Boyle GAA AGM Sunday December 4th.
After the Annual AGM on Sunday a number of people met for the traditional post-meeting analysis. A ‘La na gClub’ game from May 2009 was referenced and it was suggested that I post again my account then of that game which I do here now. (I will refer to the AGM and other items that have backed up next week hopefully).
(Wednesday, February 10, 2010)
La na gClub May 10th 2009 …..’Veterans’ V ‘Apprentice Boys’ game in the Abbey Park.
Experience of Veterans key to Historic Victory:
The ‘Veterans’ team, captained with great skill and guile, by Jnr. Smith and coached by the evergreen Sean Young saw off a determined challenge from the ‘Apprentice Boys’ during the ‘Blue Riband’ event at La na gClub. The Veterans employed some novel and effective tactics in pursuit of glory. These included the ‘weighting’ of the left wing by playing two contrasting players in that key strategic position, Kit O’Connor and ‘Lightening’ Michael Gilmartin, a scratch player. The quiet disguising of their players as umpires and linesmen created considerable confusion in the ‘Apprentice’ ranks with Coach Young making a Kamikaze intervention at one stage. Tom Kearney was coolness personified in goals, at one stage taking time batting the ball onto the upright before clearing effectively, always finding a team mate and so initiating those sweeping downfield attacks which became a feature of their play. The cleverness of John McLoughlin, at midfield, in pretending to go for the ball but waving it on to a better placed colleague was most interesting and visually, in a sort of ballet way, disarming. The scoring threat for the 'Veterans' came from the twin tubs (towers) up front Jnr. Smith and Bernard Shannon. Bernard had an intriguing duel with ‘Apprentice’ Conor Tivnan. The score of the game was a cracking Kevin O’Connor goal which sealed victory and this afforded the luxury of a penalty miss for the ‘Veterans’ as the ball boggled on the uneven ground. In an analysis of performances suffice to say that all contributed in their own unique way and as per pre-match coaching etc. Billy Hanmore, greying hair streaming in the wind of his slipstream as he confronted opposition raids, did well, Fergal O’Donnell scored one majestic point, Vinnie Flanagan was a rock at centre back, Pat Goldrick showed he was willing to learn from the tough tackling rugby he has seen recently in Croke Park, Aidan Lavin laid aside the demands of high office when called upon, like Obama going to Burger Queen. This demonstrates that the generals can also be formidable in ‘no man’s land’. Charlie Candon was flawless, towards the end, as referee, and, after the initial resistance, showed willingness to adapt to the advice of the ‘Veteran’ spokesmen on the interpretation of rules, of which there were a few. His initial reliance on rules reminded me of what Dominick Connolly of Fuerty said to me once: "The trouble with some young referees nowadays is that they don't seem to care who wins the game!"
Returning to the game; Stephen Bohan was the subject of some very robust tackling and the tapes are being reviewed to see if any further action will be taken. Paul Beirne and Gerry Cregg basically came from nowhere to create confusion. Paul was suitably attired for the sunshine. Paul Duignan, who cost so much on the transfer market earlier in the year, is adapting nicely and Brendan Tiernan really revels on these big occasions, though both of the latter missed the important team photograph. This may have to be reorganised at one of the functions. The Veterans led from start to finish by four points and their escape to victory was greeted with prolonged celebrations which demonstrated how much it all meant to these experienced players. (Indeed Martin Purcell was seen later proudly wearing the winner’s medal pinned to his lapel a la a GAA President). However the captain, Jnr. Smith and Vice-Captain Kit O’Connor, graciously, did visit the losing dressing room with words of encouragement and advice to the ‘Apprentices’ who were visibly shaken by the result.
A small group met afterwards in 'The Showboat Inn' and an ad hoc committee was formed to organise appropriate recognition for the achievement of the ‘Veterans’. The committee is conscious that some, though not all of the veterans, would not want an extravagant display in these straitened times. There is the possibility that members of the team will be visiting local schools and institutions, in the coming weeks, with the cup. Perhaps something like the 2006 All-Ireland winning minors. There may be a short trip through the town at some appropriate time to the sound of ‘Simply the Best’. Other possibilities include exhibition matches on other high profile days, acting as radio or T.V. analyists. Members will also be available for medal presentation ceremonies and such like (note: on a strict rota basis, as it a full panel effort, ‘one for all and all for one' kind of mantra) and of course they are now bound to be guests of honour at the Annual Dinner Dance. So we look forward to that. I know that people in New York, London and various Australian cities involved in GAA affairs read these notes religiously at mass times, so perhaps panel members might volunteer to do some promotional work, for the expansion of the games, in places like Dubai, Hong Kong, New York or Sydney. If this is a requirement all contacts are to be made through their accompanying liaison officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
T.K Whitaker Centenarian
The hugely important role of T. K. Whitaker in the establishment of a modern Ireland may have receded in recent times but that would be sad. Mister Whitaker has reached the venerable age of 100 today December the 8th. An RTÉ television audience voted TK Whitaker “Irishman of the 20th Century” in 2001 ahead of such major figures as Michael Collins and I presume W.B. Yeats. People who are reading this can access the biographical background of Mister Whitaker for themselves I just give my slant on his role and the times in which he achieved what he did. Senior people today will have clear memories of the post war Ireland. We had avoided the war declaring ourselves ‘neutral’ generally because it was felt by the government of day that an alliance with G.B. then ‘occupying’ 6 counties would lead to potential chaos of opposition. When with the overall realisation of what the Nazi regime perpetuated in the Holocaust and other atrocities the morality of that stance stood starkly bare. Hindsight brings wisdom. Even if the Government of the day had they been more aware of the excesses of Nazism would they adopted a different policy? It is questionable.
