Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sports Carnival 

The last two weekends of sport have been a lift for the soul. In reverse order. I was very impressed with the tenacity of Cavan in the Ulster Final. It really was a win hewn from doggedness, true grit and a Breffni pride. That pride in the royal blue goes back a century to when Cavan were kings of Ulster and won something like 30 Ulster titles in the forty years between the 1920s to the 1960s’.  

In discussion with a friend P. D. after the game, he impressed on me the mentality that Cavan would have no fear of Donegal. That would not be in their d.n.a. Cavan were something like 14 to 1 which was extravagant in a two-horse race. But Donegal had shown in earlier games a pedigree and were total favourites including with myself in that. They were seen as the last remaining challenge to Dublin. Now Dublin faces Cavan. I fear for Cavan repeating my opinion from the Donegal game. Still they have won their first Ulster title since 1997 and that has made it a good year for them and rekindled the spirit of a Cavan GAA which we thought was at a low ebb. Dublin beware! (Typical of Cavan to win an Ulster title the year the pubs were closed!)

The result of not just the weekend but for many a day was the victory of Tipperary in the Munster championship their first win since 1937. I have a couple of friends who have spent decades keeping football alive in Tipp. And last Sunday was the result that they got pay-back for all their efforts and faith that they would have a day like that. Of course, when Cork defeated a complacent Kerry it really opened up that side of the draw. Cork has produced great football teams down the decades and are fifth in the ranking of most All-Ireland’s with 6 including two in a row in ’89 and ’90. Still, for a county of its size, it has not achieved what it might have. Kerry has had a real influence in that of course. 

It is suggested that in Tipp. There is little heed on ‘the football’ and they are looked down on by the hurling fraternity. Last Sunday happened as a result of a lot of effort, from a small group of people, who helped bring minor and under-21 successes to their county teams. They have, as we saw on Sunday, many fine players with Sweeney and Quinlivan and Ozzie Rules player being as good as are in any county. They can give Mayo a real challenge in a couple of weeks’ time. 

Still, their win was all about history, the rise of the underdog, historical coincidence alignment and joy. It took place a calendar day later than the Bloody Sunday shootings by British forces of 14 people in Croke Park in 1920. This included a man named Michael Hogan who is commemorated with the name of the iconic Hogan Stand in the grounds now. That game on bloody Sunday was not an All-Ireland or anything like it but a challenge game between Dublin and Tipp. Also, Mick Hogan was not the captain of the Tipp. team. In the film ‘The Big Fellow’ with Michael Collins the central character played by Liam Neeson a few of these errors has perpetuated a number of ‘small’ errors.

I wonder will Tipp. retain the green and white jerseys for the semi-final. I suggest they should. Tipp. have won All-Ireland senior championships in 1889/1895/1900/and the 1920 All-Ireland played in 1922. 

It is something that a hundred years on from 1920 that the four provincial winners are the same this year as then. 

That was Sunday.

On Saturday I was pleased to see Galway win v Tipp. in the hurling semi-final. They had let slip the Leinster final v Kilkenny a week earlier but got over the line here. While there are many very good players on the Galway team it is always a special joy to see Joe Canning play, score frees and especially the side-line cuts over the bar which he has made his trademark shot.  

It was great to see another nearly county continue to emerge as a force that being Waterford who defeated Clare comfortably enough. So the hurling semi-finals are Galway v Limerick and Kilkenny v Waterford.

Limerick look like a crack team so this from this remove should be a really great game. Waterford take on Kilkenny. Waterford has been impressive this season but they have a sad history against Kilkenny. However, this Kilkenny side is not nearly on a par with those of the recent past. It took some moments of magic from Richie Hogan to turn the tide against Galway. His intervention tells as the saying goes; ‘form is temporary class is permanent’. 

The following weekend (Sat/Sun the 5th/6th) the football semi-finals Cavan v Dublin and Tipp. v Mayo. Then on Sunday 13th the All-Ireland Hurling final and the football final on the 20th. The GAA schedule keeps giving. 

John Clarke R.I.P.

I was saddened to hear of the death of John Clarke recently. He died in England. He was husband of Marie Grehan of the Grehan Sisters who were part of the folk scene starting in the late sixties. John and Marie and family lived in the North West of England for a good part of their lives with John and Marie returning to Ireland around twenty years ago. They then went to live in Leitrim. I met John a good few times over the years, usually at music sessions in recent times in Dodd’s Bar. I extend my condolences to the Grehan family. He was a really interesting and kind soul. May he rest in peace. 

Imelda Marcos Disturbing Sky Documentary:

This was, for me, a disturbing programme and I am only referring to it to suggest that you watch it if you ever get the chance.  Imelda Marcos was the wife of Ferdinand Emmanuel Marcos who was dictator of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. Imelda had a major influence on her husband and the regime as it developed in the Philippines. After 30 years the Marcos dynasty was eventually deposed and they were exiled to Hawaii. While Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 his wife never abandoned the possibility of returning to the country and having a member of the family, their one son Bongbong becoming leader again. While these are the machinations of many such dictator families the persona of Imelda Marcos was a much more exaggerated and disturbing one. She had the self -confidence, sense of entitlement and twisted vision that made her feel that she had an almost divine right to be ‘mother of her nation’. A number of people may remember her fetish for collecting exotic shoes and we saw a very large room with a huge range of such shoes. Also the family engaged in the acquisition of great wealth from various state streams. 

