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Connacht unveil new signing for Worcester test



Date Published: {J}

Connacht Coach Michael Bradley, whose replacement will be unveiled during the Six Nations tournament this coming spring, will start new signing George Naoupa for Saturday’s crucial European Challenge Cup match against Guinness Premiership side Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday (3pm).

New Zealander Naoupa will make his debut for Connacht at number eight, in the first of two back-to-back matches against the Warriors that will ultimately define Connacht’s season.

With Connacht languishing at the bottom of the Magners League table again this year – despite an encouraging away performance against the Cardiff Blues last weekend – Bradley is looking to the Challenge Cup to salvage some success and to leave on a ‘high note’ in this his last season in charge.

Securing five points – a win plus a bonus point – etween Saturday’s match and the return leg at the Sportsground next Friday will place Connacht in pole position to remain on top of Pool 2 and favourites to advance to the quarter-final stages, with just two home matches against Montpellier and Olympus Madrid, who they have already beaten away, to come in the New Year.

The six-day turnaround will be bruising and Bradley will be hoping to avoid adding to an injury list that already includes Keith Matthews and Andrew Browne, and particularly so given that Connacht face derbies against Munster and Leinster in the Magners League over the Christmas period.

The good news is Troy Nathan and Jamie O’Hagan have recovered from injury and will be named on the bench on Saturday alongside Johnny O’Connor who returned from injury and started against Cardiff last week.

Giving Naoupa a start ahead of Mike McComish, who will drop to the bench, is expected to be the only surprise when the Connacht starting line-up is officially announced later today (Friday).

John Muldoon will again captain the side in what is the 1,000th European Challenge Cup match ever to take place and starts in the back row, with Ray Ofisa, who came on as substitute for Mike McComish last week, getting the nod ahead of O’Connor.

The front row of Brett Wilkinson, Robbie Morris and Seán Cronin will remain unchanged as will the half backs pairing of scrum half, Frank Murphy and out half, Ian Keatley. Gavin Duffy will start at full-back, with Fionn Carr and Liam Bibo on the wings and Niva Ta’auso – Naoupa’s former New Zealand Highland’s teammate – and Aidan Wynne in the centre.

Warriors Director of Rugby, Mike Ruddock this week declared that Connacht “were the side to beat” if they are to have any hope of qualification.

Ruddock signalled he is keeping one eye on the Premiership crunch tie with Northampton on St Stephen’s Day, and so will probably be rotating his squad for the return leg against Connacht at the Sportsground on Friday.

“We will certainly know each other inside out after these two games, but we have also got a very tough Guinness Premiership fixture just around the corner against Northampton. We will see what happens on Saturday, but there is a chance I will rotate my squad when we go out to Connacht and freshen a few guys up for the Northampton game,” said Ruddock.

But, given that the Warrio

rs are languishing third from bottom of the Premiership and have no hope of automatic qualification to the Heineken Cup, they will, like all English sides, be targeting the Challenge Cup as a means to progressing to the ‘holy grail’ of the Heineken Cup and Connacht will have to be at their best in the two matches to secure the necessary five points.

For more read page 49 of 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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