Sunday, June 23, 2019

Update 23rd June

Notice Board; 1. I wished all involved in the Eastern Harps Club a great day on Saturday as they officially open their fine new dressing rooms. It is a fine building and a credit to the community and those involved. It puts in place a great facility for future generations of Eastern Harps GAA and also the community in the region. I have great memories of many of those Eastern Harps lads especially the Ballinafad and suburbs contingent!

2. This week-end there is a big calendar of GAA fixtures with at least 7 Round 2 games including  Down v Mayo/ Leitrim v Clare and so on. Then there were the three provincial finals Cork v Kerry on Saturday evening and Dublin v Meath & the pick of the bunch Donegal v Cavan on Sunday. While I think Donegal will win this one as they are playing fine football I would like to see Cavan, that old lion, rise from its slumber. Roscommon will play the loser of the Ulster Final after they play one of the round two winners from this week-end. The top teams there include Mayo. Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan. We know that we will be playing the winners of the Leinster final between Meath and Dublin. Roscommon play their first Super 8 game at home which is good on the 13/14 of July.

3. It may seem odd but if you are a sports nerd then the Ladies Soccer World Cup is well worthwhile tuning into. It is now down to the knock-out stages in France. I’ve watched snatches of games such as Brazil v Australia and Brazil v Italy and they are really great games. There are now about 12 teams or so in contention with the U.S. being the favourites but not by much. Germany, Australia, France, England, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Cameroon and Nigeria are amongst the other teams. There are certain to be dramatic games with VAR (Video Assistant Referee) being centre stage. It seems obvious that this World Cup which will be viewed by millions will contribute to the expansion of the game for ladies. (Not many years ago there was a pretty limited range of sports for ladies in this town but now there is Gaelic football, camogie, soccer, athletics, community games, golf, tennis and so on which is great to see. Praise too for all those who make this happen). 
4. Congratulations to all the recent writing award winners a number of whom are regulars in that art including John Mulligan. But I’d like to mention also Shane Tivnan also from Boyle but domiciled for quite a while now in Clann na nGael country and a great follower of Roscommon football.
5. it was floating around last week that Roscommon’s last time to beat Mayo and Galway in the Connacht Championship in the same year was 1972. That is not the case as they defeated Mayo and Galway in ‘77/’78/ ‘79/ ’80 and 2001.

6. Boyle GAA club are in the process of selling their Club Rossie €100 tickets. Club Rossie is a major fund-raiser for Roscommon GAA activity and each year clubs are asked to sell a specified number of €100 tickets which isn’t too easy. So if you are willing to assist get in touch.     
                                                                                                                       The Recent ‘Spell’ of Sport (It is all sport this week!)

Connacht Final Drama in the Rain

I am a ‘little’ reassured by the suggestion of the writer Camus that most of what he ever learned about life came from being involved in sport. While I am not, I should be a pretty learned man now if that mantra held for everyone. On Sunday last it rained, took time out and then rained again but though many people got saturated it did not take from the joie de vivre for Roscommon supporters. The game is framed by the previous game that being  another rainy night in Castlebar which set the standard for last Sunday. The build-up is part and parcel of these championship games. It even revives memories of games in Tuam and Castlebar and the old St. Coman’s Park in Roscommon town of my youth. Every time I pass St. Coman’s Park on my way ‘home’ to Castlecoote I look fondly and sadly now at the remains of St. Coman’s Park. That was my boyhood Croke Park. Then came actual visits to Croke Park from ’61 onwards to see our heroes Gerry O’Malley, John Oliver Moran, Eamon Curley, Michéal Shivnan, Aidan Brady, Des Dockery and so on. They lost to a great Offaly team in ’61 but returned to defeat old forties adversaries Cavan in the ’62 Semi-Final. We hoped for a return to the glory days of the forties but defeat was again our lot to the great Mick O’Connell and Kerry. A real bright day in the ‘60s was a great game and victory of the Roscommon U 21 team of 1966 against a fine Kildare team. There were many stars in that team including a young Dermot Earley and Boyle connections in Pat Clarke and Pat Nicholson, Ray Sheeran and John Kelly. The seventies produced the great years from ’77 to ’80 when going to Croke Park for big games was routine. That ended on another rainy day when we went down narrowly to another ‘great’ Kerry team by a narrow margin. Roscommon had one of its greatest teams those days and ‘what might have been’ is a regular ache when we revisit those times. Roscommon have regularly been down but like the ageing boxer they have gotten to their feet as regularly. And each May or so we dust down the disappointment of the previous year and head for Carrick –on –Shannon,  Castlebar
Salthill, Sligo or Hyde Park for renewal of our vows and see where it takes us this year. So we arrived at Salthill on Sunday last. It began with an early start from home knowing well the traffic issues in Galway city and Salthill itself. For us it was good as we had ‘friends’ living within minutes of Pearse Stadium. First there was a visit to the Roscommon supporters base on these occasions in the Galway Bay Hotel. All the familiar faces seemed to be present and correct and ‘will we?’, ‘what do you think?” and varied unanswerable questions peppered small talk. It was a moving screen of familiar faces and me struggling for names for those familiar faces. Eventually game time and the ten minute walk to  the park. It was sunny and warm then. Would it hold? Getting a seat in the stand seemed to offer cover. The first half began well but the last ten minutes turned as the rain came down and my rain gear proved lamentable. The stand roof did not extend to my row! Galway were cruising in those last minutes and kicking points with ease. Roscommon supporters were downcast and it was hard to hope.  I left immediately at half time and went to my house abode to dry out and get reorganised. Back to the battlefield and things on the pitch took a turn for the better. A goal by Diarmuid Murtagh proved a turning point and from that there was no looking back as Cormac Cox, Enda, Nialls Daly and Kilroy saw us home. The Roscommon support re-enacted their Braveheart pitch invasion of 2017 on ‘take two’ and all was well with the world. The wet clothes seemed to dry in jig time and the traffic had so many polite drivers waving you out that it was all courtesy and consideration. The Monday papers were hugely complimentary. Eamon Sweeney in fine form “Roscommon looked like they were having the time of their lives……You could have run the national grid off Roscommon’s energy and enthusiasm. Galway’s wouldn’t have lit a match” followed later by “ At the end the Rossies stormed the pitch with the unity of purpose in a county small enough for most of the inhabitants to know each other. And Anthony Cunningham has entered his house justified.” Dick han's Dick Clerkin in Monday’s Indo also; “Roscommon have been the story of the 2019 Championship so far and are fast becoming everyone’s favourite second team”.    Michael Clifford in the Irish Daily Mail referenced Conor Cox’s “logic- defying score in the first half”. Willie Hegarty in commentary casting his net wide as usual to Rockall “ The catch of the year has been Cormac Cox”. I could add on a free transfer as well. Others talked of the three Daly brothers who I see as fine individually but a real ‘force’ together. The ‘back row’ of Roscommon right now.
Looking at the panel of 26 listed in the programme it breaks down as follow: Michael Glavey’s 6/Pearse’s 5/ Boyle 3/ Strokestown and Fuerty 2 each/ Tulsk, Elphin, Kilbride, Western Gaels, Fáiles, St. Brigid’s, Clann na nGael  and Listowel 1 each. There is material there for discussion.  
It is fair to say that Roscommon GAA is in a pretty good place right now and a rising tide is said to raise all boats.               

