Date Published: 02-May-2013
CONNACHT conclude their RaboDirect Pro12 season this Friday night at the Sportsground (7:45) against play-off bound Glasgow Warriors who are seeking a win to keep their home semi final hopes very much alive.
The curtain will come down on Eric Elwood’s three year tenure at the helm of Connacht rugby and a 24 year unbroken involvement with provincial rugby in the west of Ireland. It is sure to be an emotional and highly charged night.
For Elwood, the season will feel like progress in the big picture but Saturday’s result will be important as Connacht can reach nine wins in Celtic League or Pro12 rugby for the first time and have a shot at equalling their highest finish of eighth in the table.
Last weekend’s draw in Treviso was borne out of a performance full of the character and endeavour that has become synonymous with the team’s displays since he took charge. This year, on their travels it has paid off with three Pro12 wins and a draw from their eight trips outside of Ireland. Again, a record.
In between all that was their strong Heineken Cup performances, as for a second season in a row, Connacht stood up to the monumental challenge and performed well. The heavy and dispiriting loss in Harlequins was the one exception to that but over 12 games and two seasons, the men from the west have been competitive and tenacious against all manner of opponents.
Three wins this season, including a memorable night at the Sportsground in December when Serge Blanco’s Biarritz were put to the sword, represents a solid return. The defeat on the atlantic coast in Basque country the following week, however, will be a result that rankles for Elwood and co, 17-0 but played in horrendous conditions that made a lottery of the contest.
Problems remain. Connacht are not competitive against Irish provinces overall, bar the odd sparky home performance – this year’s thundering win over Leinster falls into that category – and that just won’t get it done in the long run. Three away defeats within Ireland without evening mustering a point on the scoreboard underlined this problem during the campaign.
It was always going to take time and this is a young side in it for the long haul. Denis Buckley, Mick Kearney, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmion, Eoin Griffin, Robbie Henshaw are all at the very start of their careers and have established themselves as Pro12 regulars already. They are part of the future.
Nathan White has been a great addition to the pack, but more front row resources are needed. Ronan Loughney, Andrew Brown, John Muldoon, Michael Swift and Gavin Duffy are the core pieces. Kiwi Super Rugby star Craig Clarke will hopefully provide a strong alternative to the departing Mike McCarthy.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE
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.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013