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Connacht don’t know how to win



Date Published: 30-Dec-2010

The Sportsground isn’t much of a fortress this season. Just the one Magners League win way way back in September and nothing but utter frustration ever since. Monday’s defeat to Munster marked the lowlight in that sequence, a seventh straight loss and yet another by a heart breakingly tight margin.

It must have left many of the 4,703 pondering another spring of discontent and another pit end of the season with nothing to play for. This was the game to turn things around with the Ian Keatley ⁄ Darragh Fanning chance with five minutes remaining the opportunity to make a statement but Connacht’s out half botched it. No other way of putting it.

It wasn’t all down to one player, of course. Referee David Wilkinson also botched his big moment – he had a clear cut case for a penalty try when the wilting Munster pack dragged down the scrum as Connacht drove over the line on 80 minutes, but he chose the safe option.

A fifth ranked defence in the league with just 15 tries conceded, a total of five losing bonus points (a record for a Connacht team in a season) and a scrum that is right up there with the best in the league will keep the hope alive for now, but there is some discontent out there at the moment and their arguments are gathering legs.

Monday once again demonstrated the limits of where that progress can go with the current squad. On the evidence of this game and recent performances, only one of the starting backline is making a strong case for a contract next season, that’s the irrepressible Keith Matthews who was a shining light from kick off to the final three peeps of the whistle.

The rest are interchangeable with any number of players who have passed through the Connacht revolving doors in recent years and it’s time for one or two to awake from their slumber.

The aforementioned Keatley was excellent with the boot from placed kicks, landing four from five but the running game which lit up Connacht hearts back in September against the Dragons has long since died. Let’s hope he relocates his fire before he puts on the red of Munster rather than after.

Fionn Carr was an absolute shadow of his former self once again. He scored four tries in September and not a jot ever since. He’s now in the incredible position of preparing to join a Heineken cup winning squad in the summer and struggling to retain his place on a mid-level challenge cup team.

Up front, the scrum worked well with Rob Sweeney performing superbly against Munster’s big hope in kiwi Peter Borlase. The pack as a whole were not completely outplayed but the absence of an eight remains a huge problem. Ezra Taylor just doesn’t have the answers.

Connacht had their injury woes with John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy, Ray Ofisa and Brett Wilkinson all out, but Munster came without a number of front-line internationals.

What they did have though was experience, Alan Quinlan (before his nasty elbow injury) Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara and even Niall Ronan all played key roles in helping their side over the line.

Stringer’s turnover under his posts in the closing stages encapsulated everything the 33-year- old brings to his side. Young local stars like Ian Nagle and 20-year-old Paddy Butler can thrive in such an environment and they did so here.

For the full match report see page 32 of this week’s Tribunes.

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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