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Connacht get there Ð at last!



Date Published: {J}

Connacht 26

Edinburgh 13

Rob Murphy

OPTIMISM surrounds the Sportsground these days. Connacht haven’t exactly gone on some sort of headline grabbing run since the Harlequins Heineken Cup win in January, but they haven’t stood still either. Points are being garnered from game to game, improvements are measurable and hope springs eternal.

The next few months are largely about 2012/13 and whether Eric Elwood in conjunction with the PGB (Professional Games Board) can build a squad that can be considerably more competitive in next season’s Rabo Direct Pro 12. They undoubtedly have observed the transformation in Glasgow from basement dwellers to play off chasers and said: ‘why not us?’

The signing of kiwi prop Nathan White to a three year contract last week was a clear statement of intent – other big names are also being linked to the province – but the core will remain the same and their form in the remaining six games of this season will be a hugely important gauge, so watching them secure a solid if not spectacular victory on Friday was encouraging for all and sundry.

Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh side have been a revelation in Europe but a fairly mediocre force in this competition. They have now slipped back to second bottom after this defeat. Connacht were well aware that this was one of those must-win games that have proved a stumbling block time and again, but this time they delivered off the back of a strong first-half display.

When Mike McCarthy scampered over after a brilliant inside pass from John Muldoon in injury time to seal the win, a sigh of relief was no doubt the first reaction from management. The four month run without a Rabo Direct Pro 12 win was over and for the first time in a long while, Connacht could look up rather than down.

The game itself from a Connacht viewpoint was about managing momentum and at one point in the second half wrestling it back from a suddenly rampaging Edinburgh side. The first quarter had seen the Scots monopolise possession and territory, but offer little of substance. A disciplined home defence was helping.

An Italian referee who certainly didn’t take a shine to the men in red also aided Connacht as by full time the penalty count was 14-6 against Edinburgh, the irony of being on the wrong end of such refereeing at the Sportsground must not have been lost on Michael Bradley, returning to his old stomping ground for the first time. That said, he was gracious in defeat.

The visitors were missing eight with Scotland and it showed. They don’t have the depth that their rivals from Glasgow possess and their season is all about one game, Toulouse on the second weekend in April. They were 3-0 down here on 20th minute when Niall O’Connor slotted from long range to break the deadlock.

Despite the scarcity of scores in the early action, the game was compelling and exciting. Connacht were first to notch a try, the ever improving Fetu Vainikolo got it. He’s rarely used in the red zone backline attacks but that might change after he took a brilliant inside line and was found with a well judged pass from O’Connor. The Derry born out half kicked the conversion for a 10-0 half time lead.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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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