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United are down but not out



Date Published: 10-Nov-2009

IN the end, the result didn’t matter. Another League of Ireland season is overshadowed by controversy, the ’09 version ending in farcical circumstances with Derry City being kicked out of the League on Saturday afternoon for irregularities surrounding player contracts.

Galway United’s draw with Cork City on Friday night, coupled with wins for Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, means they should be preparing for a play-off game with Drogheda United in Terryland Park tonight, but events Foyleside mean United have been spared that fate, with Drogheda now hosting previously relegated Bray Wanderers in the play-off.

United had their biggest crowd of the season on Friday night with 1,862 punters paying at the turnstile, and they were treated to an exciting game which, while showing up United’s frailties, also showed their tremendous battling spirit.

Twice the home side fell behind against a Cork City side chasing third place and the Europa League spot that came with it, but twice they pulled level, and they could have won the game only for visiting ‘keeper Mark McNulty denying Aaron Greene with a flying save 15 minutes from the end.

Foster was forced into a major reshuffle of his side, with suspension robbing him of the services of centre-backs Shane Guthrie and Garry Breen, Sean Kelly and Seamus Conneely forming an emergency partnership at the back.

United again set up in the diamond formation which Foster has favoured over the last few weeks, with Derek O’Brien playing at the tip, but it was the visitors who were the most threatening in attack, and they took the lead in the 11th minute.

Fahrudin Kuduzovic sent in a deep corner from the left which the unmarked Dan Murray nodded towards the six yard box. Cillian Lordan added to it, but Barry Ryan’s reflexes were up to the task, the United ‘keeper tipping the ball over his crossbar for another corner.

United’s players must have thought the City players had Swine Flu such was the wide berth they gave them when it came to marking, and when Stephen O’Donnell delivered the ball from the opposite corner, Davin O’Neill was left in glorious isolation to head home.

Greg O’Halloran went close to doubling the lead seven minutes later but his effort from the edge of the box didn’t have enough curl on it, and Dave Cooke was on hand to charge down Billy Dennehy’s shot two minutes later, but just when it looked like United would be over-run, they hit back with an equaliser, Vinny Faherty getting on the end of Alan Murphy’s cross from the left to sidefoot home for his fifth of the season.

Parity lasted just four minutes, however, as more slack defending cost United again. This time it was Kuduzovic who was left unattended to meet Lordan’s cross, and he headed the ball goalwards, with Dennehy on hand to force the ball home from close range.

Dennehy almost added a third 10 minutes before the break as City broke from defending a United corner. Kuduzovic won possession and sent O’Neill scampering away down the right. United’s defenders were in lung-bursting mode in their scramble to get back, O’Neill played the ball inside to Dennehy but he now had the company of Paul Sinnott and Iarflaith Davoren, and his rushed shot was well saved by Ryan.

The visitors should have wrapped up the points three minutes after the restart when Murray was again left unmarked from a corner, but he blazed over from six yards.

United had been second best up until then, but the miss stirred them into getting their passing game going, and they began to cause Cork some serious problems.

They should have been awarded a penalty on the hour mark when O’Halloran clearly handled Faherty’s goal-bound shot. Referee Declan Hanney waved play on, and the ball fell to Conneely but the man who scored a screamer against Derry City earlier this season provided a typical defender’s finish, firing well over.

Hanney compounded United’s sense of injustice when booking Faherty for his protests, but the United striker put the matter behind him to grab his second of the game.

His first goal drew him level in the scoring charts with Greene, and by the end of the game those bragging rights were his alone when he finished off a move that was all about half-time substitute and the heartbeat of United, John Russell.

The United captain picked up the ball in the centre circle, rode the challenge of O’Donnell and skipped past O’Halloran and Lordan before picking out Derek O’Brien wide on the right. He whipped a ball into the box, and Faherty came racing in at the near post and provided the most delicate of touches to guide the ball past McNulty.

Greene then came close to a winner when getting on the end of Shane Fitzgerald’s cross, only to be denied by McNulty, but the best save of the night came from Ryan to complete a memorable night for the United ‘keeper. He was named before the match as the Galway United Supporters’ Trust player of the season, and with Chris O’Connor missing for Bray in their game with Bohemians, the Clare native became the only player to play every minute of the campaign, and he capped that achievement with a stunning save to deny O’Donnell eight minutes from time.

On the final whistle the United players ran to unused substitute Jason Molloy, who must have had the info from the other games, and their joy at taking a battling point against Cork turned to disappointment when they heard the results from the Showgrounds and Inchicore. But Saturday’s remarkable scenario was to lift the gloom once more.

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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