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Connacht hoping to pick up where they left off



Date Published: {J}

CONNACHT return to action after a five week break when they bid to register a rare away win – and make it four victories from five competitive outings – against the Cardiff Blues at the new Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

This showdown with the team who are immediately above them at the foot of the table affords Connacht a chance to lift themselves off the basement and marks captain John Muldoon’s 100th game in the Magners League.

For their part, the Blues will hope to avenge their 18-16 defeat at the Sportsground in September. The Welsh club will have a host of internationals to call upon, but they may appear vulnerable as three of their leadings players, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, and Andy Powell are away on duty with the Barbarians this weekend.

Even without those three, there will be no less than seven members of the Welsh squad on show for Dai Young’s team, including Tom Shanklin, Gareth Cooper, Tom James, Bradley Davies, Martyn Williams, Sam Warburton, and Gethin Jenkins.

As if that line-up is not strong enough, centre Shanklin will face strong competition for a starting place from New Zealand star Casey Laulala, who arrived from Canterbury this week.

“We will be sending our very best team to Cardiff,” said Muldoon, who celebrated his birthday this week. “We know the Blues will be still reeling after their defeat at the Sportsground in September. But we firmly believe that on our day we can beat anyone.”

Connacht finished the last sequence of matches on a high thanks to a 16-10 win over the Scarlets on October 30. The manner of that win should give Michael Bradley’s men some encouragement for a tricky assignment on Sunday, even though the five week break may have disrupted Connacht’s momentum.

Their pack produced a commanding display against the Scarlets, with John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, and Mike McComish superb in the back row, while the half-back pairing of Frank Murphy and Ian Keatley were in peak form.

That victory, following a superb European Challenge Cup victory in Montpellier, helped to lift some of the gloom around the Sportsground after Bradley’s boys collapsed against Ulster on September 18, a night in which they were expected to build on the tense home win over the Blues.

No doubt Cardiff are still reeling from that particular defeat, in which former All-Black Ben Blair almost broke the home side’s hearts only to miss a late penalty which would have given the Blues an undeserved win.

Connacht have not won in six visits to Cardiff and their appalling 58-0 defeat there last season should ensure that the travelling party are fully focused on the job in hand.

Absent from the squad this weekend are Keith Matthews, Jamie Hagan, Andrew Browne, and Troy Nathan, but Bradley is likely to keep faith with the pack who bullied Scarlets into submission (and overcame two sin-binnings) five weeks ago.

Cardiff have only won one of their last four Magners League matches, a 20-12 home success against the Ospreys on October 24, and their last outing was a 31-3 reversal to Australia in a ‘friendly’ last week – although seven of their players were away on international duty for that encounter.

The Blues also learned this week that former Welsh international Rhys Williams has been forced to retire due to a serious knee injury.

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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