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New Galway mentors need to start spreading their wings



Date Published: {J}

GIVEN that Galway supporters don’t place much stock on the FBD League, the first real test of Tomás Ó Flatharta’s management was always going to come in the opening round of the National Football League away to Monaghan in early February. In the build up to the game, the vibes had been good from the camp, the players were training hard and the team mentors were organised and enthusiastic.

A number of trial games and tough training sessions had underlined the business-like approach of Flatharta, Sean Og de Paor and Martin McNamara since they had been appointed, while the feedback from players was positive. There was also far less hype around the place compared to when Joe Kernan had taken over even if injuries continued to stalk the team’s National League preparations.

With the likes of Diarmuid Blake, Padraic Joyce and Michael Meehan still on the casualty list, Nicky Joyce yet to rejoin the squad and St. James’ pair, Paul Conroy and Eoin Concannon, still unavailable, Galway followers would have been expecting a fresh appeal to the team chosen to face Monaghan, but with the exception of corner back Kieran McGrath and attacker Cillian de Paor, the rest of the line out were all largely tried and tested. Sure, Eddie Hoare was also back from injury and there was a new position for Gareth Bradshaw, but some fans were concerned by the familiarity of the starting 15, although Greg Higgins was a late call up for Joe Bergin.

Anyway, none of that seemed to matter when Galway stormed into an early lead after raiding wing back Gary O’Donnell, Sean Armstrong, Higgins, Cormac Bane and Hoare, who began promisingly, all found the target. In fact, the Tribesmen had rattled over six points in the opening 12 minutes and with further scores from Matthew Clancy, Armstrong, Higgins and Hoare, everything appeared to be going smoothly when they led by 0-10 to 0-6 by the 27th minute.

Sadly, it was all downhill for Galway after that. They didn’t raise another flag prior to the interval, only landed a solitary point in the opening 26 minutes of the second-half and ended up losing convincingly to a seriously understrength Monaghan team which most observers had considered prime candidates for relegation to Division Two. Galway’s fade out was somewhat demoralising even allowing for the time of year.

Significantly, it was two of Monaghan’s most battle-hardened players, midfielder Dick Clerkin and Paul Finlay, along with lively corner forward Conor McManus, who did most to drag the home team back into the contest as Galway began to lose the midfield battle.

Furthermore, their back-line really started to creak while the forwards became increasingly prone to panic shooting. Once things started slipping on Galway, the lack of on-field leadership and confidence was extremely worrying.

That’s the legacy of several disappointing years, especially in 2010 when they lost in the championship to both Sligo and Wexford, two counties who aren’t within an ass’s roar of winning the All-Ireland title and while the appointment of a new management always brings fresh hope, the reality is that they are seriously devoid of quality players at the moment, while there also seems to be a lack of genuine pace about the field.

As last Sunday’s match progressed, Monaghan increasingly ran Galway off their feet while their decision-making was much sharper as well. Of course, it’s a long year and when Galway’s injured and unavailable players return to the fray, it will undoubtedly strengthen their ranks, but the management badly need to discover some new talent. The bottom line is that a lot of that Galway team which lined out in Clones have consistently fallen short at the highest level.

Perhaps, Ó Flatharta and his mentors could also look at the option of moving Finian Hanley to centre back. The Salthill man has pace, a good positional sense, an athletic frame and looks continually under-employed in the number three jersey. Sure, Kieran Fitzgerald had big problems in the left corner last Sunday, but the Corofin man’s natural home is on the edge of the square. Bradshaw should also be restored to wing back as his decision-making around midfield against Monaghan left something to be desired. The bottom line is that Galway need to tighten up their rearguard before they start going anywhere.

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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