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So close and yet so far once again for Galway



Date Published: {J}

Eoghan Cormican

Sickening. Absolutely sickening. It’s hard to find a better or more apt adjective to describe Sunday’s All Ireland senior camogie final. Hearts sunk with the sounding of the final whistle.

Galway had come close, so close you could even visualise Brenda Hanney lifting the O’Duffy Cup, the homecoming to Killimor. Alas, it all unraveled so quickly. From nowhere, Wexford pounced and there was to be no way back.

Heartache and disappointment on September’s second Sunday has become an almost annual occurrence in the West. For Heather Cooney, Ann Marie Starr, Noreen Coen and Martina Conroy it was their first time to taste defeat at Croke Park.

Others such as Tara Rutledge and Brenda Hanney were left desolated for a second successive year. For Niamh Kilkenny, just 22 years of age, it was a third loss in four years. For Therese Maher the number stands at five.

Being there before doesn’t make it any easier to handle though and the mood in the Galway camp afterwards was devastation. The defeat was extremely hard to take, as this time, Galway delivered, fronted up, use whatever phrase you like. Galway played the better camogie for three quarters of the tie, but still, the famine continues.

Dragging themselves off the floor mentally is going to be a big ask of these players, how they will respond to last Sunday, however, will not be known for quite a while. Can they bounce back with a vengeance of will they fade away such as Galway did after successive defeats in 1997 and 1998.

In any event, bar the outstanding performances of Kate Kelly, Josie Dwyer, Claire O’Connor and Ursula Jacob, Wexford were second best in almost every other position. Galway did to Wexford what the South East women were supposed to do to them.

Galway worked tirelessly, hooked, blocked and tackled with a physical nature normally associated with Wexford. The defending champions just couldn’t cope and were forced to make several positional switched to regain momentum. From the throw in it was obvious Galway weren’t going to be brushed aside as easily as they were last year.

But as the game entered the final quarter and having failed to make any inroads on the Galway lead up to that point, Wexford didn’t panic. Their experience came to the fore and they showed buckets of character to draw level before edging ahead.

In the many post mortems that will be conducted this week, all will point to Galway’s failure to score in the last 10 minutes as decisive. Cutting a disconsolate figure, manager Noel Finn realised the significance of the statistic, the only blotch on an otherwise unblemished page.

“When you go 10 minutes without scoring, especially the last 10 minutes, you’re not going to hold out. They got the break and they took their scores. When Tara got the goal I thought we would drive on because we were hurling well at that stage, but Wexford dug deep and got the result and its heartbreak again for us this year,” Finn said.


The Cappataggle man revealed that during half-time, he pleaded with the Galway players to exhaust their every last ounce of energy and they responded to the manager’s call. By the 37th minute Galway had reversed a two point deficit into a three point advantage. This was Galway’s time – or so we thought.

“We talked about getting a good start to the second half and we did get a good start and we drove at them. We went three or four points up and I thought when we got the goal that we would drive on, but Wexford hung in there and a few little things didn’t go our way. I’m majorly disappointed, gutted for the players because they have worked really hard to get back.

“I thought myself we weathered the storm. Things didn’t really go our way in the first half; we hung in there and fought hard. I thought if we were a point or two down at half time we could regroup. We came out all guns blazing, and went three points up.”

What will really sicken Galway this week is the manner in which they tied up with victory in sight. Wexford were vulnerable, but the killer blow was never landed. Clearly relieved to still be alive in the contest after a litany of Galway misses, Wexford drew breath and the rest was a bitter cocktail of experience, class and magnificent conviction.

“It is disappointing when you don’t drive on but when you don’t score in the last 10 minutes it is going to have a big bearing on the game. If we could have put another point on the board and try to have that four or five point cushion, it would take them two or three scores to come back and try and draw it.

“The goal came against the run of play. It was a sucker punch that late, they got their dander up. They were winning the breaks and when you’re on the back foot it is very hard to try and push on.

“I just thought when Wexford went in front they killed the game, that’s experience, we have to learn, it’s very hard to lose two finals. I said coming up here today we were well prepared, better than last year and if we played to our ability we would have got a result.

“Wexford hit us hard, and fair play to them they are All Ireland champions and we have to suffer the consequences of losing another All Ireland.”

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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