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Galway champs caught napping



Date Published: 28-Jan-2010

THERE is a line in the blockbuster sci-fi movie, Avatar, in which a platoon of new recruits, on arriving in the midst of an on-going battle, is told: ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore!’ In the early moments of this hard-fought All-Ireland intermediate club hurling semi-final at Parnell Park, that line seemed frighteningly appropriate.

Most pundits – this one included – were predicting an easy victory for the Galway champions against their Antrim counterparts … the basis being that Galway intermediate hurling was surely a far superior, quicker game than that practised up North. It proved an ignorant view.

For at no stage did Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry look like winning this contest, even when they took the lead for the one and only time on 16 minutes. It was a rare productive spell for the Westerners, scoring three points in four minutes – Brian Cunningham (free), Ronan Madden and Declan Donnelly tallying to nudge Tynagh 0-4 to 0-3 ahead.

However, that was as it good as it got for the Galway side. In contrast, St. Gall’s had a definite vision and plan for success and by 13 seconds, they had their first score on the board through Conor McGourty, who was assigned a roving role by manager Darren McKeown.

It was a ploy Tynagh utterly failed to cope with, as ‘third midfielder’ McGourty popped up here, there and everywhere, while also leaving acres of space inside for their two-man full-forward line. Added to this, the ploy also congested the middle of the park, where St. Gall’s deployed that extra-man and, so, made it very difficult for Tynagh to open up the play.

Indeed, when the Galway men tried to play the flanks, hitting ball down the wings or into the space offered by the corners, they were subsequently beaten in the majority of footraces for possession by their markers, such was St. Gall’s pace and desire.

Consequently, by half-time, St. Gall’s led 0-9 to 0-5, having outscored Tynagh five points to one in the closing 10 minutes of the half. Sean McAreavey, Kevin McDonald, imposing midfielder Karl Stewart and McGourty (2) were all on target for the victors, while Cunningham hit the sole riposte for a rattled Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry side.

In fairness, St. Gall’s had done little wrong in the opening period, varying their play with short and long puck-outs and mixing a powerful running game with booming deliveries into the full-forward line. Right around the park, there were some outstanding individual displays, no more so than those submitted by midfielder Stewart, free spirit McGourty and the speedy Sean O’Hara.

Still, Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry’s supporters had every right to hope that their side could turn it around in the second half. And they just may have, were it not for some wasteful shooting, hitting six second half wides to add to their tally of five in the first period. In all, St. Gall’s recorded only six.

In any event, it was St.Gall’s, again, who began the second half as they had finished the first, with McGourty striking over two frees in the opening five minutes to put the Ulster champions into a 0-11 to 0-5 lead.

Although Tynagh did respond through Cunningham (two frees) and Anthony Burke, following good work from John Brehony, St. Gall’s continued to hold a healthy four-point lead entering the final quarter, after Stewart struck over his second point of the day from distance.

Surprisingly, that 41st minute Stewart point was to be St. Gall’s last score, as they hit all of their four second half wides in the final quarter. It left the door slightly ajar for Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry.

Unfortunately, the Connacht champions were unable to take advantage, despite Cunningham hitting an inspirational point under pressure on 45 minutes. Indeed, their only other point in the closing stages came from a Karl Kavanagh ’65, although chances were created, with five wides tallied in the final 10 minutes of play.

Simply, the Tynagh attack was found lacking, in creativity, penetration and pace – very ‘un-Galway’ like, really. Underlining the ineffectiveness of the Tynagh offensive was the fact that half of the forward unit was replaced, although, ironically, it was defender Noel Finnerty who was the first to be substituted at half-time. It seemed a superficial replacement given that the attack had only hit five points, two from play, in the opening 30 minutes.

Overall, though, St. Gall’s – who will face Corofin in the All-Ireland senior football semi-final in February – thoroughly deserved their victory. They had been sincere in their endeavours, playing as a team, hunting in packs, and smothering the life out of Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry.

As for the Galway intermediate champions, on the evidenceof this performance, they have some soul searching to do before the county senior hurling championship begins in April. Certainly, Tynagh have some fine young hurlers coming through up through the ranks, but one can’t expect the likes of All-Ireland winning teenager Shane Maloney to magically cure the ails of their offensive unit when he begins his adult hurling career in the Spring. It will take time.

Granted, these youngsters may bring creativity and pace, but for senior hurling a vital ingredient is also power – the ability to break and ride a tackle. This, for the most part, Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry was unable to do against St. Gall’s.

On the plus side, this defeat will give the management and players plenty of food for thought for their impending senior campaign in April. Heady days for the club. Again, a far cry from Kansas.


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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