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Loughrea have a chance Ð but only a small one!



Date Published: {J}

IT has almost become par for the course now – a heavyweight collision between Portumna and Loughrea at the business end of the Galway senior hurling championship. Four times in the past seven years, these two clubs have clashed in the county final with the tempestuous 2006 showdown still largely remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Undoubtedly, it was an unsavoury encounter but it was also the day that Loughrea displayed tremendous character in coming from behind against all the odds to achieve the club’s first championship triumph since the early forties. Having lost to Portumna in the finals of 2003 and ’05, it represented a landmark triumph for Loughrea, but the natural order of things between these teams was brutally restored last November.

When Portumna hammered Kinvara by 6-12 to 0-11 in the 2007 decider, we all assumed it would be a long time before there would be such a one-sided final again, but less than 11 months ago Ollie Canning and company recorded another 19 points victory when putting Loughrea to the sword on a 5-19 to 1-12 scoreline. The border men were pumped up for revenge and the match was over at half-time with Damien Hayes running riot, finishing the match with 3-3 to his credit.

Walking out of Pearse Stadium last November, it wasn’t hard to imagine that it was the finish of this Loughrea team. Club stalwarts Vinny Maher, Damien McClearn, Gregory Kennedy, Johnny O’Loughlin, Dermot Melia, Nigel O’Shaughnessy and Johnny Dooley were all pushing on and it appeared a period of transition was ahead of the club. Their group campaign this year hardly disabused that notion, losing to Kiltormer and only scraping into the knock-out stages by virtue of a narrow win over Craughwell.

They came up against the same opponents in the quarter-final and when Craughwell pushed two points clear in the final quarter, you sensed it was game up for Loughrea, but their greater experience stood them in good stead as a late goal from the previously subdued Johnny Maher earned them another crack against Portumna. They weren’t particularly impressive, but you could see that they had scope for improvement.

What has helped Loughrea recover so quickly from last year’s trauma is the infusion of some new blood like county minor Paul Hoban and Emmet Mahony – young pair, Johnny Coen and Neil Keary are a year older too – while the repositioning of some of the old guard hasn’t done them any harm either, notably Brian Mahony’s move from midfield to defence. Furthermore, veteran Nigel Shaughnessy, who missed last year’s final due to injury, is back anchoring the defence from the number six jersey.

Of course, Loughrea still have it all to do against the champions. Portumna may have beaten Mullagh by ten points in the recent quarter-final, but they hardly sparkled in doing so. It was more a case of their challengers being spooked by being on the same field as the team which continues to dominate Galway club hurling. How else does one explain the early concession of three giveaway goals and consistently taking the wrong options up front. Mullagh aren’t a bad team, but they played like one in Ballinasloe last Sunday week.


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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