Date Published: 06-Jun-2012
ACCORDING to the bookmakers, the outcome of Saturday evening’s Connacht semi-final clash at Pearse Stadium (6.0) between Galway and Sligo is nothing but a foregone conclusion, but even a cursory glance at the recent championship meetings between the sides, puts a completely different complexion on the encounter.
True, Galway’s Division 2 league form and their first round demolition of Roscommon in Hyde Park is entitled to make them favourites for this tie, but odds of 1/6 on the home side, hardly stack up, given the recent championship records of the two counties.
Galway were fresh and lively against Roscommon at Hyde Park but even the most ardent fan of the maroon would have to admit that Des Newton’s side put up a very poor resistance. The outcome of the game had long been decided before half-time and what followed after that just doesn’t stack up as plausible evidence.
Sligo’s only championship test this year was against New York in the Big Apple and while they cruised to a 3-21 to 0-6 success – by all accounts looking quite slick in the process – the quality of the opposition has to be seriously factored into the equation.
Of more relevance to both sides will be the meeting of the counties in the 2010 championship when Galway, under the stewardship of Joe Kernan, had to rely on a last gasp Gareth Bradshaw free to secure a draw in Pearse Stadium before falling to Sligo in the replay at Markievicz Park.
Throw Kevin Walsh into the mix, who knows all the nuts and bolts of Galway football as intimately as Alan Mulholland, and the gap between the counties is certainly nothing like the chasm being portrayed by the bookmakers.
Galway though have been playing league football at a higher level in Division 2, and despite a couple of blips along the way, were desperately unlucky not to gain promotion to Division One while Sligo struggled at times against moderate enough opposition in Division 3.
End of league form though in March and April tends to provide the best guide to championship form and Sligo finished off their campaign quite strongly, with three wins on the trot over Tipperary (1-16, 0-7), Offaly (1-14, 1-12) and Roscommon (1-12, 0-12).
Sligo named their team early in the week with one of the big calls made at full back where Johnny Martyn is preferred to Noel McGuire, probably on the basis that physically he might be better able to handle the threat of Galway dangerman, Paul Conroy.
Eamon O’Hara, Tony Taylor and livewire forward David Kelly have missed out on Kevin Walsh’s first fifteen due to injury and fitness concerns, but Kelly – after a very troublesome few months with injuries – is reported to be very close to full fitness and could be making an early enough entry to the fray. He’s a man that has caused Galway a lot of problem in recent years.
O’Hara, bothered by a knee problem, is also very close to full fitness and will be a ready sideline option for Kevin Walsh who has gone for an experimental enough midfield pairing in young Shane McManus and Eugene Mullen.
Sligo do have quite a lively set of forwards with Stephen Coen, Adrian Marren, Mark Breheny and Pat Hughes all playing with a lot of confidence – as a unit they are fast moving and will relish the open spaces of Pearse Stadium.
For more, read this week’s Connacht 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