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Big chance for footballers to start on winning note



Date Published: {J}


GALWAY footballers travel North into the heart of Patrick Kavanagh country for their opening league match of the 2011 campaign on Sunday (2.30) hoping that their pilgrimage to Inniskeen can yield them two critical league points.

And while Kavanagh’s connections with the GAA may be confined to the boots he helped cobble together with his show-making father, the village nestled in the rolling hills of East Monaghan, has a rich footballing tradition.

That’s the past though and when the footballers of Galway and Monaghan trot out onto Pairc Grattan shortly after two o clock on Sunday, the present will be very much on their minds – the side that loses this tie in a highly competitive Division One of the league, will be early favourites to slip through the relegation trapdoor.

Ambitions in both counties for the season ahead could best be described as modest with Monaghan looking to be in a state of greater distress than Galway, due to a spate of defections under the new regime of Eamon McEneaney, but as always the real talking is to be done on the field.

Tomás Ó Flatharta faces a no less onerous task in his first year in charge of Galway, after a disastrous championship campaign last year ending in a Connacht semi-final exit at the hands of Sligo before an ignominious qualifiers defeat to Wexford in Pearse Stadium.

Galway of course do have a lot of history and tradition behind them, as well as a fair packet of All-Ireland titles, but over recent years the county has struggled to be competitive in the heat of championship battle. There’s a lot of ground to be made and very few handy solutions.

At least Tomás Ó Flatharta had the good sense to start off with a very modest and humble wish list – his simple mantra being to improve a little with every match – but the league allows very little room for experimentation or error, if the competition is viewed as an end in itself.

Trials, some of them possible of doubtful virtue, and hard training sessions tend to characterise the early days of January for the modern day Gaelic footballer and it would take a fair pundit to predict the starting Galway fifteen for Sunday’s encounter.

Galway did have three January FBD league matches, chalking up wins against Sligo and Sligo IT, but slipping up ‘in the middle’ to a jaunty NUI Galway side. Whether Ó Flatharta was any the wiser after those three close encounters is debatable.

Definitely out of Sunday’s starting line-up are Michael Meehan and Padraic Joyce, a fair blow to any attack before a ball is kicked.

Indeed Meehan is likely to be out for most – if not all – of the league following the nasty ankle injury he suffered in last Summer’s championship replay against Sligo in Markievicz Park while Joyce is out with back and leg trouble, but should resume action over subsequent league ties.

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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