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Footballers show grit in sinking flattering Dubs



Date Published: {J}

JOE Kernan could have been forgiven for thinking what had he gotten himself into when Galway footballers trailed Dublin by 0-5 to 0-1 midway through the opening-half of last Saturday evening’s National League clash at Parnell Park. In isolation, that state of affairs was no crisis, but having already lost to Cork, Mayo and Kerry, his squad was really dicing with relegation.

Injuries, of course, had taken their toll on Galway’s performances to date and though the Joe Bergin inspired Tribesmen had stopped the rot with a battling win over Tyrone on their return to Tuam Stadium the previous weekend, it appeared that had come as a once-off display as Dublin threatened to take their visitors apart in the opening quarter of Saturday night’s fixture.

It could have been way worse for Kernan and his management team than just being four points behind after 18 minutes. Kevin Bonner spoiled a clear-cut goal scoring opportunity with a foul handpass, while emergency Galway custodian, Eoin O Conghaile, proved his worth by denying Kevin McMenamon from point-blank range.

Dublin’s strong-running had the men in maroon chasing shadows and such was their early dominance, it was difficult to see a way back for Galway, who were forced to withdraw corner back Damien Burke after only 17 minutes.

Unexpectedly, however, the match was to undergo an incredible transformation in the second quarter. Dublin began to lose their shape and failed to muster another score for the rest of the half as Galway gradually found their feet with the fit-again Gareth Bradshaw helping to ignite their revival as Kernan’s men began to play with greater intensity and aggression. Paul Conroy coming into midfield also boosted Galway as the team management didn’t hang about in making changes. Ultimately, the critical score of the match arrived when Fiachra Breathnach managed to bundle the ball over the line despite being surrounded by a posse of defenders.

With young Eoin Concannon landing a couple of invaluable frees, Galway turned the match around to such an extent that they went in leading by 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.They went further in front before Dublin managed to get their second wind. The free-scoring Bernard Brogan was the man who dragged the home team back into the match and when Conal Keaney equalised from a free with 14 minutes left, you’d nearly put your house on Pat Gilroy’s charges closing the deal.

Galway had gone 20 minutes without a score and their plight got worse when Declan Meehan was dismissed (harshly) for a second yellow card ten minutes from the end. But they responded to this adversity in the manner of men who had suddenly rediscovered their fighting spirit. Concannon, who belied his inexperience at this level with a fine display of accurate shooting, kept finding the range and with the versatile Gary Sice popping over his second score of the match, Galway finished the game much stronger to claim a magnificent victory.

Obviously, their triumph over Tyrone the previous weekend was a turning point in Galway’s campaign, but their achievement in Parnell Park at the weekend was far more significant, especially given how much they struggled early on. There is no shortage of pride in their ranks and with Concannon adding a fresh scoring impetus up front, Kernan, Sean O Domhnaill and Tom Naughton must now be looking forward to the Connacht championship with a relish that they couldn’t have imagined even a fortnight ago.

Their relegation fears now over, Galway will be keen to keep the momentum going in their final league outing against struggling Derry on Sunday week. With Michael Meehan and Sean Armstrong likely to be recovered well in time for the Connacht championship, suddenly there is a new air of optimism out there. Admittedly, Mayo won’t be easily dislodged from their lofty perch in the province, but Galway look to be building up a head of steam at just the right time.

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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