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Cunningham keen to develop winning Galway brand



Date Published: {J}


NEW Galway senior team manager Anthony Cunningham believes the landscape of Galway hurling has to change if the county is to be successful at senior level and, to this end, he is advocating that the club championships be run in tandem with inter-county games.

Cunningham insists that the championship structure – as it stands – along with the prolonged Summer break in the local senior and intermediate competitions have impacted greatly on the respective performances of Galway’s most talented players at both club and inter-county level.

“I think the players are there, the hunger is there and players want to go on and continue to develop and win,” says the new Galway boss. “However, for the young players in particular, they have to show a bit more when they go out and play club senior and intermediate hurling.


“So, we will probably be looking for the club championships to be played in tandem with the inter-county set-up. The landscape has to change on the club scene and on the county scene and I think we need everybody rowing in the one direction.”

No doubt, the St. Thomas’ man’s views on the club championship will endear him to everyone associated with club hurling in the county, but he insists, again, things have to change. “I mean, it is now almost 25 years since the Liam McCarthy was won by Galway and there must be common threads that are not helping the cause. I think the club championship is one of them.

“There are a lot of days and weekends that they [the Board] can play these games and they are going to have to push on with that and we look forward to working with them on that. There is a lot of good work being done by the Review Group at the moment and we are looking forward to endorsing it and working with as much of that as we can.”

“What I also would be saying – and I go to a lot of the matches, and so do the lads [selectors Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny] – there are a lot of meaningless matches played in the championship. If you win a match now, you are almost guaranteed that you are in the preliminary quarter-finals. That is a very unhealthy situation because there are a lot of clubs going through the motions. I don’t think the players are getting the cut and thrust of championship hurling, which they should be.”

For now, though, Cunningham, Helebert and Kenny continue to apply themselves to the finer details, such as establishing their backroom team while they are, of course, also in the process of drawing up a panel for 2012, although it will be a number of weeks before it is announced.

While Cunningham notes that a core set of players will be retained from the 2011 squad, he says there will be changes, with a bigger emphasis now put “on the transformation of minor and U-21 players to senior.” He believes addressing that huge concern is central to building a successful team.

Allayed to this, he agrees it is now time for Galway to hurl to their strengths and not wholly focus on reacting or adopting the styles being nurtured by frontrunners Kilkenny and Tipperary. “We will be pushing hard to impose our own coaching style on the set-up and we will have a Galway style of play,” stresses the former All-Ireland senior medal winner.

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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