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Mountains and molehills: JoeÕs storm in a teacup



Date Published: 20-Sep-2012

The surreal sense of anti-climax which followed the final whistle of the drawn All-Ireland hurling final seemed to extend through all of last week for elements of the national media, who seized on a couple of pretty innocuous comments by Galway’s Joe Canning and turned them into a storm of ‘controversy’ which bore little relevance to what he actually said.

Hardly anybody expected Galway to put it up to the title-holders in the manner they did on September 9 and, no doubt, many of the national GAA correspondents had planned to spend last week lauding Kilkenny’s sixth title success in seven years and Henry Shefflin’s achievement in becoming the first ever hurler to win nine All-Ireland medals. A glance at the match programme shows that all five ‘experts’ went for Kilkenny to retain their title.

There was a void to be filled, and sure enough an unsuspecting Canning managed to fill it with a couple of pretty minor comments at the end of a routine 12-minute interview with a number of journalists in the build-up to the U-21 All-Ireland final.

The young Portumna man must have been shocked to wake up on Wednesday morning and find that he had made national headlines, accusing Shefflin of being ‘unsporting’ in a front page splash by the country’s biggest selling newspaper. The same paper went on to run six pages over two days about the same ‘controversy’, which even led former Kilkenny star Eddie Keher to proclaim that he was “horrified” by Canning’s remarks.

But Canning never said that Shefflin was ‘unsporting’, rather that a particular action on the day was “not sportsmanlike”. He said that the Kilkenny star had run 30 to 40 yards to remonstrate with referee Barry Kelly over the awarding of one specific free in the drawn game, which is an entirely different matter.

The Galway attacker’s comments that Kilkenny defender JJ Delaney, was “not happy” when Shefflin hit his 68th minute penalty over the bar were, perhaps, ill-judged. But when you hear them back on the audio which was widely circulated in the wake of the ‘controversy’, you realise they were made in a jocular manner right at the end of an informal interview.

What Canning said was probably repeated in one way or another by every single person in the 82,000 crowd as they left the ground, and the hundreds of thousands watching on television, as most hurling fans would have speculated that a Kilkenny goal at that stage would have killed off the game.

One of the problems with modern hurling is how ‘invisible’ the current generation of stars are. Since the advent of the obligatory helmets rule, even the likes of Waterford’s John Mullane does not stick out on a pitch any more. It has often been remarked that that there are surprisingly few household names (or well-known faces) on the current Kilkenny team, who are notoriously shy of the media despite all they have achieved.

But then you see how Canning’s words were twisted out of context last Wednesday and you can understand why many inter-county hurlers, who are amateurs after all, are so wary of elements of the media.

When you see the obscene amounts of money many soccer players in the English Premier League are paid, we should be proud of our local hurling heroes, who work so hard to represent their families, parishes, and counties for nothing more than the love of the game.

What Canning said or didn’t say will have no bearing on the outcome of the replay, just as Brian Cody’s concerns over strict refereeing had no bearing on the drawn game, which was particularly well handled by Westmeath official Barry Kelly.

For more, read this week’s Galway City 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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