The family were collectors of the best in art and such and gold leaf decorated much of the palatial residences. 

Foreign property in such cities as New York was also a target of her greed.

From time to time while travelling by car she brought with her large amounts of paper money to give to the impoverished at traffic light stops so as to endow her reputation.

The family, after a Safari in Africa, decided to establish its own African animal free-ranging park and cleared an island of its inhabitants to facilitate this. 

She met all the dignitaries and top echelons of their day from U.S. Presidents to the Queen of England.  

After the death of Ferdinand Marcos in ’89 his body was embalmed and kept in a glass coffin on exhibition. She was waiting until her husband got to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery of the Philippines which it did in 2016. 

The present President of the Philippines is Rodrigo Duterte. He rules with cruelty and ruthlessness. His edict to police in how to treat people with Corona virus is to shoot them as they have been doing to drug addicts and drug pushers for some time.  

Imelda Marcos was 91 last July. The documentary was titled, I think, as ‘The Kingmaker’. If she thought, it was going to be a flattering depiction of the ‘Mother of a Nation’ then she should reassess that. She came across as an evil montage of all that personifies these deluded and ruthless personalities.  

Thanksgiving Holiday in U.S. 

This is one of the biggest holidays in the U.S.A. and its tradition goes back two centuries and more. After some flexibility as to the date it was finally fixed as the last Thursday of November this year being the 26th. Apparently it is a time where many people take to the air and go visiting extended family in other parts of the country. This year with Covid it presents a real dilemma in terms of Covid 19 spread. Despite the threat some millions of people are still on the move. This will have its consequences of course with a possible surge superimposing itself on the present surge. So we will see what transpires.

The U.S. is a pretty divided country right now where the election results have been contested and claims of irregularities and fraud have been, as a teaching colleague of mine (F.T.) used say; “Thrown around like snuff at a wake”.

The rule by tweet and the behaviour of the present White House incumbent Donald Trump is pretty depressing. After the initial results showed Joe Biden as winning Trump made a brief and pretty pathetic address to the press. Since then he has only been seen on the golf course. As Rome burned back in Roman times the emperor Nero is said to have ‘fiddled’. As the Covid 19 pandemic surges the U.S. emperor plays golf.  Unbelievable. Then there are the ongoing legal challenges against accepting the results as they exist. This is a course that is open to the defeated candidate but demanding a third count in Georgia seems to pushing the boundaries. But these challenges have been tossed out of numerous courts of appeal. This legal team is led by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Now, if my memory serves me right, he was a highly regarded Mayor of New York and thought of as someone who could have had a big political future. But the sheen is gone. Two bizarre press appearances have cemented that. The first one was “slated” (!) to have taken place in a major hotel ‘The Four Seasons” but it ended up in the car park of ‘The Four Seasons’ Garden Centre’ and for more seasoning it was in front of a premises which had some sexual connotations. 

Press Conference two of this crack legal team fronted in what must have been a high temperature zone. During his presentation people began to focus not on what Rudy was saying but on the sweat running down his face. Sweat running down a person’s face can in some instances be seen as a positive thing but when it colours brown it is a real distraction. The color change, it is suggested, was caused by some make-up dye not holding its ground. Slippage, wind farm constructors might call it. 

Now while that was unfortunate (for Rudy!) the press conference was further compromised by a Lawyer embedding her presence into the ‘crack’ legal team. Her name is/was Sidney Powell. She must have strayed onto the stage from a remake of the classic film ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. It was only revealed some time after the press conference that she was not part of the ‘crack’ team. It was as if some Twink decided to crash the Tony Holohan nightly briefing on television here. I imagine that Tony, being Tony, would not put her out front!

The big question is Quo Vadis Trump? Will he continue in denial, sulking? Possibly. Will he turn up at the Joe Biden inauguration in January?  Maybe he’ll turn up, in a golf buggy. Will he begin a 2024 election campaign almost immediately? He could certainly be a distracting presence in the long grass of the side-lines. One has to keep in mind that he did get an incredible vote of over 70 million people in an amazing national poll of near 150 million. This suggests that Joe Biden has a really challenging mandate to try and reach out to that constituency. No easy task.   

There is a Buddhist proverb that goes “Something given at first asking is twice given”. So the longer Trump stays removed from concession the more damage he does to himself.  

While I jest and exaggerate a little (as Rudy said about voting irregularities) it is really, really, serious and Georgia is set to become a real battleground state for the two outstanding Senate seats in the upcoming January election. How that happened I do not know as of now. At present, the Republican party have 50 seats and the Democrats 48 with just the two to be decided. Each of the 50 states have 2 Senators irrespective of population. In the unlikely event that the Democrats do win the TWO seats then with the vote of the Vice-President (I may be wrong there) can give the Senate majority to the Democrats. That for the Republicans would be a nightmare. 

And the much lesser question; what about Rudy who is so much part of my present dialogue. Perhaps he is destined to depart to the circuit of television shows like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”. 

As a slight postscript is it not amazing to see the queues of cars forming in car parks as they pick up charity food boxes? This in such a wealthy country!   

Have a happy Thanksgiving.         



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