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Connacht Juniors produce spectacular performance to make Inter-pro history



Date Published: {J}

Connacht 26

Munster 9

Rob Murphy

at the sportsground

Connacht rugby took another major step forward at the Sportsground on Saturday as the Junior Inter-provincial squad did the unthinkable by completing a Grand Slam in comprehensive style against Munster.

Having promised a breakthrough at this grade for the previous two years, the 2011 crop delivered in some style this season with a bonus point win over Ulster, a ground breaking victory against Leinster in Donnybrook and the most controlled of final day performances against the men from Munster.

Playing against the wind in the first half, Connacht trailed 9-5 with captain and Monivea stalwart Kevin Higgins finishing off a try made by Paddy Pearson, Rory O’Connor and Tuam’s inspirational open side Mike Ward.

That set the tone for a hugely impressive second half display which combined smart tactical rugby with an explosive high tempo attack. It yielded 21 points without reply to seal the title which has eluded the province throughout its long history, and at times seemed like an impossible goal.

An uncoverted try from Mata Fafita put Connacht 10-9 up before Paddy Pearson stretched their lead with a penalty. From there on, there was no holding the home team as a try from Aaron Spring, a conversion asd a penalty from Pearson, and a penalty from reserve Ger O’Connor put the seal on mould-breaking triumph.

It is important to stress, however, that this wasn’t a major surprise. Since the 2009 campaign where only a last minute Leinster try in Navan stood between Seamus King’s men and outright victory, Connacht have been a major force in this competition. Last season saw them slip up again and this year really did have an all or nothing feel to it from the outset.

The outcome will force many to sit up and take note of the continuing progress of rugby in the province. The 2007 inter-provincial winning youths’ squad broke new ground when they won a first title, they won two more after that and a tone was set. Now the progress at Junior Club level is taking shape.

Despite being vastly outnumbered in terms of playing numbers, clubs and, as a result, resources, Connacht are producing players of the quality to match their neighbours. That is indicative of a province where rugby appears to be growing at a faster pace than anywhere.


The sum of all the parts doesn’t add up just yet but the numbers are looking good and Seamus King sees plenty of reason to be optimistic.

“It comes down to pride, the fact that we live in the outmost point of Europe has elements of the frontiers to it, but I’m so proud of our squad. It was tremendously difficult picking the 22 never mind the 15, there is so much talent available now. It’s not just the quality of player, it’s in the heart and head. They’re proud to be from where they are which makes this so great.”

What makes this competition so fascinating is the amateur element. It is the only level beyond underage where provincial honors can be won by no professionals and therefore the essence of the competition hasn’t changed since its inception in the late 60s.

Connacht have never won it for some straight forward reasons – they just didn’t have the resources, playing numbers, coaching and game to take on and beat all three provinces.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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