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Mervue United extend their lead at the top of the table



Date Published: {J}

THIS time of the year, the prestigious Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup competitions crank into action, with the third-level Gaelic games scene becoming the proverbial beehive. Newly appointed Gaelic Games Development Officer at NUI Galway, Michael O’Connor, will certainly testify to that.

Although only months in the job, taking over from another Clare man Adrian Hassett, O’Connor has took it upon himself – and the university – to host the knockout stages of the Fitzgibbon Cup on the first weekend of March. To add to his workload in 2011, NUI Galway will then host the grand finale of the Sigerson Cup and its associate competitions.

“We decided that we would go and have a cut at it,” says O’Connor. “Maybe it was because I was new to the job. I had a fit of madness. If I had second thoughts, I may have thought otherwise about it now,” he laughs.

That said, O’Connor is more than capable of spearheading and, more importantly, coordinating the ventures locally. In addition to being a regular GAA contributor to local newspapers and radio stations in his native Clare and neighbouring Galway, O’Connor has served in a number of roles on the Clare County Board, including Youth Officer and Coaching Officer. He is also a past secretary of the Juvenile Hurling Board. So, he is no stranger to the administration side of Gaelic games.

“There is still an awful lot of work in it,” says O’Connor. “You have to get the students involved and there are numerous, numerous issues to deal with. I must compliment the college authorities, though. They have been absolutely brilliant.”

He also praises a long line of individuals, including Director of Elite Athletes, Gary Ryan, while also paying tribute to his old friend, Tony ‘Horse’ Regan, who retired as Head of Sport at the university after 36 years in charge last autumn.

Indeed, in many ways, the man fondly known as ‘Horse’ is responsible for O’Connor’s appointment. Earlier this decade, the Clare man decided to return to college, attending NUI Galway, where he met up with Regan, who promptly ‘invited’ the Crusheen man to get involved in the hurling club.

O’Connor, who has trained teams at all levels in Crusheen, except senior, duly did by taking charge of the Freshers and, in 2005, his young charges claimed that particular first year championship. Of that side, Liam Mellows’ John Lee, Mullagh’s Finian Coone and Newmarket’s David Barrett all still represent the university with distinction. It was arguably the highlight of O’Connor’s five-year association with the Freshers side.

As the Clare man continues to grow into his new role, organising training session and games, and looking at ways to further promote Gaelic games in the college, he is also becoming increasingly aware of the need to offer students a balanced approach … ensuring that as many as possible can play while, at the same time, respecting their educational requirements.

“In this modern day, the academic needs of the students are more important than ever. They can’t just be happy now, unlike years ago, to go and get a basic degree and move on to the next level. They need the highest degree possible, especially in the current climate, where even a lot of the well-qualified good young players are finding it very difficult to get work. So, that has now to become their priority.”

For more read page 52 of 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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