Date Published: 11-Oct-2012
WITH a population catchment of upwards of 15,000, Salthill/Knocknacarra GAA Club would be the envy of many rural clubs in County Galway, ravaged by emigration, who struggle to field teams.
Being an urban club does pose its own challenges, however, that country clubs don’t necessarily have to face to the same extent as a Galway City based outfit.
The strength of the structures of the local soccer club, Salthill Devon, and the lure of youngsters to rugby thanks to the increasingly fashionable franchise of Connacht Rugby, means that the likes of Salthill/Knocknacarra – and city clubs St Michael’s and St James’ – have to compete hard to attract, and more importantly retain, players to their games.
“It’s great that young people are all playing sport, any sport, but we’re trying to promote our games and there is intense competition for players. It is harder for us but days like Sunday where we have a team in the senior and minor final certainly helps to promote GAA here.
We’ve also got a very well organised executive committee,” says David Burke, club chairman, who is on the senior panel for Sunday.
Shamrock Rovers’ player Stephen O’Donnell won an underage All-Ireland Féile medal with Finian Hanley and Seán Armstrong and, had he not chosen the soccer path, would probably be playing this Sunday; ditto for Connacht’s Eoin Griffin, who also tasted GAA underage success with the club before choosing rugby – they are just two high profile examples of leakage of players away from GAA to other codes.
Founded in 1967 as St Kieran’s, the club was renamed Salthill GAA in the 1970s, and then Knocknacarra was added to the official title in the 1990s to reflect that many of the teams’ players were coming from that burgeoning suburb west of Salthill.
There are very real threats in terms of intense competition with rugby and soccer but the club is thriving at underage level where the likes of Tipperary hurling manager Éamon O’Shea and Galway football manager Alan Mulholland are involved in coaching, and it has two adult teams, senior and intermediate.
It is a sign of the strength in depth the Salthill club has at its disposal that six of last year’s panel, John Boylan, Peter Fahy, Stephen O’Reilly, Aonghus Callanan, Gearóid Armstrong and Michael O’Donnell, are all injured or abroad, yet the club has reached a county final.
Another problem faced by an urban side like Salthill – and Dublin GAA clubs have similar issues – with so much else going on in the area, attracting huge levels of support can be difficult. If a rural club in Connemara or North Galway was featuring this weekend, there wouldn’t be a sinner left in those villages for the match but Salthill has to work a little harder to pull the punters in even if there is a solid ‘hardcore’ fan base.
Burke explained that even though there is free entry for under 16s on Sunday, the club and its sponsor Nestor’s Supervalu printed 3,000 free entry coupons and distributed them throughout the schools in Salthill and Knocknacarra “to ensure there is as much interest as possible.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City 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