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Galway go for glory



Date Published: 26-Sep-2012

John McIntyre

Replays tend to be strange beasts, often bearing little or no similarity to what’s gone before. Sometimes you’re even left wondering how the teams were inseparable in their initial collision after one of them wins with loads to spare when squaring up to each other the second time.


Anthony Cunningham had first hand and brutal experience of this exact scenario only last St Patrick’s Day, as Garrycastle – the club football team he managed – did Westmeath proud by holding the mighty Crossmaglen to a draw. The replay, however, proved a disaster as the battle-hardened Armagh men took Dessie Dolan and his team-mates apart. It was a sobering day for Cunningham and he wouldn’t be human if returning to Croke Park on Sunday anxious about a repeat occurring in the All-Ireland Hurling Final replay.

Did Galway, like Garrycastle, spurn a great opportunity in that absorbing stalemate encounter three weeks ago? Sure, Joe Canning displayed admirable nerve to nail the equalising free in injury time but when you lead the All-Ireland champions twice by seven points in the opening half, the greater logic suggests it was the Tribesmen who should be most aggrieved at not finishing the job the first day.

As one of few people who gave Galway a genuine chance of beating Kilkenny in the drawn match, it’s hard to justify the significant shift in public opinion in the interim about the outcome of the replay. Galway are now the popular choice to end a 24-year title famine, especially as initial injury concerns about Kevin Hynes and Iarla Tannian have abated.

The consensus is Kilkenny were out on their feet in early September, a tired team which had thrown everything at Galway after half-time, but still couldn’t wear down the gallant men from the West. Surely their energy levels are starting to run on empty by this stage, while their seasoned players must be sick of going back to the same well day after day, year after year, particularly as the greatest hurling team ever has nothing left to prove. Don’t believe a word of it.

Even Cork goalkeeper, Donal Óg Cusack, has fallen into the trap of thinking that Kilkenny are on their last legs. He recently described them as “tired old men looking for the exit door”. This theory is all a little too obvious and dangerous for my liking. No team has greater pride than Kilkenny, and they will relish the opportunity of proving the prophets of doom wrong.

For all that, the fact is that Galway are unquestionably the coming force in hurling. Young, hungry, highly skillful and tactically aware, they took some of Kilkenny’s best shots in the drawn cliffhanger and are still standing – even if Niall Burke’s breakaway goal camouflages the reality of Kilkenny’s dominance for much of the second-half.

Furthermore, they have scope for some improvement too. David Burke and Cyril Donnellan – understandably lacking match sharpness on September 9 – should certainly be a greater scoring threat on Sunday, while swashbuckling defender Niall Donoghue is unlikely to be so careless when in possession either. It is also reasonable to assume a more evenly-balanced 70 minutes contribution from Canning.

With 12 All-Ireland final novices taking to the field last Sunday fortnight, the overall experience of the occasion should prove beneficial to Galway too. The kicker is, however, that sometimes players have a carefree attitude when not exactly knowing what is ahead of them, but become more tense when they actually realise what hurling’s biggest day is all about.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune All-Ireland Hurling Supplement.

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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