Friday, September 9, 2016

Update 9th September

Roscommon GAA,  ‘Here We Go again’
 It seems that Roscommon GAA makes the headlines regularly. From time to time it is for very positive reasons. We saw that last spring with a number of exciting wins especially those against Kerry, Cork and Donegal. We were flavour of the spring then, enjoyed it and bathed in the reflected satisfaction of being spoken of so positively, nationally.

However the summer championship campaign knocked that back and this week we see Roscommon GAA in the news with resignations from the management team. In ordinary circumstances this might not be unusual as team managements change on a regular basis. However this is happening after just one year of a three year term and after a universal welcome for the joint management team established then.
‘Joint management’ teams are rare, a bit like arranged marriages, and  there is always the danger that they might fracture but this could not be seen this time last year when everybody that I am aware of applauded the arrangement arrived at. Another issue may be when things do not go as expected that  the number of personnel from one club might give critics a target for their criticism. I suppose, in hindsight, that might have been a consideration. It just shows you how perception impinges and to use a modern term for this, ‘optics’, is an important consideration.

Anyway the story emerging is hugely disappointing with the people effected being held in such high regard and having given such service to Roscommon football down the years at a multitude of levels.
If this had happened in an amicable way it would be very disappointing but respected. However in the statement issued by Fergal, David and Stephen there is the following disquieting sentence; “Recently, a concerted effort has been made (outside of management and players) to undermine and disparage us and it is especially disappointing and damaging that those involved purport to be concerned about the promotion of GAA within the county”.
I suppose if there are people who want change at any cost they will orchestrate that by whatever means but the more moderate voices must bring a cost- benefit analysis to bear. The die is cast now though and it is a pity that it has happened.

At a meeting of the County Executive Wednesday night it was decided to adopt the procedure of inviting an open application for the position of county senior team management. I believe that is appropriate as one must look at all the angles in the process ‘once bitten twice shy’ and all that.
 It is likely, but not certain of course, that the second member of the dual management  team Kevin McStay will be to the forefront of those who will be there for consideration.
When one considers the team panel, while we have a lot of good, if a bit similar, young players there are significant positional deficits. Also expectation amongst Roscommon supporters is often unreal. In fairness the results in that phase of the league inflated this and then sudden deflation. But then as I say from time to time, I would have no idea as to the inner happenings that has caused this current dilemma. Hopefully it will be resolved and that time will heal whatever damage may be have done.    

Outstanding Radio Programme
I have not always been a fan of Ray D’Arcy’s radio style but on Wednesday I happened to be on a reasonably long car journey and tuned into his show from 3 pm. It dealt with mental health issues and there were several speakers including a number of mothers whose young sons had died by suicide. The first lady gave a hugely impressive, lengthy and emotional account of her experience of her son’s life and death. There may be a number of readers who will have heard some part of the programme. I imagine there will be considerable comment wherever in coming weeks and maybe it will be repeated. You can listen to it on- line though I have limited expertise in that area. Indeed the advertising of radio programming seems to me pretty restricted if you are not an avid listener. A segment of the programme could feature on Marian Richardson’s ‘Playback’ on Saturday morning from 9 to 10am.   

Apple and the 13 Billion
Irrespective of the macro- economic details of the Apple 13 Billion tax bill that the Irish Government are forgoing the simple perception is going to be very negative for a fragile government and a stick which will be used to beat them in several ways by the stressed and stretched public at this time.

The Flight of the Bumble Bee
I accidentally killed a Bumble Bee recently and was disappointed with myself. I have seen so few bees this summer that to be responsible for the demise of one of that few was an extra wrench. Another group I have seen little of lately are butterflies. I just ‘clicked into’ butterflies there now and have been reassured that they are pretty common if not in my surroundings. What a beautiful insect they are from the common ‘Painted Lady’ to the ‘Red Admiral’. Apparently nettles are a positive environment for them so my well disguised back garden which has got somewhat out of my control recently should be a natural eco-system home for butterflies and much more next spring.  That’s part of my excuse anyway!

Boyle v St. Faith leach’s in Senior Quarter Final Sunday next 3.45 @ Kilglass.
While I have missed a couple of games recently I was delighted, even privileged, to be in Ballintubber a couple of weeks ago to see Boyle Seniors give an outstanding display in their victory over reigning county champions Clann na nGael.        
With the previous championship win over Roscommon Gaels they go down they were the best pair of performances at senior level in my time in Boyle and perhaps before that.  Michael O’Brien’s report headline reflected the quality of the performance. It went ‘Boyle’s brilliance crushes reigning champs’. The final score was Boyle 4. 13 Clann na nGael 2.14 with the half time score Boyle 1.9 Clann 0.7. Tellingly and imaginatively Michael gave his ‘Man of the Match’ award to ‘The (Boyle) Team’ there were so many contenders for that accolade that he fittingly gave it as a  collective. The Boyle team: T. Lowe/G. Gilmartin/ Ml. Hanmore/ C. Beirne/ D. East/ S. Purcell/ T. McKenna/ K. Cox/ R. Hanmore/ Killian Cox/ E. Smith/ D. O’Connor/ C. McKeon/ J. Suffin/ D. Callaghan/ with M. O’Donohoe and T. McGarty/ M. O’Connor/ B. Kerins/ C. Goldrick/ C. Tivnan/ T. Halligan/ C. Deery/ C. Lavin/ C. Horan/ K. Kelly.
(On enquiring why Sean Purell was wearing no. 26 I was told that jersey number 6 has been ‘lost/borrowed and similarly with number 14. So if found could they be returned……please.)    

