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Connacht on a hiding to nothing away to Toulouse



Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

God loves a trier, but even his patience with Connacht Rugby must be wearing thin at this stage.

A characteristic of head coach Eric Elwood’s squad this season, despite their limitations, has been that the players kept trying, kept battling away for the jersey. It was a pride thing; pride and professionalism.

Not anymore. Well, certainly not if you are judging by the feeble display against Aironi last weekend in Italy. They didn’t seem to try at all and just caved in to the inevitable once the home side went 14 points up shortly after the restart.


Forget the lengthy injury list, the loss of key players at the start of the season – time for national commentators to build a bridge. Get over it, lads. It’s half way through the season, those guys are gone – forget that they were away from home, that they are perhaps tired, maybe even emotionally shattered from the agonising defeat to Leinster the previous week.

There can be no excuse for the manner in which the professional sportsmen of Connacht rolled over and allowed the whipping boys of northern hemisphere club rugby tickle their bellies. Nothing can excuse the lack of spirit or the litany of errors made last Saturday as they slumped to a 13th successive defeat; errors that would mortify schoolboys in training, never mind well-paid men who play the game for a living.

Take the reaction when league’s basement outfit scored their try. Teams are supposedly vulnerable after scoring; yet rather than test the theory, the restart was overcooked, handing the advantage back to the Italians. It epitomised the lackadaisical error-ridden approach that was apparent for a large chunk of the 80 minutes.

Rather than the raging bulls that had been stung with an electric prod in the nether regions the last dozen times they took to the field – and in particular that painful Leinster jab last week – Connacht’s reaction to what was flagged as their best opportunity to stop the rot was pedestrian at best. They were just going through the motions. Scrap that; it’s an insult to ‘the motions’.

Connacht did okay in the last 20 minutes when chasing the game and a losing bonus point, which they failed to obtain, but playing okay for a quarter of the 80 is not good enough. Would a professional chef be happy burning three out of every four meals? They played like a team who collectively thought the points were in the bag, easy, and all they had to do was tog out. Ha, fat chance.

The Aironi clash was without a doubt Connacht’s worst performance all year, and it comes just seven days before possibly their toughest challenge of the year, a Heineken Cup away clash with Toulouse, the kings of European rugby.

We won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting a vast improvement from Connacht is needed this weekend. In fairness, the squad recognised how bad they were.

Stalwart Mike McCarthy was quoted during the week as saying the team “are embarrassed by our performance against Aironi”; and backs coach Billy Millard was quoted as saying the performance was “totally unacceptable, right across the board . . . if you lose games in that fashion, you either don’t care or you’re careless and I think tonight was a bit of both”.

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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