                                                                                                                                           Feile Returns to Boyle
On the week-end of Friday June the 28th Gaultier nicknamed 'The Barony'  from near Dunmore East in County Waterford will be the guests of Boyle GAA Club for Feile 20019. Feile is a national under-age Gaelic football  festival for boys and girls. There is also a hurling Féile. The football carnival takes place in 200 venues in this North –West Connacht region with 350 teams from all over the country and from the U.K. and the U.S.  which will involve 850 games. With these statistics it must be one of the biggest such sporting events anywhere. The games begin in Boyle on Friday evening. Boyle have participated in recent years in Féile in Cork and Down and were very active hosts to the Derry champions in 2007. Boyle’s Pat Goldrick was one of the top regional organisers on that occasion. Hopefully the whole community will join with the GAA community in welcoming visiting teams especially our guests from Waterford. It is a great and memorable occasion for those who actually travel to what would be, for say the Waterford young people, a pretty distant location. So we certainly want them to be made very welcome. Indeed they come when Roscommon football is grabbing a lot of national attention just now for all the right reasons. As Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin said in Monday’s Independent “Roscommon are fast becoming nearly everyone’s favourite second county team”.  So our fine sports facility will be a hive of activity from Friday the 28th so drop into the park and get into the mood of the occasion. The four teams in the Abbey Park are Gaultier, Boyle, Western Gaels and Whitehall Colmcille’s. The games on Friday evening start at 4.45 with Boyle v Whitehall Colmcille’s followed by Western Gaels v Gaultier. Then Boyle v Western Gaels and Gaultier v Colmcilles. The final group games take place early on Saturday am.   I’m looking forward to it all. Oh yes there will be a number of park preparation Meithéals starting at 10 am on tomorrow Saturday.   

                                                                                                                                             The Nestor Cup Visits the Abbey Park
I mentioned a hive of activity next week-end but that happens there regularly as it did yesterday evening Thursday when the Connacht Nestor Cup was taken to the grounds. This especially enabled people to bring their young family members to see what it was all about.  There was a great ‘buzz’ about for over the hour and I must commend the Boyle members of the county panel, Donie Smith, Evan McGrath, Cian McKeon and team captain Enda Smith for their participation. As Club Chairperson Kathleen Hanmore related ‘They are back where it all started and where their skills were nurtured and developed”. She continued to say how proud the club is of them and this sentiment was echoed by all present. Following a county team in victory is sweet but following a county team with members from your own club is all the sweeter. I feel that they know that and last evening was followed today Friday by visiting local schools. Club President Barry Feely also commended the team and the Boyle players contribution to a fine victory. The lads signed innumerable autographs on scraps of paper and jerseys. Indeed it was a lake of primrose and blue. While Enda and Donie are probably veterans at the autographing business I observed a shyness in the approach of Cian McKeon. While many veteran former players and GAA officials and supporters were also present it was an evening for the kids. As I was about to leave another veteran Boyle player from the 50s’ arrived on the scene and that was Bill Corcoran. Bill has come from Dublin for Boyle GAA events from time to time and keeps in touch with the happenings of his native Corrigeenroe and Boyle and has been a great supporter of Roscommon through county organisations in Dublin. He was the original Mayor of Boyle in the 50s’ and still carries that title despite Marian Gaffney succeeding him some time ago now. Anyway Bill and his family were delighted to be present and I’m sure it will be discussed when we are in contact again. He was delighted to meet Gerry Nerney, Fergal O’Donnell, Jnr. Smith, Brendan Nestor and Enda Smith of course and various others. Regrettably I forgot to ask him to sign a few autographs. In the unlikely event that you read this, Bill, after I got over the surprise of the kind of apparition of you emerging from the limousine I was delighted to see you there on a special evening. We couldn’t have organised it better. I disagree with the idiom that ‘One should never meet their heroes’. 

Slán for now.    

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