The de Valera economic sentiment was that of an insular ‘self-sufficient’ state of ‘cosy homesteads’ protected by tariffs. This had emanated from the 30s’ and the Economic War with Britain involving Land Annuities and trade embargos
After the war most countries were impoverished with the exception of the United States which, despite the huge cost of the war and their decisive part in it, boomed economically for decades..
The U.S. post war helped rebuild Europe by forwarding finance under a scheme called ‘The Marshall Plan’. Ireland though not an ally of the allies got significant aid from this scheme also which was very generous indeed. The U.S. initiative to rebuild Europe was in large part to create a buffer to Communist expansion.
Ireland in the fifties was a bleak place. We may look at it with rose tinted glasses at times but when gauged on all the barometers of social provision we were in a bad place in terms of health, education, employment, industrial development and probably all the other markers. We complain today of some of those issues but we are for the most part a wealthy country with many progressive services.
I’ve wandered around the place here so back to T.K.
Mister Whitaker was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance in 1956 and he established an economic plan for the development of the country. Eamon de Valera eventually stepped down, years late, from being Taoiseach and went to a large house in the Phoenix Park in a symbolic way. The new Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, though nearly withering in the waiting room was a progressive leader and formed a ‘dream team’ with Whitaker. Social programmes such as rural electrification, water schemes and eventually ‘free education’, opportunities for employment rather than the ‘boat’ to Holyhead, led to a new confidence emerging. While the EEC, especially Charles de Gaulle, resisted the inclusion of GB and by association Ireland, this was finally overcome when they both with Denmark joined the EEC in 1973. The sixties was a very good, bright, energetic, decade to be involved in and I enjoyed its many variations. All this was against the backdrop of the grey, bleak heart-breaking fifties.
The seventies are less memorable with strikes, inflation, depression and of course the terrible war in Northern Ireland. This continued until the mid-90s’ when the first stirrings of the ‘boom’ began.
I have said before that a small country like ours should be able to sort out the issues that obtain in a better and in more socially just way. It appears as if we have not got the guile or generosity of spirit to achieve that and the roller coaster will continue. Is there no TK Whitaker for our age?
I’d like to endorse the tribute paid by John Mulligan to Connie Fallon in his piece in this week’s Roscommon Herald. Connie was a community worker and an advocate for social equality. She contributed generously with her time, effort and talents to her adopted town. This was recognised in a small way when a number of people gathered at the Community Information office in Elphin Street a short while ago to pay tribute to Connie and have a plaque symbol to remember her by, placed in the office. Connie was a founding member of the Community Information Centre in Boyle. In a very democratic and informal way anyone who wished to say a few words were welcome to do so. Present also were her husband Jack and son Oliver. It was one of those understated but heartfelt events laced with sincerity and respect for a generous woman. A tangible tribute that people could pay Connie and her colleagues is to use the Community Information Service when expertise or advice is needed in this world of forms and disguised entitlements. As John Mulligan alluded to ‘knowledge is power’ in getting those entitlements.
Saint Vincent de Paul Collection This Weekend
Having referred to one group who help with information the activists in St. Vincent de Paul also contribute hugely to those in real need. They do this in a quiet most confidential way and their efforts are to applauded. Ireland is a great ‘community’ country. I do not know if there are other countries in which community groups contribute so much to the general well-being of society. This week-end we have a chance to contribute to St. Vincent de Paul and in the spirit of Christmas I am confident that many will.
I had a couple of very positive communications from Matthew Scott recently. Mattie as he may be known to many of you has been resident in England for quite a while now but also spends a lot of time in sunny Portugal. So keep chipping away at the golf handicap Mattie.
Roscommon People and William Trevor
I see that Paul Healy, Editor of the Roscommon People, tapped into some information on William Trevor’s North Roscommon connections, in this blog, for last week’s People edition. Paul is a reader of William Trevor but wasn’t fully aware of the strong connections he had with Roscommon. Paul was also complimentary of the blog which is nice coming from a member of the ‘fourth estate’. My attitude to information, especially local knowledge, is that I like to share it as there is no dividend in not doing so. I am a big supporter of the people with local knowledge and we are blessed with having quite a number of them in the county to call on when searching for information on a variety of topics. While many of these are pretty well known one occasionally comes across a person who has a store of knowledge on a particular topic as I did recently with John McLoughlin when looking for a headstone in Assylinn old graveyard. I will return to this topic anon.