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Connacht underline progress – even in narrow league loss



Date Published: {J}

Ospreys 26

Connacht 21

Rob Murphy at Liberty stadium

IF you’re a member of the Connacht professional rugby set up – be it in the guise of player or team management – best look away now.

You’re not going to enjoy this report. The Westerners lost their second away game of the season at the Liberty stadium, but rescued a well warranted losing bonus point with the last kick of the game.

So why have we got those involved to look away? Well, we’re going to be ultra positive and judging by the post game faces around the visiting dressing room at a balmy Liberty Stadium, all were very much focused on what went wrong. For them, this was a game of wasted opportunities and very much a case of three points lost.

For us, this was a hugely encouraging display of attacking rugby where chances were created and admittedly not enough were taken but that’s all part of the development process. Last season’s Connacht squad would hardly have had been cut such slack but this is a side on a learning curve.

Fair enough, the pack are largely a group of grizzled experienced players overall with the exception of Dylan Rogers and TJ Anderson, but the back line is raw, especially as a collective unit. Niall O’Connor might be 24 but this is a new setting and he’s only now starting to settle. Eoin Griffin and Tiernan O’Halloran may well be sparkling but they are learning too.

There were just seven players starting on Friday night, in the evening warmth of a Welsh indian summer, that lined out in the previous fixture between these sides back in February. Elwood is assembling a new look outfit with long term goals and using this World Cup period to get them from the filter lane into the high speed traffic.

After five weeks of action, it is patently obvious that the standard of the current Rabo Direct Pro 12 is dramatically off kilter with the norm. Speed restriction are in place to continue our motorway metaphor. Even during the Six Nations and Autumn internationals the drop off in quality is not nearly as dramatic. The sheer number of top players missing is having its impact.

The Ospreys top the pile after this victory with five from five. They are without question the strongest squad in the competition at the moment and that’s with ten players down in New Zealand. Connacht have been the least affected with just the one player – Fetu’s Vainikolo – on World Cup duty and their current position of fourth place reflects as much.

A pessimist would suggest that come round seven on the last weekend in October, Eric Elwood’s men will be overawed and overran. It’s true to say that wastefulness, like we saw in the second half here and slow starts like we’ve seen in all five games, will be ruthlessly punished.

That’s possible, yet if, and it’s a big if, Connacht can round off the opening period of games with a victory over Leinster this weekend, they’ll have a foothold and confidence to push on. Rodney Ah You and Dylan Rogers are now putting in some impressive displays at tighthead which suggests all might not be so bad in that department.


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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