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Archive News

No fairytale result, but what an occasion



Date Published: 22-Nov-2011

SO this is what we in the west have been missing for the last 16 seasons.

The result may have had a predictable feel to it but Saturday evening at the Sportsground was so far removed from anything ever seen at the home of Connacht Rugby.

Galway was abuzz, gripped by rugby fever.

The French aristocrats of Toulouse, Europe’s most successful club, rolled into town for the first ever Heineken Cup clash in the city, which lived up to its reputation of knowing how to throw a party. Garda escorts up the closed College Road, for guests of honour, President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Satellite TV, Sky, was in town, adding to the hype; even the IRFU ‘bigwigs’ and ‘blazers’ made the trip down the M6 from Dublin.

Ticket touts on College Road; match programmes from the Clan Terrace booths sold out almost 20 minutes before kick-off. Seriously, who’d have thought it?

An official attendance of 9,120, a record for a rugby match in the city, thronged into the newly revamped venue.

The pre-match entertainment – five drummers thundering out beats accompanied by green-clothed warriors on stilts, massive Macnas Parade style prop-forward caricatures in Connacht jerseys, scores of youngsters holding two huge flags of both clubs, and of course Eddie the Eagle – rose in a crescendo until the climax, a firework display that greeted the Connacht team’s arrival on field.

Free Connacht flags widely distributed throughout the ground ensured an ocean of green – and a deafening roar – awaited them.

It was goose bump-inducing, lump-in-the-throat stuff. That feeling didn’t last long though.

True, a steal by Mike McCarthy on Toulouse’s first line-out, and two Gavin Duffy kicks to either corner for territory, pinning the visitors back early on, dared the Connacht crowd to dream, but it wasn’t long before Toulouse asserted dominance with a clinical professionalism.

The star-studded French champions fielded an international- standard outfit that was laced with quality and within the blink of an eye, they were 9-0 to the good, thanks to the boot of Lionel Beauxis, who kicked a further 12 points before the night ended to deservedly take the man-of-the-match accolade.

Toulouse approached ruck time with a ferociousness previously not experienced by this Connacht outfit; they attacked with frightening speed on the counter attack from turnovers, and brought an awesome offloading game. Their defence was watertight, scarcely missing a tackle.

They held their own at lineout, but Connacht were bullied and beaten up at scrum time, completely annihilated by the power and brawn of the French pack, although ironically it was an attacking scrum that led to a Connacht penalty try, which came when the match was over as a contest but was just reward for the home side’s commitment and graft and for not lying down.

The floodgates never opened. Despite dodging bullets all evening, Connacht denied the visitors a four-try bonus point, which under the circumstances was an achievement in itself. A final score of 36-10 was no disgrace.

The crowd responded to that tireless effort chanting ‘Connacht, Connacht’ and singing The Fields of Athenry, but perhaps the odd rendition of ‘Que Sera, Sera . . . Whatever will be will be’, summed up the mood.

No fairytale result but what a special, memorable occasion. The West’s awake, indeed.

We could get used to this.

For a full match report see this week’s Sentinel and get more reaction and analysis in the Tribune on Thursday

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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