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Galway prove class apart



Date Published: {J}

Galway 1-21

Dublin 1-12


ONCE again, the Galway minor hurlers gave a master class. Once again, Mattie Murphy’s boys delivered. Order restored; Galway are the 2011 All-Ireland minor hurling champions. Let the doubters – those who whispered their misgivings and reservations prior to this decider – come forth and repent.

To say, Galway won this title at their ease would not be an understatement. After negotiating a potentially tricky opening quarter, the young Tribesmen took charge of this fixture in much the same manner as a confident conductor commands a vast orchestra. Galway were animate, they were succinct, they were simply inspiring. And Dublin danced, entranced, to their tune.

If Kilkenny are the aristocrats of the senior grade, then Galway – in no small thanks to the contribution of manager Murphy – have now set the benchmark for success at this level. Since they finally made the breakthrough in 1983, they have now won nine titles – six under the Turloughmore native – and have claimed eight of those in the last 19 years. It’s a remarkable strike rate.

And yet, there were doubters out there in the run-in to this decider. Yes, Dublin had amassed a whooping 6-19 in their victory over Waterford in their All-Ireland semi-final, but you don’t measure heady heights using a strain gauge weighing scales. And, as it transpired, too much weight had been put into that Dublin display.

In contrast, Galway had an ideal run-in to this final. Their facile win over Antrim in the quarter-final stages gave little or no indication as to the strength of this side, while the hard-fought, extra-time win over Clare – overlooked by some pundits – was subsequently overshadowed by the Dubs’ display in their penultimate game a week later.

The raw material, though, was there and the two biggest challenges for Galway’s management team were, first, to ensure their side was sharp in their hurling and focused of mind for this one and, secondly, to select the best possible starting XV to take the game to Dublin from the outset. Job done on both counts.

While Murphy will receive the majority of the plaudits – and rightly so – for his leading role in yet another All-Ireland victory, huge credit also to team trainer Michael Haverty for having the squad of players up to speed. Quite simply, Galway’s first touch was just immaculate while their movement was, at times, a joy to behold.

In addition, Galway’s ability to compete physically with their extremely athletic opponents was also to prove a fundamental cornerstone for the victory. Dublin’s height and bulk had caused all sorts of problems for the likes of Kilkenny and Waterford in previous games, but once Galway fronted up to them in the initial stages, the Leinster champions had no answer to the graft and wile of their opponents. The Dubs had no Plan ‘B’.

And so, by half-time, Galway led 0-10 to 0-4, having repelled Dublin’s early onslaught. In this time, centre-half forward Ciaran Kilkenny was causing the maroon and white rearguard some problems, but once Loughrea’s Sean Sweeney got a hold of him in the second quarter, the potency just seemed to fade out of the Dubs’ attack.

To some degree, it was the capacity of the Galway defence to deal with Dublin’s big guns that, ultimately, lay the foundation for the win. Coming into this game, the likes of Cormac Costello, Paul Winters and Ciaran Kilkenny had tallied 5-7, 1-14 and 2-10 respectively, but on Sunday they could only manage three points from play between them over the hour.

To the fore for Galway in quashing this threat were full-back Paul Killeen, Pádraic Mannion and Sweeney, with Ahascragh/Fohenagh’s Mannion, in particular, putting in a huge performance to smother the life out of the Liffeysiders top scorer Costello, who could only manage one point on the day.

As a result of the team’s defensive endeavours, the Tribesmen – led by the midfield powerhouse of Pádraig Breheny – really opened up on Dublin in the second quarter, out-shooting their opponents by seven points to one.

Captain Shane Moloney – finishing with a total of 1-9, 1-3 from play – registered four points in this crucial period, while the lively Jason Flynn (2) and midfielder Dean Higgins also chipped in with scores in this time.

For their part, Dublin, despite the constant rotating of forwards, could not just catch a break and, in some respects, they may feel referee Johnny Ryan did them no favours. Unfortunately, this was neither here nor there because Dublin were nowhere near the pitch of the game and any intensity being injected into the contest was being administered by a far sleeker Galway outfit.

In fairness, Dublin did try to shake things up in the second period, which included introducing Donal Gormley, and they looked to be off to a solid start when full forward Aodhán Clabby, who operated out at left wing forward for large periods, struck over a fine score.

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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