Date Published: 26-Apr-2012
FRANK FARRAGHER AT McHALE PARK
ANOTHER dirge to be delivered and alas equally as doleful as the hurling lament of the previous weekend, with Galway’s footballers taking their leave from the Connacht championship in the most forlorn of circumstances at Castlebar on Sunday.
Indeed by half-time, the crowd of over 19,000 could have been forgiven for thinking that the Connacht Council had relieved them of their entrance money under false pretences, such was the dullness of the first 35 minutes with the game oscillating from the mediocre to the truly awful.
The hefty admission charges of €30 and €25 ensured that large chunks of the concrete seats were empty – do the Connacht Council have any idea at all of the times we’re living in – the stay-at-home brigade were the wise ones at the end of a dank and dreary day at McHale Park. Last Sunday, the lustre was gone from this traditional jewel in the Connacht football calendar.
Mayo do at least have the consolation of a win under their belts against their great rivals in Connacht but this week the Galway footballing family will have to reflect on one of the worst championship performances delivered in decades by a county team – in the end Tomás Ó Flatharta’s sides can be grateful that the margin of victory wasn’t at least double the final gap.
Galway have gone nowhere fast this year with no clear vision or strategy either for the present or the future and the policy of appointing two outside managers in a row in the space of two years must face its judgment day. To say that it hasn’t worked is stating the case for the prosecution very mildly – put more bluntly it has been an unmitigated disaster for the county team.
The maroon line-up for last Sunday had a full back playing at midfield, a wing back lining out in the forward line, with two midfielders playing in the centre back and full forward positions . . . it really was one awful nightmare but there was to be no wake-up call.
The competitive flame was only kept alive in the first half by the abysmal failure of the Mayo forward line to capitalise on the wealth of possession that their midfield and half backline were generating.
When Mayo trotted in at half-time trailing by 1-5 to 0-4 with goalkeeper Robert Hennelly their top scorer on two points, there was nearly a feeling that we had all been sucked into through one of Lewis Carroll’s looking glasses . . . . things were getting curiouser and curiousier.
By the time we stretched the legs at the interval, this match could quite easily have passed for a Division 3 or 4 mid-winter league tie with Galway living on scraps of possession and Mayo kicking shocking wides as well as dropping a series of frees short into Adrian Faherty’s small square.
Things were so awful that it looked as if Paul Conroy’s 29th minute goal from close range could be the deciding score of the match but for Galway – in trouble in defence, wiped out in midfield and devoid of possession in attack – the lucky streak just couldn’t last.
Mayo powered on in the second half and even if their game wasn’t built on any unshakeable buttresses of confidence, they were still a lot better at doing the basics than Galway – critically they could win ball in the air, mop up the breaks around midfield, and with that cushion of possession, the scores just had to arrive.
A lot of Galway heads will have to be scratched to recall a worse second half performance in championship football over the past 20 years. Over the course of 38 minutes, the Galway attack delivered just one score – an Eoin Concannon point that ironically should have been a goal – for most of that time, maroon hands just couldn’t get on the ball.
Galway were in desperate trouble at midfield all through where Joe Bergin and Finian Hanley could never get to grips with the Mayo sibling pairing of Seamus and Aidan O’Shea – it is desperately unfair to keep on playing Hanley, a natural full back or possibly a centre back – in a role that he clearly is not suited to, or settled with.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013