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Archive News

Mayo footballers pull off shock of the summer



Date Published: 05-Aug-2011

IT’S virtually 60 years since Mayo footballers last brought home the Sam Maguire Cup and when they stumbled to extra time

against the minnows of London in the opening round of the Connacht championship in Ruislip, even the county’s most dyed in the wool supporters must have been resigned to a short summer.

Under new manager James Horan, Mayo had managed to retain their Division One status in the National League, but their performances were nothing exceptional and having just about avoided an embarrassing championship exit to the Exiles, there was little or no confidence behind Alan Dillon and company. An average team with serious doubts about their character wasn’t expected to go places.

Having survived that major fright against London, Mayo hosted Galway in the provincial semifinal at McHale Park in late June.

It was a bad game between what looked two bad teams and the home fans were hardly overjoyed with the half-time situation – trailing by four points after Paul Conroy had grabbed an opportunist goal for the Tribesmen.

Mind you, Mayo would have the backing of the wind on the resumption and with Galway, incredibly, only managing a solitary point over the entire second-half, they gradually assumed control with an Alan Freeman goal helping them to a comfortable 1-12 to 1-6 victory.

Mayo were back in the Connacht final and though marginal favourites to beat title holders Roscommon in Hyde Park, nobody seemed to be too excited.

Again the weather intervened to impact on the standard of football and again Mayo had to come back from a four point interval deficit. The accuracy of Cillian O’Connor was to prove a vital plank in their eventual narrow victory and Mayo were the kings of Connacht again.

There was little hype, however, about the achievement with some neutral observers more interested in condemning the overall quality of the fare in the province.

As a result, Mayo had a low profile build up to last Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Cork.

The reigning champions appeared to be striking form at the right time following their convincing victory over Down and though injuries were taking their toll on the team’s forward division, nobody could envisage the new Connacht title holders pulling off to what has amounted as the GAA shock of the year.

Mayo could have been backed at 11/2 to come through their latest Croke Park date with the Rebels and when Cork stormed into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead, thanks chiefly to Donncha O’Connor’s early penalty, there were fears that they might suffer a hammering reminiscent of the 1993 All-Ireland semi-final between the teams – a day Cork amassed 5-15.

But Mayo didn’t wilt this time.

All over the field, they hung in there and with wing forward Kevin McLaughlin landing a priceless goal following a penetrating run,

they thundered back into the game.

Though Paul Kerrigan went on to raise another green flag for Cork before the interval, Mayo had survived their early crisis, only trailing by 2-5 to 1-6 at the interval.

Naturally, they still had it all or do – or so we thought – but, at least, the modest crowd of less than 23,000 in GAA headquarters were getting a competitive game.

Incredibly, Cork would only manage a solitary point in the second-half when John Miskella’s fisted effort in the 52nd minute brought the teams level after Enda Varley ( free), goalkeeper Robert Hennelly (45) and Dillon had all raised white flags to send Mayo to the front.

Fintan Goold then missed a great goal chance for a Cork team which looked flat and battle weary, and had no answer to the winners’ final quarter surge.

This was a marvellous achievement for Mayo and their team management, led by the low key Horan, and the fact that there was

so little hype about them in advance of the match was perfect.

The relatively small turn-out of Mayo fans in Croke Park tells its own story – some of them were even afraid that their team might lose heavily – but the underdogs tore up the script with a purposeful and confident effort.

For more see John McIntyre’s Inside Track in this week’s 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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