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Kerry football giant nearly puts it all down to ÔluckÕ



Date Published: {J}

AFTER just a couple of minutes with former Kerry Gaelic footballer, Darragh Ó Sé, you get a real sense of not only the man, but the legend. For while his inter-county days – during which he won an incredible six All-Ireland medals – may be behind him, the remnants of the burning desire still remains.

It may surprise some that Darragh Ó Sé was not always the first name on the club, never mind the Kerry team-sheet, growing up. In fact, until he hit his late teens, he was just another hopeful looking to make a name for himself in the game.

“There was no question about it, I wasn’t one of the better [underage] players,” admits Ó Sé, who has made the long, arduous trip to Craughwell GAA to present county medals to the rising stars of the fledgling football club. “There were better players underage than me, but, that said, I genuinely really wanted to play for Kerry. I wanted to be better than the rest. And I wanted to play as much for the county as I could.

“Funny thing, though, I never played much at midfield at underage, but I always wanted to play midfield for Kerry! So, I set very high standards; I set the bar right up there,” he laughs. “I didn’t care if I believed it or not. I just wanted it.”

To many, that may seem, as he says himself, “unbelievable”, but in his case, it just underlined his innate ambitious nature. “I was lucky enough because in my last year as a minor, between the age of 17 and 18, I grew a couple of inches, which made a big difference to me. That probably set me up then to play midfield.”

In speaking to Ó Sé – who has just released his autobiography, entitled ‘Darragh’ – the words “lucky”, “fortunate” and “enjoyable” dominate the discussion. Amazingly, for a man who played 16 years in the green and gold of Kerry, won those six All-Ireland medals, nine Munster titles, three National Leagues and four All-Stars, he feels, genuinely, “lucky”, “fortunate” and “privileged”.

Then again, Ó Sé enjoyed the same kind of upbringing as most of his peers – albeit, with the notable exceptional that his uncle, the great Páidí Ó Sé lived next door – and a young Darragh loved nothing more than kicking ball around the back garden with his brothers Fergal, Marc and Tómas.

Inevitably, there were a few broken windows over the years. “Oh windows broke, the whole lot,” exclaims Ó Sé with a broad smile. “Like every other house which had kids of that age I imagine. But it was very enjoyable as well. I have great memories of my youth, growing up like that, playing football and going to games.”

It all laid the foundation for an illustrious career in later years, one that was punctuated by as many highs as lows. There was rarely an in-between. He says, not surprisingly, that his first All-Ireland win in 1997 – a 0-13 to 0-7 victory over Mayo – was “hugely enjoyable”, but adds, “every All-Ireland, in fairness, had its own merits”.

“The All-Ireland win in 2000 (over Galway) would also be very high on my achievement list, because of the fact that we won both the semi-final and final after replays,” continues the former midfielder. “So, we went the hard way about it. 2006 was also very enjoyable. We beat Mayo in the final, but we had a tough route along the way. In 2009, we were on the ropes in a lot of the games there, but then we got to Croke Park and turned it around (with an All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Dublin).”

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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