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Surprise packets Leitir Mor to progress in Connacht



Date Published: 29-Oct-2009

NAOMH Anna Leitir Mór footballers find themselves in the strange position of favourites as they prepare for an historic clash in the Connacht intermediate club semi final against Leitrim champions Cloone at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (2.30pm).

It’s been many moons since the Connemara men were favourites to win a crunch tie – and even if their favouritism this weekend is earned simply by virtue of them hailing from Galway and playing a Leitrim club – how they handle that pressure tag will have a major bearing on who qualifies through to the Connacht final.

Surprise packets Leitir Mór have worn the underdogs tag with gusto throughout this year’s championship – showing enormous hunger and continuously pressurising, hassling and harrying their opponents at every opportunity – as they defied the bookies’ odds with sensational triumphs over Oughterard and St James’ in the County semi-final and final in autumn, as well as minor upsets in earlier rounds.

Leitir Mór have no major injury concerns ahead of the showdown although the West Connemara islands were hit with a bout of influenza over a fortnight ago which affected seven players and disrupted training.

The flu resulted in their league clash against St James’ – a replay of the county final – being postponed two weeks ago but full training resumed again last Friday with a full compliment, bar one, recovering and togging out.

Manager Ciarán Ó Fátharta and his backroom team – which includes Galway’s All-Ireland winning substitute goalkeeper Pat Comer, who brought a fresh voice to training when he came on board before the county semi-final – has only ‘niggly’ injury concerns and looks set to keep faith with the same 15 that started against St James’ in the county final.

That said ‘super-sub’ Patrick Mark Ó Fátharta, who scored vital late points in the semi-final and final victories, will once again be pushing hard for a starting berth in the forwards, giving the selectors a welcome headache this weekend. Ó Fátharta’s displays to date merit a start although he may be held back again for the impact he brings when he comes on as a sub.

Leitir Mór’s strength throughout their county championship campaign has been the spine of the team, in the key central positions of 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 14 which backbone the side, several of them would probably have the quality to challenge for places on the Leitrim senior county team.

Leitir Mór ‘keeper and former U21 county player Eoin Ó Conghaile proved his worth with crucial match-winning saves throughout the latter stages of their championship campaign and will be an important player again on Sunday. Antaine ‘Toto’ Ó Gríofa, who made his Galway senior debut against New York in the FBD final in the US two weeks ago, is a trojan workhorse at centrefield and epitomises the heart and work-rate of the entire Leitir Mór squad.

The two Breathnachs, Fiachra and Ferdia, are of course the main targets up front at centre and full-forward respectively and their performances will have a major bearing on Sunday’s outcome, although both will be hoping to make more of an impact on the scoreboard and not just in general

Leitir Mór may not have as big reputations throughout Galway but the likes of midfielder Cristóir Ó Flatharta, backs Coilín Ó Hogáin, Seosamh Seoighe, Padraic Mac An Ríogh, Tómas Ó Gríofa and Michéal Pól Ó Ceallaigh, and forwards Eoin Ó Loinsigh and Daithi MacDonnachadha are all solid club players who can shine on the big day.

“We probably are favourites but the only reason we are favourites is because we are a Galway team playing a Leitrim team. We don’t know much about them but we’ll just concentrate on our own ability and what we can do – we won’t worry about them. This is a hugely important game and hopefully we will have big support from all over Connemara,” says Ó Fathartha, who believes the achievements of Moycullen and St Michael’s in winning and losing the All-Ireland final respectively in the last two
series, gives his men a great incentive on Sunday.

Cloone are regarded as one of the clubs with a great footballing pedigree but their achievements are historic (they have won 11 senior county titles but their last one was in 1980) and they have ‘gone off
the boil’ in the past two decades.

Significantly, Cloone are managed by former Leitrim county star Gerry Flanagan,who won a Connacht title with his county in 1994, who brings energy and experience and they also have two senior county players in Donal Brennan and Damien O’Donnell who have been in and out of the Leitrim set-up. Others to watch out for are John McCaffery, a solid corner-back, Mark Beirne, a workhorse at midfield, and dangerman Mark Cregan upfront.

The South Leitrim club will have plenty of support at Pearse Stadium – the word is scores of supporters are travelling to Salthill and making a weekend of it – and they won’t be found wanting in the work-rate and pride departments but Leitir Mór aren’t lacking there either and should have too much quality to bow out at this stage.

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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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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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