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Odds favour ‘old guard’ in hurling semi-finals



Date Published: 25-Oct-2012


IT speaks volumes for the Galway senior hurling championship that three of the four semi-finalists are unbeaten in the competition to date and that the other, St. Thomas’ only defeat was to reigning county champions Gort, who they will meet again this weekend.

No doubt, the restructured championship has been a real success – the unpreventable lateness of its running aside – and what has really transpired is that the form teams of 2012 have advanced to the penultimate stages of the championship.

Of course, some could make arguments for the inclusion of the likes of Portumna and Mullagh at this stage of the competition, but the fact of the matter is that both were soundly beaten not once but twice this year.

In contrast, defending champions Gort, an ultra consistent Loughrea and a resurgent Turloughmore have all swept through to the closing stages without suffering a defeat while St. Thomas’, who drew with Loughrea in the group stages, have lost only once . . . that to near rivals Gort in the first round.

In any event, there should be nothing between next door neighbours Gort and St. Thomas’ when they line out in the opening semi-final in Athenry on Sunday before Loughrea and Turloughmore meet in what should be an absolutely enthralling encounter at the same venue.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals of the inaugural Senior Shield competition take place this weekend, with Craughwell meeting Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry in Loughrea on Saturday (12noon) and Kinvara and Sarsfields facing off in the other semi-final in Gort on Sunday (11am).


Gort v St. Thomas’

(Kenny Park, Athenry 1.30pm)

County champions Gort will be without captain and defender Andy Coen after his red card against Padraig Pearses in the quarter-finals but on a more positive note, forwards Gerard Quinn, who missed the Pearses fixture, and Keith Killilea have recovered from hamstring and leg injuries respectively.

Gort and St. Thomas’ are no strangers to each other, given this will be their third meeting in 12 months while they have also been trading similar blows in recent times at U-21 and underage level. “We know each other well,” agrees Gort mentor John Commins.

“We have met in two U-21 finals and played each other in three senior championship matches in the last four years and all of those games have always been very tight. So, there is a healthy rivalry between both sides and both will know this semi-final is a big ask.”

As for St. Thomas’, they must be sick to the back teeth of Gort, particularly after losing last year’s semi-final and this year’s first round tie to the same opposition. “That said, we are confident ourselves,” says manager John Burke. “We know what it is about having been around the last couple of years.

“We are learning every day and I think that if we can get a performance out of the team, then we will take stopping also. I suppose, what I’m saying is that it is all on the day. There has only been a puck of the ball between us any time we have played and we will be hoping we get the nod this time.”

Certainly, St. Thomas’ are more than capable of producing the big performances, although they still have to post that big win. Some may say they did that against Portumna last year, but question marks remain over that result given Andy Smith and Joe Canning were unavailable to Portumna due to suspension on that occasion.

In any event, Sunday is a time for St. Thomas’ to show their maturity – for no longer can the likes of Conor Cooney, James Regan and Bernard Burke be viewed as youthful players with great potential. It’s time for them to wield the experience they have acquired on the inter-county scene to affect the outcome of a ‘big day’ club clash.

Yes, St. Thomas’ are due a breakthrough win – no more so than against Gort – but, in saying that, the title holders will certainly want their say. Gort will, of course, have to fill the huge vacuum left by their suspended spiritual leader Coen but in defenders Mark McMahon, Michael Cummins, Jason Grealish, Brian Regan and Sylvie Óg Linnane, they have the players to do this.

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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