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Leinster pack too much power for young Connacht



Date Published: 06-Jan-2011

With two minutes remaining in this New Year’s Day tussle, 19 year old Eoin McKeon popped a brilliantly disguised pass back inside to 20 year old Dermot Murphy, who made 30 metres and found Andrew Browne on his shoulder. The flanker linked well with Dylan Rogers and Eoin Griffin was on hand to finish.


That was a ray of light in an otherwise totally depressing Christmas period for Connacht. Four of those five players were born in Connacht, nurtured in Connacht clubs and have come through the Connacht Academy.


That they were part of a losing team came down to a number of issues, some key injuries played a part but this game was lost in part due to a poor on-field game plan, a typical lack of composure when scores were on offer and numerous unforced errors at key junctures.


More importantly, though, the game was lost because even without their frontline internationals, Leinster possess the kind of class in their backline that the westerners can only dream of having at the moment.


The outcome was in the balance at half time with the scoreline at 8-3 yet it felt dead in the water and similar to so many games that have gone before. Connacht had owned the ball but lacked incisiveness. Leinster had picked off a try from young winger Dave Kearney on their first attack thrown in three points more on another and withstood whatever Connacht had from there on.


It was 11-3 early in the second half when a Connacht lineout and powerful maul briefly raised hopes of a comeback. The surge took them 20 metres closer to the line but as they broke off the back of the still moving drive, a sloppy pass went to ground and another chance was gone.


Leinster won a penalty from the scrum, kicked to touch on half way, attacked with an incisive move through the centre involving Shaun Berne, Kearney and Eoin O’Malley and scored, through Kearney again, two phases later after a blistering attack. That was 18-3 and game over.


To their credit Connacht showed plenty of defiance before the next try. Eric Elwood’s men just don’t lie down in games this season even when frustration is at its highest. Leinster had to work their socks off for the third try scored by the tremendous Fergus McFadden, the fourth score from Niall Morris was a little too easy however, it came minutes later.


Circumstances are certainly working against the Connacht coach, the loss of Ray Ofisa has been keenly felt especially in the loose. His ball carrying and off shoulder runs are instrumental to Connacht’s attacking play and have been missed since his October injury. He has another two weeks on the sideline.


John Muldoon’s injury plagued season is another key problem while Gavin Duffy’s influence on the side is clearer than ever in his absence. Connacht’s counter attack against Leinster was almost non existent and no side can win without that aspect to their game plan.


Elwood was keen to point out the positive influence of his young guns and rightly so. Browne has made the number six jersey his own in recent games and was once again a shining light. The performance of Irish under 20 McKeon was another huge positive.

Throw in an impressive 80 minutes from Eoin Griffin returning from injury and a fine cameo from the bench from hooker Dermot Murphy who threw well in the lineout and made a great break for the try and you have something to feel positive about.


However, it might be a while before Connacht can end this losing run, the Dragons on Thursday means the Magners League Fixture makers have left the westerners facing three games in just eleven days. That’s a situation that has Elwood fuming this week, the second time this has happened this season.


It would be a remarkable achievement for an injury hit squad to even take a bonus point there leaving them with a month off from league action before the Scarlets visit in February. Two European games lie in between with little at stake and a chance to experiment.


The season isn’t all done just yet and the six home games still in store are all genuine opportunities but there is a gloomy feeling in the air after a run of eight games without a win and no sign of that changing any time soon. Tough times.


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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