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Group draw gives Portumna food for thought



Date Published: {J}

REIGNING All-Ireland Club champions Portumna have been drawn in a group in what some have termed as the proverbial ‘Group of Death’ for the upcoming Galway senior hurling championship.

Along with Portumna, Group D also comprises of old foes Clarinbridge, 2007 county finalists Kinvara and giant-killers Beagh, in addition to a plucky Killimordaly outfit, who will have it all to do if they are to avoid a relegation battle this coming year.

Speaking on the draw, Portumna manager Johnny Kelly admitted it was “a tough” one for his charges. “We will have to be at our best (for those group games). Kinvara, Beagh, Clarinbridge and Killimordaly, they are good teams all round. So, yeah, we can take nothing for granted.”

In recent years, Portumna – who face Dunloy in the All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park on Sunday, February 14 – have tended to wind down after their early spring endeavours. However, Kelly acknowledged they may have to revise their strategy this coming year.

“We probably will, and that is no disrespect to the teams we met in the group stages in previous years. At the moment, all our focus is on February 14 and Dunloy. I suppose, though, it will be at the back of the mind. They are all quality teams. Just thinking about it this morning (Wednesday), I reckon we will have to go back a bit earlier alright.”

Certainly, there is a nice mix to each of the groups and with only three of the five teams advancing to the knockout stages this year, it should ensure the group games are more competitive.

Indeed, another group of note is that comprising three former All-Ireland Club winners – namely Sarsfields, Athenry and Kiltormer – while 2006 county champions Loughrea and perennial underachievers Craughwell will also be pushing hard to top Group A.

In Group B, there should be plenty of bite to championship action there, with St. Thomas’, Tommie Larkins and 2008 county finalists Gort – favoured to advance to the knockout stages. However, an ever-improving Turloughmore side is more than capable of grabbing one of the three places there.

The other team in this group is last year’s county intermediate champions, Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry. Although Tynagh were dumped out of the All-Ireland series by St. Gall’s of Antrim at Parnell Park recently, they did bounce back when recording a hugely impressive 7-15 to 1-4 victory over Rahoon/Newcastle in the 2009 County Intermediate League semi-final the following week.

The true worth of the side, though, is probably somewhere in between those two results, but they will still need to improve if they are to avoid a bottom table finish.

There is also a nice balance to Group C, where city side Liam Mellows and Castlegar will do battle with each other … and Carnmore, Ardrahan and an aggrieved Mullagh, who were left reeling last week after Croke Park reinstated the 48-week suspensions handed down to Galway senior panellist Conor Dervan, All-Ireland winning minor Davy Glennon and wing-back Johnny Rafferty.

No doubt, they are three influential individuals to take out of any side, and if the club are unable to overturn those suspensions, then a place in the knockout stages may just be beyond them. Still, the 2009 semi-finalists could quite easily hurl up a storm this year following the events of the last five months.

For more, read page 56 of this week’s Galway City 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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