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Boost for Galway football



Date Published: 07-May-2013

 GALWAY is back where it belongs – at the summit of the country’s U21 football fraternity.

Galway’s young lions held on for a three points win over Cork in a pulsating All-Ireland U-21 final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Saturday, as captain Fiontán Ó Curraoin lifted the Clarke Cup, Galway’s second in three years, fourth since 2002, and fifth title in all.

A combination of devastatingly clinical accuracy in front of the posts, coupled with midfield dominance, especially in the aerial battle, and non-stop Duracell Bunny style workrate of the defence and forwards that tracked back, ensured Galway were crowned champions.

It was an exciting encounter that completely lacked any cynicism that has blighted the modern game – these were two natural footballing sides going hell for leather in a game that produced 27 scores, nearly one every two minutes, despite the slippery conditions.

The official crowd of 4,324 in attendance certainly got value for money as the quality of point scoring from Galway’s Ian Burke and Cathal Mulryan in particular, was at times breath-taking while Ó Curraoin’s high fielding was a joy to watch, too.

Though Cork were marginal favourites, it was Galway who always looked in control and led from pillar to post, although they did endure some jittery moments and went the last third of the game without scoring.

Galway had a blistering start, were five points to one up before Cork knew where they were, and to be leading at the break by 0-9 to 0-5 certainly didn’t flatter them.

Galway might have been worried a small bit when Cork fired over a quick brace immediately on the resumption of play but they blew away their opponents in a key nine minutes of the second half when they outgunned them by 1-5 to a point.

The Rebels, three-in-a-row Munster champions, didn’t lie down but even though they then hit 1-3 without reply, Galway always looked the better team and thoroughly deserved to triumph on a final score of 1-14 to 1-11.

“I’m delighted. I can’t believe what just happened there – it’s very hard to put it into words but I’m just delighted to get the win,” said Galway captain Fiontán Ó Curraoin, who said the win should provide a tonic to the county’s seniors.

“We’re looking forward to Mayo (in the Connacht senior championship) in two weeks and hopefully this success will start translating into senior . . . it’s definitely a boost for the seniors to see the U-21s win an All-Ireland.

“For myself and the rest of the lads that will be involved, it’s about time now that we start to push on and there’s a real sense in this team that we’ll be able to do that and hopefully we’ll be able to push on over the next couple of years,” said Ó Curraoin.

The man that masterminded the triumph, Alan Flynn, was generous in his praise for trusty lieutenants – selectors Paul Clancy and Declan Meehan – as well as to the players’ underage club coaches and recent former Galway minor managers, Gerry Fahy and Tommie Joyce, who had helped mould and sculpt these individuals into the best team in Ireland.

“It’s very satisfying and the biggest thing is that we performed on the day . . . I think today we played very good attacking, attractive football, moving the ball fast into the forward line. We would have felt all year, and maybe it wasn’t known outside of our own county, and maybe at times even in our own county they weren’t sure what we could offer really, but we felt all year if our forward line got enough ball they could do damage.

“With two guys like Fiontán (Ó Curraoin) and Tom (Flynn) in the middle of the field they give you a great platform to get the ball in there . . . I felt our defence, particularly in the first 20 or 25 minutes of the game was outstanding again today.”

Is this a golden era for Galway football at this grade, Flynn was asked. “I suppose it is, in the sense when you win two out of three it’s a pretty good return.”

For the full match report see today’s Sentinel and further reaction in Thursday’s 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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