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Intermediate hurlers aiming to keep Galway’s flag flying high



Date Published: 16-Aug-2012

 GALWAY intermediate hurlers will hope a rising tide lifts all boats when they face Kilkenny in their All-Ireland semi-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday (2pm).

Following the Tribesmen’s senior semi-final victory over Cork last weekend, Galway’s development squad, which involves a number of senior panellists, will look to advance to a meeting against Tipperary in the national decider on Saturday, September 1.

No doubt, the development process initiated in Galway for 2012 looks to be working nicely at present – at least at senior level – although the lack of competitive games for this group of players has to be cause for some concern, particularly if Saturday’s fixture is their only competitive game this year.

Gort’s Jason Grealish is out with a knee injury while Loughrea wing-back Paul Hoban (ankle) is in a race to be fit. A number of other players have been forced to withdraw through injury throughout the year, including Clarinbridge’s Eoin Forde and Turloughmore’s Matthew Keating.

Other than that, though, manager Johnny Kelly will have a strong panel to pick from. Craughwell’s Jamie Ryan and Portumna’s Joe Keane will fight it out for the No.1 jersey while in defence, Declan Connolly (Killimordaly), Eoin Fahy (Killimor), Ger O’Halloran (Craughwell), Daithí Burke (Turloughmore) and Darragh Burke (St. Thomas’) are all frontrunners to start.

With Grealish out, Kelly has had to look to other midfield options and among those who could feature in this area are Carnmore’s Domhnaill Fox, Athenry’s Conor Burke, Ardrahan’s Cormac Diviney and Castlegar’s Dean Higgins.

Craughwell’s Niall Healy will not only lead the attack from the full forward berth, he will also captain the side, and he will, most likely, be aided in the offensive endeavours by the likes of Gort’s Greg Lally, St. Thomas’ Bernard Burke and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry’s Shane Moloney.

As for Kilkenny, they have had just one match to date this year, defeating Wexford 3-20 to 2-14 in the Leinster final. To the fore in that win was Rory Hickey, who scored 1-6 (1-1 from play), while Walter Walsh (1-3), Robbie Walsh (1-0), Niall Walsh and Ger Alyward (0-3 each) also made significant contributions.

One of the strengths of the Cats intermediate team has always been that it has had a consistent core group of players down through the years and although they have blooded more of their U-21s during the current year, they can still call on the likes of Mark Phelan and Pat Hartley.

In contrast, Galway’s starting line-outs in recent years have chopped and changed, with one of the reasons for this being apathy from the clubs and players. In fairness, Galway did field a decent side against Clare in the semi-final last year, a game in which the Tribesmen netted two goals in the opening 90 seconds but subsequently lost 2-18 to 2-9.

Only two players survive from that set-up, namely Alan Leech and Conor Kavanagh, and while this represents another massive turnover in players, with the new development process that has been put in place, there should be more consistency in the Galway sides that field at this grade in the coming years.

In many respects, though, this competition has become archaic – reflected in the imbalance that exists within the structure at present. Indeed, for many, it is almost an afterthought and, to some degree, it operates outside the system in that it does not have the stature of the Liam McCarthy or, indeed, Christy Ring or Nicky Rackard competitions.

For instance, no Ulster team has taken part in the intermediate championship in 2012 while only two teams from Leinster – Kilkenny and Wexford – have participated. However, in Munster, Tipperary, Limerick, Clare, Wexford and Cork all fielded, with Tipperary defeating Clare by 1-18 to 0-17 in an entertaining provincial decider.

When it comes to changing its structures – even for a periphery competition like this – the GAA has traditionally been slow and, perhaps, this is why the game of hurling has utterly failed to prosper outside the top counties.

Just look at the four All-Ireland senior hurling semi-finalists, Kilkenny, Cork, Tipperary and Galway. Between them, they have won 93 All-Ireland titles with the remaining 31 divided out between nine other counties, including Kerry (1891), London (1901) and Laois (1915). Simply, outside the top 10– and that’s a push – every other county has been left behind.

In any event, the GAA should take a leaf out of their camogie counterparts’ book and instigate an intermediate championship attractive to counties and hurling enthusiasts, whereby this competition could be used to help the likes of Carlow, Down, Kerry, Derry and Wicklow, among the others, to bridge the gap by playing the top side’s second string sides. Such a format would also offer more games and, as Kelly notes, it is games that motivates players.

However, this concept – of the top counties having two representative teams competing in a tiered and structured environment – seems somewhat alien to the powers-that-be but, at least, Galway, for their part, have given the championship a great deal of respect by adopting it as a development panel for their rising stars.

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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