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Final heartbreak for Athenry again



Date Published: 10-Dec-2009

ATHENRY’S fervent hopes of a second ever All Ireland Senior club camogie title lay in tatters on the Clarecastle turf after an enthralling final played in atrocious weather conditions on Sunday.

This far and no further shall you go was the stark message from the powerful Cashel side who celebrated a second All Ireland club title in three years – both victories coming at the expense of Athenry.

The four-in-a-row Galway champions must surely be scratching their heads as to what they must do to land the Bill Carroll Cup, a title that has continued to elude them since the club’s one and only All Ireland triumph in 1977. In truth, the only emotion to describe the feeling of the Athenry players, supporters and management following the final whistle was sheer and utter heartbreak.

Unlike 2007, the Athenry women gave every ounce of energy to the cause but, despairingly, just fell short of the winning post, pipped only by a side that must rank up there with the great club teams of Pearses and Granagh-Ballinagarry.

Having survived an epic semi-final against Oulart the Ballagh, the Tipperary champions were in no mood to let the ultimate prize slip from their grasp. A goal to the good inside the final ten minutes, the winners failed to add to their tally, but held on against a late surge spearheaded by Jessica Gill.

Indeed Gill deserves tremendous plaudits for her contribution. Sidelined since early September with cruciate ligament damage, the former All Star single-handedly wiped out the impact of Cashel full back and captain Una Dwyer, who had controlled proceedings inside the forty for well over three quarters of the tie.

It poses the question what if Gill had been fit? But injuries played key roles on both sides and it must be mentioned that

Cashel were without Sinead Millea, as capable a forward as any that stared on Sunday.

The passion and intensity of the exchanges never flagged throughout and though no quarter was neither asked nor given, exemplary sportsmanship prevailed from the first whistle to the last. It was as hard and as competitive a game of camogie played all season.

And while the opening half proved tight and tense, it was to be second fiddle to what came at the turnover. At the end of the first quarter, Athenry found themselves one point to the good, Mairead Morrissey and Laura Linnane traded points before Brenda Kerins and Therese Maher found the target for Athenry. Cashel’s response coming from the stick of Claire Grogan.

Crucially, Athenry gambled in redeploying Regina Glynn from centre to wing back in a bid to curtail the exploits of the towering Claire Grogan. But it became quickly apparent that the All Star corner back was in for a busy afternoon.

In the ensuing passages of play, Therese Maher broke onto a clearance out of defence, galloped through the centre and struck for the top corner, but was denied by a superb save from ‘keeper Helen Breen.

This was just one of a limited number of goal chances presented to both sides, with Laura Linnane and Emily Hayden spurning opportunities. Brenda Kerins and Claire Grogan registered scores before Laura Linnane (45’) and an inspirational effort from Noreen Coen sent Midge Glynn’s charges three points clear.

Critically, though, Athenry failed to build on their advantage, shooting six wides in that first half. Meanwhile, Cashel were making the most of every chance that fell their way, Claire Grogan and Alison Lonergan snipped a pair of points to reduce the deficit to a solitary point at the break.

Little things were going against Athenry – Maher’s missed goal chance and Linanne’s inability to spot Natalie Jordan on the edge of the square when a goal looked imminent.

Cashel, backed by the breeze, came out all guns blazing and by the end of third quarter led by 0-9 to 0-7. Emily Hayden, Mairead Morrissey and Claire Grogan (two) struck points. Clearly rattled, the best Athenry could conjure up was a free from Laura Linnane. Yet, hope sprang eternal and the introduction of Jessica Gill (heavily strapped) brought the largest cheer of the day on 46 minutes.

Gill proved to be the perfect target women, rising high to field superbly within two minutes of her introduction, only to see her ensuing effort dropped by Helen Breen and eventually cleared.

Claire Grogan re-established her side’s three point lead, though Katie O’Dwyer did narrow the gap back to two momentarily before Grogan looked to have sealed the win, converting a free on 52 minutes.

Athenry staring down the barrel of a third straight defeat to Cashel pulled momentum from the grey skies that loomed above to launch a grandstand finish. Brenda Keirns, Sarah Donoghue and Katie O’Dwyer were all causing problems for Cashel and suddenly a defence that had looked so secure for so long began to buckle.

Gaps appeared all over the place and panic bells sounded every time the ball crossed halfway. Athenry had one last chance to rescue the situation, but Gill’s 21’ yard free just rose above the crossbar for a point.

It was to be their final chance and, in truth they were extremely fortunate not to concede an injury time gaol as Stephanie Gannon pulled of a fine save from Emily Hayden.

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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