic desire and tackled with conviction. Their example was followed all over the field as the side’s greater hunger saw them secure most of the breaking ball, especially in that critical opening quarter.

Gort’s aggressive hurling had the champions on the retreat with impressive county player Aidan Harte soon leaving his mark on the final with a brace of neatly taken points. Three Gerry Quinn frees and the first score of the match from long serving midfielder Sean Forde had them five in front and the first quarter wasn’t even over. Mattie Murphy’s men were calling the shots and the ‘Bridge were already playing catch up.

The hard-working Shane Burke eventually opened his team’s account from play in the 14th minute, and though Clarinbridge had six points on the board by the interval, five of them were from Mark Kerins placed balls, as their normally fluent attack wasn’t given a moment’s peace. Still, the title holders were only 0-9 to 0-6 at the break, which wasn’t a bad position given Gort’s authority for much of that first-half.


Probably the score of the half came when McMahon surged out of the Gort defence and his delivery was gathered by influential veteran Ollie Fahy, who had pulled away from his full forward base, before splitting the Clarinbridge posts in the 19th minute. That cameo typified the match up to then – Gort were on their toes, sharper and performing with a higher intensity, but they still had work to do to claim their first county title since 1983.

Clarinbridge were never going to surrender meekly and they battled bravely to retrieve the deficit in the second-half. The switch of Shane Burke to midfield helped their cause, but they had still fallen 0-13 to 0-8 behind by the 48th minute after Harte struck his third point from play following the tireless Paul Killilea’s spadework. Gort were still in the driving seat, but within seven minutes the teams were level.

Though lively teenager Gerard Donoghue was on target for Gort during this period, Clarinbridge were to enjoy their most productive period with two points from Alan Kerins and a Mark Kerins free augmenting an opportunist goal from lively substitute Billy Lane after Peter Cummins had tried to prevent an Eoin Forde effort from going over the crossbar in the 46th minute. The momentum was now firmly with Clarinbridge and they looked to in a strong position when Stephen Forde gave them the lead for the first time in the match ten minutes later.

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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