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Galway camogie manager with Midas touch

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Date Published: {J}

ANYONE who has been following Galway senior camogie in the last number of years will tell you if that there has been one fundamental element the Tribeswomen have been sadly lacking, it has been that little bit of luck.

Well, that is something they hope to rectify this year with the appointment of Noel Finn, a man who has led Galway to three All-Ireland titles between junior and intermediate on the three previous occasions he was involved in the county camogie set-up.

It may be unfair to put Finn’s significant All-Ireland title haul simply down to luck – there are few who work harder for the cause – but, certainly, he is the first to acknowledge that there are times when you have to unashamedly flirt with the fair Lady.

“I suppose I have (been a lucky manager), but you make your own luck too,” insists Finn. “It is great winning the three All-Irelands the three years that I was there, but having said that you can’t do it without the players.

“As I always said, there are loads and loads of great camogie players in Galway and it is no different this year. But, yes, I suppose you do need a bit of luck as well. If you don’t have a bit of luck, well …” Finn’s voice trails off. It can be a fine line.

His assessment, though, that you make your own luck is just as pertinent. In guiding the Galway juniors to National League, Connacht and All-Ireland success in 2003, Finn left little to chance. It was the same in 2004, when he coaxed the same team to annex the All-Ireland intermediate outfit to their tidy collection of silverware.

Although Finn, having also took charge of the seniors in 2004, was unable to deliver with that team in the top tier – they were defeated by Cork in the semi-final – he did return to the intermediate set-up in the Summer of 2009 to, once again, inspire them to yet another All-Ireland crown.

Yet, what prompted him to return to the fold after an absence of five years? “It was kind of funny. When the U-16s won (the All-Ireland) last year, I met Ann Kearney (Camogie Board Secretary) and she asked me would I be interested in going back.

“This was May – the intermediate manager (Gerry Flannery) had stood down – and we were out in June, so we had exactly 28 days before we played our first championship match against Clare. So, we had to get the players together,” recalls the affable bookmaker.

After assembling a management team of trainer Basil Larkin and selectors Helena Huban of Kinvara, U-16 manager Johnny Kane and Killimordaly’s Kevin Kelly, Finn and company began to construct a squad of substance and in the group stages his charges accounted for Clare, a strong Wexford side, and a fancied Derry outfit, before taking Tipperary apart in the semi-final. This set up an All-Ireland final meeting with championship favourites Cork.

While it took Galway time to settle to the task in hand in the decider, they did hold a three-point lead as the contest entered injury-time. However, Cork – as Cork do – then hit the Westerners for a goal to earn a 2-9 to 0-15 draw, and force a replay.

For more, read page 53 of this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

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.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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