Saturday, July 17, 2021

Update 17th July

Boyle GAA Nursery Initiative.

The True Spirit Shines Forth from the Actions of Babes; One of my positive ‘sights’ of Boyle arises when walking up the Sligo Road from below the Abbey Park on a sunny day and seeing the Cúl Camps for young players in progress. To see the lovely Abbey Park in its historic environs dotted with wee kids like mushrooms is a sight to behold. This was endorsed when I read the following notice in the GAA notes recently, and I quote;

“Last Monday July 5th , Boyle (GAA) started our nursery programme with the most enthusiastic kids that ever walked or ran on grass. There were 66 boys and girls and over 20 coaches and (club) officers in action  on that Monday evening. The 4 to U 6 programme focuses on basic movements and skills with the most important skill to having fun and making friends . Well done to all”.

And isn’t it great to be able to add our own ‘well done’ to all involved also? That is the spirit and long may the aspiration of skills, fun and friends be to the fore with those growing kids and enlightened mentors.

*Speaking of the fine Abbey Park there is a big draw in the process in conjunction with Boyle Celtic to raise funds to provide better facilities for both clubs at their playing fields. The Abbey Park must be one of the best-used sporting facilities around. It is great to see the togetherness of both the soccer and Gaelic club clubs taking on this major fundraiser in true community spirit. Now if anyone reading this abroad especially it would be great to see them come on board by purchasing a ticket and in so doing be in with a chance to win a major prize of a car plus while supporting the home place. To do so, if you log into the websites of Boyle Celtic or Boyle GAA  you can buy a ticket online there. Or if necessary contact me at   

Roscommon and GAA at a Crossroads.

Roscommon Senior team gave a disappointing display when being beaten by Galway in the Connacht Semi-final. It is not as if they did not try their utmost which we should always bear in mind. Losing to Galway is not new and if one studied the statistics that would be borne out. We have had our days in the sun and rain in Salthill and other venues. Our population mitigates against the pyramid of numbers. Each spring we dust ourselves down, put last year's disappointment aside with renewed vigour and …most years get chastised for our optimism!

Still there are chinks of light coming through the floorboards. One was the display, a while ago now. It was the Roscommon minor team especially in a win over Galway. We made our star contribution then with young Crag and reserve goalkeeper McPherson on standby. This group stayed together for many months to take on a fine Kerry team in the All-Ireland Semi-Final last Sunday. This too was a great game with young Crag injured being a big deficit but they never gave up and had some obvious bright players in Hand, Gamely and others as the scoreline shows the coat of negativity was left aside as they went at it ‘hammer and tongs’ and gave us a lovely exhibition of skill, openness and sportsmanship. Congratulations to all.

The U 20s’ also are in the Connacht final v Mayo having defeated Sligo last weekend. So we can look forward to that and not take the flag down yet.

The Crossroads

The defeat of Leitrim 0.11 to Mayo 5.20 has poured more fuel on and sparked a renewed debate on the logic of these matchups. This, for the most part, is tied into the Provincial structures which have obtained since the beginning. But is this still fit for purpose? I doubt it but many conservatives will not be for changing. This week in his very popular column in The Roscommon Herald Fr. Liam Devine suggested that the system of Senior, Intermediate and Junior as practised by the LGFA is worthy of consideration for a change.

It works well within the county so why not outside? It is outside for inter-club competition rivalry leading to All –Ireland days for Senior, Intermediate and Junior Clubs. I was part of that a few years ago when Forty got to the All-Ireland Junior Final and though defeated they were really satisfied that they got to play in Crooke Park. Historically Roscommon for some years in the latter years of the 1930s’ took part only in the Junior championship. Then in 1939 they reached the final of that competition and lost but retuned to win it in 1940. That team formed the basis of the great days of the forties for Roscommon. At under-age, I’ve always felt that winning or more importantly participating in a  competition at whatever level is much better than being out of one’s depth at a much higher level. The milk ad is a real example of perspective. ‘Another team would have lost by 15 goals.

Lough Key Park.

I have visited Lough Key Visitor and Activity Park a number of times of late. It is really in full bloom especially when the sun shines. The staff and management there have tried extremely hard to enhance the facilities and services that people can avail of. I presume that most people from around Boyle appreciate what they have on their doorstep. There are numerous kiosks now to facilitate patrons. Once the park seemed to resist such customer/visitor aids. Now there are plenty of diversions. I look forward to the opening of the playground!  With the Coved time emphasis on holidaying at home, I presume that it has helped swell the number of people who use the camping sites. There is a big increase in Irish ownership of camper vans and such. Ireland seemed to me to have been behind the curve with this type of holiday escape.

The fairly recent Renaissance of cycling continues at a pace and one sees this in the park as all ages avail of pedal power. It is such an exercising, valid and safe way to get to grips with the various tracks and trails of the park. The introduction of the new cycleway from the park and into Boyle is a real bonus. In more reasonable times one could imagine the volume of users of this lovely cycleway and end up in the town of Boyle. Boyle had been on a very positive visitor curve in 2019 and hopefully, that will crystallise next year.  So Louise keep pushing the positive boundaries. Keep the faith as the populist saying goes.  

