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GalwayÕs best in years



Date Published: 11-Jul-2012

Galway 2-21

Kilkenny 2-11


AS sublime a first half performance as any Galway team has ever produced at Croke Park laid the foundations for the shock of the hurling summer as the boys of 2012 really came of age with a sensational and comprehensive victory over Kilkenny to claim an historic first Leinster senior title on Sunday.

Few, even within their own county, gave Anthony Cunningham’s charges a prayer against a side going for their 14th provincial title in 15 years – and few could have dreamed up the blistering performance which saw the Tribesmen lead by 2-12 to 0-4 at the break.

The sheer intensity of the Galway challenge took the breath away. Nobody saw this one coming. The defence which shipped seven goals to Westmeath and Offaly in the two previous rounds outhurled and outfought Kilkenny with the kind of venom which has become a trademark of the All-Ireland champions themselves over the past decade.

It was a tactical masterclass from Anthony Cunningham and his backroom team, who hardly could have dreamed up the kind of savage intensity their young charges conjured up against the greatest side in the history of the game.

From the outset, it was clear that the men in maroon were up for this one. The passionate defending began with the attackers, as the mobility of Portumna duo Joe Canning and Damien Hayes caused all sorts of havoc for the reigning champions.

Hayes spent most of the game rampaging around the middle third of the field; Canning also covered back at times and, with a 1-10 tally, produced the kind of performance he has always threatened to deliver for the county at senior level.

Back in defence, the performances of David Collins, Niall Donoghue, Tony Og Regan (bar a couple of costly second half lapses) and Johnny Coen were simply immense. They rarely gave a Kilkenny man a second on the ball as they swarmed around the champions with the kind of passion and self-belief which is supposedly alien to Galway senior sides.

Coen, in particular, delighted in the freedom Kilkenny gave him in the left corner of the victors’ defence and mopped up ball after ball whenever the Cats managed to reach the danger zone, rare occurrences at times given how well the likes of Andy Smith, Cyril Donnellan, David Burke, Hayes and Canning battled further up the field.

Kilkenny were simply shell-shocked after the 6/1 outsiders enjoyed a perfect start, tearing into them from the throw-in with centre forward Niall Burke delivering two early points from play either side of a superbly taken opening goal from Canning, set up by midfielder Iarla Tannian just four minutes in.

It was just the start Galway wanted, and we braced ourselves for the Kilkenny fightback, but nobody could have envisaged the kind of pressure which the challengers exerted on Kilkenny men in possession all over the field – epitomised by the tireless work-rate of Canning and Hayes.

With less than ten minutes gone, and still no sign of a Kilkenny score, Canning underlined the strength and spirit of the Galway challenge when he tracked back to dispossess Kilkenny corner forward Richie Hogan deep in his own half.

Canning added to Galway’s tally after being fouled by Jackie Tyrrell before Smith ran at the Kilkenny defence and won another free, which was calmly slotted between the posts by his Portumna colleague.

Fifteen minutes gone, the rank outsiders leading 1-4 to no score, and not even a sniff of a Kilkenny attack . . . no wonder the small Galway contingent in the 22,171 crowd were in dreamland, and thousands more must have been wondering why they stayed at home.

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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