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Connacht camp ready for huge Amlin Cup test



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

ABOUT two years ago, Connacht centre Niva Ta’auso hadn’t even heard of the province he now stars for. In fairness, there weren’t many in Connacht who had heard of Niva Ta’auso either. Connacht Manager, Tim Allnutt was one of the few.

The 30-years-old Samoan – who had moved to New Zealand aged 18 where he played rugby at Wesley College, which boasts alumni such as All-Black Jonah Lomu – was playing professionally for Super 14 side the Highlanders, when he was spotted by Kiwi Allnutt.

The former Junior All-Black arrived on these shores in October 2008 after several telephone conversations with fellow countrymen Ray Ofisa and Troy Nathan, who had already made the move to Connacht, convinced him of the career move.

The powerful running centre has become a regular in the Connacht side since his first appearance, a memorable and historic win over Munster at the Sportsground in December last season.

His parents, who christened him Manu O Niniva Ta’auso – although he uses the shortened version for the benefit of a former coach who couldn’t pronounce his name and for the benefit of radio and TV rugby commentators – had never heard of Connacht two years ago either but are now devoted fans of the province, too.

“It’s tough when they are on the other side of the world and it’s hard for them to see the games,” says Ta’auso, but adds he will be sending a video recording of Friday night’s semi-final clash with Toulon, one of Connacht’s most important ever games and Ta’auso’s biggest match with the Province.

Since his move, the crowd at the Sportsground has embraced Motootua-born Ta’auso as if he were reared in Monivea, something he appreciates and he feels the supporters will be a massive advantage when Connacht welcomes the French outfit to College Road for the province’s first European semi-final in five seasons.


“This year, nearly every game has been packed at the Sportsground so that’s good and a big crowd really helps the lads,” he says.

“We’ve come on well this year and the togetherness and hard work is paying dividends for us. We’re pretty confident and we’ve played good rugby in the last few weeks because of all the hard work we put in last year. We just want to continue with that.

“It’s about self-belief. We take every game as it comes and we have just believed that we’ll get the win every game, especially at home. It’s our home ground, which is a positive and I know Toulon have big players and a big squad but I’m confident with our team. It’s a massive game for us and we have to be confident and look at the positives. Our self-belief is strong and we believe we can win any game we play.”

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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