On next Sunday they meet a talented St. Faithleach’s team powered by the Murtagh brothers. 

The Beauty of Dubrovnik in Croatia

I was lucky to be able to spend last week in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. One of the real joys is on waking very early  peering by the curtain and seeing the beautiful bay bathed in sunshine. It was so much easier to approach the day’s endeavours with optimism and energy. The city of Dubrovnik is divided between the Old and the New town. The Old Town is enclosed by an impressive wall and the new town expands out from there but is contained by the surrounding heights. We were part of a group of near fifty and our trip was operated by the Travel Department Travel Company with which we have gone a number of times previously. There are a number of advantages to this in terms of organising and being part of a group where you will always meet good travel companions, as we did again.
The Old City may not have the ‘wow’ factor of the great Italian destinations but the beauty of its location compensates for that. The city suffered considerable during the Balkan War of the 1990s’ at the conclusion of which the people immediately set about restoration because its’ one industry was/is tourism. It gets very crowded and is very hot during high summer but in early September these are lessened.
One of our first ‘tours’ was a visit to the ‘Old Town’ as we stayed a few miles outside which was serviced by a very efficient bus service. There are a number of wide streets and a maze of interconnecting narrow laneways. So that these do not get impassable there is a system of listing what each street has at the entrance. It is a city of restaurants. How so many can survive is a question but they obviously do and do so in interiors and along the street exteriors. While there are people who encourage you to eat in their restaurant they do so in such a polite way as opposed to an aggressive manner in other countries.
Apart from soaking up the charm of the city the obvious box to tick is a walk on the walls from where you get an overview of the city. This can take a slow one and a half hours and is best done during the cooler times of the morning or evening. Another ‘overview’ is from the cable car which runs from the ‘Old City’ to the prominence above the city. If this is not the main course then it is the dessert of sightseeing in Dubrovnik and can be done to spectacular effect in the darkness of early night.
We did a number of trips out of Dubrovnik. The first trip was by boat to a number of the Elaphite Islands which straddle the coastline. A second trip brought us across borders to Montenegro to Kotor another walled city. A feature of these coastal cities is the presence of the great cruise ships which in Kotor came get right into the heart of the city. On the way there our group visited Our Lady of the Rocks Church on an island in Boka Bay.
On Saturday a couple of possible single day tours were melted into one with the result that we crossed a number of borders again before arriving for a short visit in Medugorja which is in Bosnia. It was a beautiful day and not terribly crowded. It has the feel of an exaggerated Knock and was very commercialised. A couple of us made tracks to see the actual ‘Apparition Hill’ which we did from a distance. A number of people stayed in Međugorje while the rest of us headed on thirty miles longer to the City of Mostar and its famous rebuilt bridge. This is a city bearing the massive scars, damage and restrictions of the 1990s’ wars.  Indeed history is an unwinding spool here. Bosnia has three Presidents to facilitate the three ethnic groups within its borders and its flag is also designed to represent this.
The penultimate day it was spent ticking a few more boxes such as walk on the walls and visiting the town at dusk.
On Monday it was back to a sunny and warm Dublin as it happened. There is plenty to muse over from a memorable trip to a region where east meets west and history and ethnic harmony is a fragile flower.
(If anyone was planning to visit Dubrovnik and wanted to get a few pointers on same they are welcome to give me a call.) 

The Paralympics
I really enjoyed the ‘able bodied’ Olympics and watched a lot of it. Now I am tuning into the Paralympics. Today Friday shortly after 3 o’clock a great Irish athlete, from Derry, referred to as the Usain Bolt of Paralympics, is in the final of the 100 metres. He has gold in the 100 and 200m at both the Beijing and London Paralympics but on this occasion has chosen jut the 100m. His name is Jason Smyth. He holds the world record of 10.46 and just narrowly missed out on the qualifying time for the ‘able bodied’ Olympics. His disability is in very restricted eyesight.
Orla Comerford qualified for the 1500m final last night and Michael McKillop is triple gold medal winner previously. There are 48 members in the team and they cover a range of disciplines. They deserve our attention, support and respect.  

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