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Disjointed hurlers all over the shop in Semple Stadium



Date Published: 24-Apr-2013

 IT was around this time last year that the Galway hurlers’ season took off in the league relegation play-off replay thumping of Dublin, but supporters travelling to Thurles last Sunday hoping that they would similarly ignite in the 2013 semi-final of the competition against Kilkenny were left bitterly disappointed after a poor and disorganised effort.

By the end of the match, Galway were, quite frankly, shapeless and many of the players appeared confused about their exact roles after a myriad of personal and positional switches – highlighted by the two starting midfielders, Joseph Cooney and Iarla Tannian, finishing in the half back line – clearly impacted on the fluency of the team and caused some understandable disruption in their ranks.

In mitigation, Galway had lost team captain Fergal Moore just ten minutes into the semi-final when he had to be stretchered off following a thunderous collision with Walter Walsh and, undoubtedly, the long hold up didn’t do his colleagues any favours. The departure of the Turloughmore player led to the introduction of Andy Smith at wing back, but before the restructured rearguard had even time to settle, the management bafflingly called Niall Donohue ashore, with young Paul Killeen coming into the last line of defence.

Donohue had admittedly fluffed one clearance and Galway did appear to be under some pressure down their left flank, but to make a change so quickly (about seven minutes) after Moore’s departure appeared a panic move and was hardly justified. Furthermore, Smith was only left stationed on the wing for a few minutes which begs the question why Tony Og Regan, a recognised half-back, wasn’t the first port of call for the mentors?

To be honest, there was also a strong case for having a look at Shane Kavanagh, who rejoined the panel in the Spring but has had no involvement in the league. Kevin Hynes was under serious pressure at full back last Sunday and, yet, despite all the tinkering the management did in Thurles, the one change which was obvious didn’t happen. In fairness to the combative Sarsfields player, the quality of ball put in front of Richie Hogan in the second-half was exceptional.

That immediately, of course, confirms suspicions that the Kilkenny outfield players were not being put under the kind of pressure you’d expect at this level. Between them, midfielders Michael Rice and Lester Ryan, landed five points from play and, occasionally, the Kilkenny men had so much room and time on the ball, you’d wonder were Galway short-staffed. Certainly, the team’s overall work-rate was a long way behind last Summer and the extent of Kilkenny’s dominance was reflected by people departing Semple Stadium less than ten minutes into the second-half.

The ‘where to play’ Joe Canning conundrum has also to be grasped. Having floated around on the wing, he was only moved to full forward when the game was over. Canning did thread some wonderfully precise passes to his inside men, but his failure to register a single score from play tells its own story. He must be restored to the edge of the square for the championship. In that attack, both Damien Hayes and Conor Cooney were taken off, while David Burke finished up at midfield, still arguably his most effective position.

No matter how you attempt to dress it up, this was a bad day at the office for Galway and the result won’t have done their confidence levels any good ahead of the Leinster championship. In retrospect, the convincing loss to Kilkenny shouldn’t really come as a surprise as the team hadn’t really sparked in the group campaign and could just as easily have ended up in relegation trouble as making the league semi-finals.

Few Galway players escaped the Thurles wreckage, but Colm Callanan, who made two brilliant reflex saves from Richie Power; Aidan Harte and Cyril Donnellan were notable exceptions. All three made major contributions, with Cooney very impressive in the opening 25 minutes and Moore typically hurtling into everything before paying the price for his own bravery. Now the management’s big job is to get the rest of the squad up to their level.

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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