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Inside track on the Galway hot seat



Date Published: 27-Nov-2008

NOEL Lane opened the curtains and looked out the window last Tuesday morning and realised, in his own words, that he was ‘still a free man.’ John McIntyre went through the same routine and wondered what he had let himself in for. That was the gist of a conversation between us the day after I had been appointed the new Galway senior hurling team manager.

It’s been a hectic month of coming and going, telephone calls and meetings. Six other candidates were going through the same routine – all working feverishly in our attempts to succeed Ger Loughnane.

I’m sure along the way each of us had those moments of doubt and questioned our sanity in chasing a position which has become something of a poisoned chalice over the past two decades.

Having unsuccessfully stood for the post as far back as 1992 and ’94, it was always in my mind to make one more attempt at becoming Galway manager. In the interim, I had two stints with Offaly and worked with local clubs, Kinvara, Carnmore, Loughrea and Clarinbridge. There were some good days, but a lot of tough ones as well.

It was hard going, especially in 2005 when managing both Offaly and my own club, Lorrha, in North Tipperary. That was a rough nine months or so – meeting myself coming back on the road, if you get my drift – but I was in the zone and the blinkers were on. 2008 has been the complete opposite experience, however. For the first time in my life I had no direct involvement in hurling and at the beginning of the year I had tentative plans to do such diverse things as take dancing lessons (only out of necessity!) or learn a little Italian. In the end, all I did was walk the legs off Coco, the family’s vicious terrier.

Leaving Thurles last July after Galway’s disappointing exit to 14- man Cork, it was already obvious that the knives were out for Loughnane. I more or less decided then that in the event of him not being ratified for a third year, I would throw my hat into the ring if able to put a strong management team in place.

I contacted two men in early August to test the waters, but only one of them ended up being available. That was Joe Connolly.

We opened lines of communications, but it went no further than that until we saw how Loughnane fared out. Part of me was genuinely sorry for him the night he was removed as Galway manager. Sure, he had set himself up for a big fall, but along with Sean Treacy and Louis Mulqueen, the Clare man had invested a huge amount of effort since being appointed in September of 2006. I have no doubt that Ger would have done things much differently in the months ahead had he been allowed to stay in charge.

Connolly was extremely reluctant at first. He loves Galway hurling but …

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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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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