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Kerry show why its dangerous to write off great teams



Date Published: 25-Jul-2012

GREAT teams should never be written off. Last Saturday week in Mullingar, the struggling Kerry footballers were staring down the barrel of a shock championship exit to Westmeath. Six points down early in the second-half, facing the wind and with many of their key players out of sorts, the sport’s greatest power stood on the brink of a first ever defeat in the qualifiers.

Having failed to impress against Tipperary in the Munster championship and, subsequently, coming up well short to arch rivals Cork, the prophets of doom were already out in force for the Kerry men even ahead of what had appeared a routine assignment in the Midlands. Ultimately, it took a controversial refereeing decision to drag them back into the contest against Westmeath and, even then, they just scraped home – and were lucky to do so.

In the following days, former Kerry greats joined the popular chorus line that the team was gone and that the game was nearly up for manager Jack O’Connor too. Though there was criticism of team selection and the positioning of some players, notably Kieran Donaghy, there was also a general acceptance that the legs of the older team members had fought too many battlers and that the hunger was no longer there. In short, the Kingdom were looking a busted flush.

Well, the critics have been slinking back into their burrows this week after a reinvigorated Kerry put Tyrone to the sword in front of a passionate home following in Killarney last Saturday. The Ulster men had tormented their hosts and O’Connor over the past decade with high profile and tradition-bursting triumphs in the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final and the finals of 2005 and ’08. To put it mildly, Tyrone had the Indian sign  on Kerry and wouldn’t be intimidated at heading into their backyard.

In retrospect, the qualifier draw was the kick up the rear end that Kerry desperately needed. If ever a fixture was going to stir the marrow in their bones, get their blood flowing and ignite their passion, this was it. The opposition which had had caused them so much anguish in the past was heading into their own town and, by hook or crook, they were going to be ready for them. The fact they Kerry had a point to prove after several sluggish displays only steeled them further for the challenge.

Their supporters turned out in force, there was tension in the air, but most significantly of all, Kerry looked a transformed team virtually from the throw in. The urgency and vitality was back, with Declan O’Sullivan and Paul Galvin, two players who had been below their best this year, carrying the fight to Tyrone from the start. They only led by four points at the break, but Kerry were controlling the battle ground and ought to have been further clear.

Tyrone, understandably, tried to slow the game down and make it more physical, but Kerry were in no mood for compromise, not even when raiding defender Conor Gormley scrambled home a goal in the 44th minute against the run of play. Though the concession of such a score might have given Kerry the jitters in the past, if anything it only spurred Colm Cooper and company to raise their tempo even further. Almost immediately, they broke through for a goal of their own with Bryan Sheehan laying on the killer pass for Donaghy to palm home at the far post.

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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