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Out of depth hurlers get terrible hiding from Cats

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Date Published: 04-Apr-2012

Kilkenny 3-26

Galway 0-10

STEPHEN GLENNON AT NOWLAN PARK

GALWAY senior hurlers are staring relegation from Division 1A of the National League straight in the face after they received an unmerciful 25-point walloping at the hands of All-Ireland champions Kilkenny at Nowlan Park on Sunday.

As a result, the Tribesmen have been thrown into a relegation dogfight against Dublin – a side they, admittedly, have already defeated in the first round of the National League but, worryingly, were soundly beaten by in the Leinster Championship in 2011.

It has been a long time since those dark days when Galway hurling plied its trade in the second tier of the National League – one Galway pundit believed it to be the early 1970s – but as GAA historians clamour for the annals, the fact remains that such a drop would be detrimental to the game in the county.

One has only to take a look at the likes of Clare, Offaly and Wexford – three counties who have won All-Ireland titles in the last 15 years or so – to see the damning repercussions of being made to slog it out in a lower division. Simply, you don’t challenge for – never mind win – All-Ireland titles when starting from such a low base.

As for Galway, there was a lot of doom and gloom among the loyal band of travelling supporters leaving Nowlan Park . . . but where there was overwhelming anger vented towards the players and management following the defeats to Dublin and Waterford in the Leinster and All-Ireland championships respectively last Summer, on this occasion the emotions bled between resignation and frustration. It was hard not to sympathise with those sentiments.

In truth, though, the Galway players have taken some amount of stick over the past number of years. Watching them trudge one by one from the dressing-room, heads bowed sullenly, after this latest mis-match, its serves no purpose to beat them with a stick that many of them have been scourged with time and again.

The Galway hurlers and management are aware of their deficiencies and shortcomings – lack of aerial power, failure to win primary possession and so on – and a diatribe here would be just rehashing sentiments expressed far too often in match reports in recent times. You could just copy and paste.

Still, Galway must now look within themselves and find a performance of note against Dublin on the second weekend of April if they are to avoid the ignominy of a drop to Division 1B, which, call it what you will, is Division 2 hurling.

However, for that grain of hope, they will not be looking towards this contest. By half-time, they trailed 3-12 to 0-6, after Matthew Ruth (4 mins.), man of the match TJ Reid (13 mins.) and Eoin Larkin (30 mins.) banged in goals in the opening half hour of the contest to give the Cats an unassailable lead.

It didn’t help that the majority of Kilkenny’s first half scores came from basic Galway mistakes – schoolboy errors they are called – with too often the Tribesmen defence caught fumbling ball underneath their feet when it should have been driven 60 or 70 yards down the field. Two examples were Kilkenny’s second and third goals when Galway full-back David Collins, uncharacteristically, coughed up possession very cheaply.

And yet, when it came to making changes, the management team of Anthony Cunningham, Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny chose to withdraw their three full-forwards, one after the other, in the opening 29 minutes.

Corner forward James Regan must have been scratching his head as he walked towards the line on 23 minutes, given he saw limited ball and whatever deliveries he did receive was of a far inferior quality than the possession being hammered into the Kilkenny forwards. It was food and drink for the likes of Kilkenny defenders Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney and co.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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