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Yet another one gets away from Connacht against bogey rivals

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Date Published: 28-Mar-2012

Connacht 16

Munster 20

Rob Murphy at the Sportsground

MUNSTER once again. The aura that surrounds that red jersey carries weight and stature in every European outpost and Connacht is no different.

For 55 minutes, however, the Sportsground faithful dared to believe that a new script was about to be written. At that point, Connacht had a scrum in the Munster 22, most of the 7,022 crowd sensed a pivotal score in the offing and held their breath.

Munster’s stature all of a sudden seemed irrelevant a the men in red looked disjointed and ruffled. Time to pounce. Lines were fluffed, however, simple as that.

Connacht took a scrum from a penalty when other options may have been better but got the ball back anyway only to cough up a second turnover. It was 18th hole at a major type stuff, a two score lead at that juncture could have killed the tie. Munster visibly grew a couple of inches in the face of their opponent’s frailties.

It was by no means an overall failure from a Connacht side that toiled and battled and created some hair-raising moments for a home crowd that were both supportive and appreciative of the challenge.

The loyalty and patience of this rapidly growing home following is one of the hallmarks of this season and must give the powers-that-be great hope for the future. They’re here to stay and will suffer these evenings in the hope of better days ahead.

Before recounting events in more detail, let’s look at one statistic that might explain why Connacht looked more potent in attack, especially in the first-half. Henry Fa’afili is by no means a key man in many people’s eyes but consider this – in his 12 starts at inside centre this season, he has been involved in all six games where Connacht didn’t lose, five wins, one draw and six defeats is his record.

It makes you think. In his 12 starts, the hard running Samoan with a fairly high level of handling skills, has seen his side accumulate 22 of their 25 Rabo Direct league points not to mention their sole and hugely uplifting Heineken Cup triumph, and it’s not as if Dave McSharry has stood out as a problem in the other games either.

 

It may well be down quite simply to his ability to offload in the tackle. Throughout the first-half on Saturday, Connacht looked more potent in attack than at points earlier in the season. Fa’afili’s back-door pass to Ethienne Reynecke almost led to a try and minutes later, a super Connacht maul had secured that first score gtom their hooker with Mick O’Driscoll in the bin.

The gap was four at half-time 10-6. Miah Nikora’s boot has accounted for the rest of Connacht’s scores, while former College Road favourite Ian Keatley had kicked two penalties for Munster. A late first-half surge should have yielded a second try for the home side but a mix up between Frank Murphy and Gavin Duffy at the base proved costly.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

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.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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