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The ‘Bridge and Gort look good for county final



Date Published: {J}


TWO local derbies; two potentially cracking games that should leave the most cursory of hurling followers salivating at the mouth as old traditions and rivalries collide. So, lock up the children. Check the pacemakers. Batten down the hatches. The county championship senior hurling semi-finals are down for decision.

Down to the last four, the 2011 hurling championship – protracted as it may be – has come to life in recent weeks and now an array of possibilities have descended like a gentle Autumn mist. Sure, reigning All-Ireland club champions Clarinbridge firmly remain on course to add back-to-back titles, but the remaining contenders will all feel that they, too, have a genuine chance to rewrite the history books.


The first of Sunday’s fascinating double bill pits 2008 county finalists and five-time senior championship winners, Gort against next door neighbours St. Thomas’ – an emerging side that has featured prominently in underage competitions, particularly minor and U-21, over the last decade or so.

In the other semi-final, another local derby pits reigning champs Clarinbridge against local rivals Craughwell, who are appearing in their first county semi-final since 2006 and just their second since 1932.


At the other end of the spectrum, spare a thought for Castlegar and Kinvara. Having played out a cracking relegation semi-final last weekend, they meet again in Clarinbridge on Saturday morning (11:30am). For the victor comes redemption; for the loser, it’s an unenviable relegation final showdown against a dogged Padraig Pearses.

Gort v St. Thomas’

(Kenny Park, Athenry, 2pm)

With a clean bill of health, Gort manager Mattie Murphy may keep faith in the same starting XV that accounted for Loughrea in the quarter-final – although the contribution of Keith Killilea on his introduction will give Murphy food for thought.

No doubt, that 2-10 to 1-8 victory against the last year’s finalists will have imbued Gort will a greater degree of confidence heading into the penultimate stages, even if an experienced Murphy was keen to dampen expectation.

“There is no easy game from now on. I mean, our first half [against Loughrea] was a bit iffy and if it is as bad the next day we could be in trouble. Our backs were also to the wall in the second half. We were only a point up and it took a big effort to get a result.”

You could argue, however, that Gort have only begun, once again, to fulfil their potential, something the 2008 county finalists did not do when they failed to go beyond the group stage last year. “You know, they were a very young team when they were in that county final [in 2008], but now they are three years older and hopefully three years wiser,” says Murphy.

In any event, Gort now play their near neighbours in a county semi-final. “We know each other inside out at this stage; there are no state secrets between us. We have played them in two county U-21 finals in recent years, so the younger players would know each other very well. At this stage of the championship, though, you have to be up for it no matter who you are playing. But, yes, we are near neighbours and we are fierce rivals as well.”

St. Thomas’ boss John Burke insists Richie Murray – who has been suffering from a leg injury and has only played a limited amount of hurling as a substitute in recent games – is still not match fit to claim to a starting berth, but he remains optimistic.

“Local derbies are unpredictable; anything can happen, especially at this time of year, when a slip or the hop of ball can change a game so drastically,” says Burke. “Also, because the pitch and the weather conditions can be heavy, that can slow ball down, so you have to be prepared to go out and fight for every ball and put your body on the line.”

St. Thomas’ will be buoyed their victory over kingpins Portumna in their quarter-final. “I know Portumna were missing the two boys [Joe Canning and Andy Smith, both suspended], but they still were a well-seasoned team, with good experience, and they gave us a fierce fight.


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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