McGahern Barracks is Open to visitors

The Barracks in Cootehall is open by appointment only from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.  Appointments can be made via the Barracks website, or by contacting 087 9588734. Entrance fee is €5 per adult and €2.50 for children aged from 11 to 17. It is on my ‘to do’ list.  

The Elixir/Beauty of Sport;

The end of the Euros was also the end of a month of high drama and entertainment. It was perhaps the most dramatic and enjoyable sports Tournament for decades. Maybe that call is influenced by its immediacy. One has to review it in reverse order starting with the Final.

It was certainly high drama. England’s immediate, unexpected score, distorted the scene for some time. Italy, probably the best team in the Tournament were deserved winners. They were involved in two of the most dramatic games of the series, their win over Spain and then against England. Italy had the ‘personality’ of the Tournament in their captain Giorgio Chiellini and the second Gladiator Bonucci. Chiellini showed his leadership and also his enjoyment of the challenges he faced. Regularly too we saw him smile and show how relaxed the great player could be on numerous occasions during the competition. He was someone with whom the Italian support could muster around. They too had a charismatic manager in Mancini. This quick revival resulted from their failure to get to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This was incredible for Italy and also hard to believe is the fact that this Euro win is their first since 1968!    

For the naysayers in terms of supporting England, it must have been a joy but for the minority in this country who tipped the scale in the direction of wanting England to win it was disappointing. This is an ongoing debate for a long time. While the team management and teams themselves are very likeable entities a lot of the ire is due to that section of support who do so much damage to the image of the total package. Booing the national anthems of opposing teams, the drunken and aggressive behaviour as witnessed in Lansdowne Road some years ago. The ‘gung ho’ of the red top papers, the equating of a potential win as being another item of evidence of a false positive for BREXIT and so on. They make it hard to be on their side nationally.

The team members themselves seem to me to be probably to a man genuine decent people. Who can criticise Harry Keane, McGuire, Walker, Rice, Grealish. A number of those have recently emerged as social benefactors led by Marcus Rashford and Raheen Sterling . Thousands of Irish follow these same players with various teams in the English leagues.   

 However, those whose job it is to try and expunge the cancer in the English support have an almighty task on hand. But it has to be done. The pictures of hundreds of ‘fans’ without tickets rushing into Wembley was like a repeat of the attack on the Capitol in Washington on January 6th. A commentator I saw on television describing the drink and drug-fuelled scene on Wembley Way long prior to the game was frightening.

The British Open Golf;

The grey skies of post Euros have passed and another iconic sporting event is in progress i.e. the British Open Golf on the  Royal St. George’s bumpy looking course in Kent on the coast, not far from London. Irish hopes are as always recently with McIlroy and Lowry. Lowry had a great win two years ago at Portrush in the rain and has been the custodian of the ‘Claret Jug’ trophy  since then as there was no ‘Open’ in 2020.

The British and Irish Lions are in South Africa but lost a secondary game on Wednesday night. The three tests are the real challenges with those tournaments. The Springboks are world champions and showed that on Wednesday. Despite Covid restrictions and lack of meaningful games, they are still a huge and intimidating test. So the battles are coming down the road.  All this is taking place to the background of a country in turmoil with riots and social unrest topped by the pandemic of Covid.

The Olympics too begin on Friday July 23rd to a background of Covid and zero crowds which will of course create a surreal atmosphere and be a benchmark in the history of this great international gathering of all brands of sports.  

Books and More Books

I was pleased but not surprised to see that a former student of mine, Harry Keaney, put a section of his life down on paper. As has been heralded on the Home Page of Realboyle the title of the book is ‘Carrowreagh’ where Harry lived as a boy. It lies between Ballyrush and Riverstown. I know the area pretty well. He deals with those youthful times vividly. He treats of the next stage in his life when he attended St. Mary’s College in Boyle with kindness and regard. The founder of St. Mary’s, Father Kevin Dodd, was from the neighbouring townland of Ballyrush and so boys from that area gravitated towards Boyle. The next part of his life was a reporter mentored by the Michéal O’ Callaghan, Editor of The Roscommon Herald. His biographical journey ends there in this book.

Perhaps he plans to add a second part to it, as, after a ten-year stint there, Harry went to New York and continued in the newspaper business with the Irish paper there the ‘Irish Echo’.  During that time he was nominated as Sligo ‘Person of the Year’. He had a 3-year stint with the Sligo Champion before going to N.Y. and returned to it again for around 13 years on coming back to Ireland.  At present he is involved with Ocean FM Sligo local radio station.  

1966 U 21 All-Ireland

I heard of a gentleman enquiring regarding a book in production on this great team. The person who is doing this was a member of that team Paul Mockler from Ballinlough who now lives in retirement in Ennis. The book is now with the printers and I will advise those interested when it is available. Boyle had a number of players on that team such as Pat Clarke, Pat and John Nicholson, John Kelly (Elphin) and Ray Sheeran from Knockvicar. They defeated a star-studded Kildare in the final.

There are some other books I have come across lately which I will mention anon.

I will adjourn at that so take care and enjoy the sunshine.       

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