Friday, January 30, 2015

Update 30th January 2015

Shane Curran 'Cake' … The Book

I have just finished the biography of Shane ‘Cake’ Curran. I am not really calling it autobiography because I detect a good deal of the influence of the ‘Ghost’ writer Tommy Conlon who formerly worked at The Roscommon Herald. Now I seem to detect a certain dismissive attitude to this book perhaps a snobbishness because of the extrovert character of Shane Curran but I recommend it especially for Roscommon GAA players and followers. We know the context of it, we were at many of the games referred to and we have been aware of Shane for a long time. It is a certain ‘warts and all’ outline of his experiences in Roscommon football and at times somewhat crude.  Some people will be offended but while one might speculate on who they are it is not generally obvious. Anyway that is not the essence of the book.
Shane burst into the consciousness of the Roscommon GAA community with the taking of a penalty in a minor game in 1989. He naturally talks fondly of his home town of Castlerea and the influences it had on him which all seem to be good with frequent references to his family. He various periods of employment also come in for attention. His account of his  time with Athlone Town soccer team shows how down at heal and bleak that ‘professional’ game was.
Through it all he county football career fluctuated and he celebrates the All-Ireland Junior win in 2000 over Kerry in Nenagh. We are treated to the inside track of the great campaign of 2003  especially those hectic encounters with Offaly in Mullingar and Kildare in Portlaoise and rightly rails against the exclusion of Frankie Dolan from winning an All-Star award and to his own exclusion from the Ireland team to visit Australia. 2004 saw Curran again in the central spotlight in Sligo when he scored a penalty and a mighty free.   It all culminates in the great victory of St. Brigid’s in the All-Ireland Club Final of 2012. Shane obviously revels in Chris O’Dowd’s description of him as coming ‘from that great dramatic tradition of out-of-your box crazy goalkeepers……he was gangbusters’.  
Naturally many concerns regarding games management feature  with a mix of frustration and sympathy.  These include the performances of referees and umpires especially those who are bespectacled! He balances this a bit by saying ’Referees and umpires didn’t know what to make of me a lot of the time either’! He has a strong and interesting perspective on club loyalty and the its future. Shane joins the growing chorus against talented players being required to play for so much and the huge pressures that are involved.
This book may not be the establishment’s cup of tea but as the proverb says ‘where everybody thinks alike nobody thinks too much’. As I said I recommend Shane’s book. It is an interesting, rarely dull and important contribution to a players perspective of the game in Roscommon.    

What it Says in the Newspaper

The most consistent paper of record for the Roscommon region has been The Roscommon Herald with honourable contributions from a number of others.  While the whole media scene is changing radically and the printed paper is under severe pressure the hard copy Roscommon Herald is a constant for me. Micheal O’Callaghan was its outstanding editor from the forties to the eighties while it is currently in the safe hands of Castlerea native Christine McHugh. Looking at this week’s copy for instance I empathised with a number of issues covered. The first one, basically dealing with the concerns of Labour Senator John Kelly, is headlined ‘Elderly getting ‘raw deal’ not ‘fair deal’ on page nine. I know a little bit about this and I can only endorse the sentiments expressed. I will not go into the detail here only to say that the hoops and delays involved  by people have to go to arrive at this ‘deal’ puts grave pressure on the word ‘fair’.  
On page ten there is reference to Urgent Care Unit at Roscommon Hospital. I have been through a few hospitals in recent times and have referred to the huge congestion problems at University College Galway. I have experienced this Roscommon Hospital care Unit recently and can say that it was a revelation in terms of care, courtesy, consideration, environment and professionalism. One is regularly so stressed by hospital experience that they are unforgiving experiences but my visit to Roscommon was as it should be therapeutic.  
The third item referred to-on page eighteen- refers to the connectivity ( a new buzz word, Shannon airport and all that) between Boyle and Roscommon town. As someone who has travelled that road so often the same idea had engaged me from time to time. I do not know what the uptake would be and the economics of it but a bus route from Sligo to Athlone seems to have a good deal of merit. I seem to remember that this existed in the past, perhaps the distant past. I will take advisement on that.          

Roscommon GAA Dare to Dream

Roscommon play Cavan in Kiltoom on Sunday next in the first game of this year’s National League in Division Two. Roscommon having won the F.B.D. with victories over Galway and Mayo. In winning the F.B.D. the status of Leitrim did not rise to levels of great threat in Connacht. So we shouldn’t give a gold cup status to the humble looking F.B.D. Cup that we certainly denied it when won by another county. Still the performance against Galway and the goal scoring especially in that game is very positive.  Being in the Final of the U 21 Hastings Cup on Saturday  adds to the buzz around expectations for the coming year. Can Roscommon supporters dare to dream? Of course every year we start with our dreams and that is what the beginning of each GAA year is about. What would be realistic for this year? Well, consolidation in Division Two  is a core value in senior league. Also, with the championship draw, a good whack in a Connacht final appearance could be on the cards. My own real hopes are with the U 21 side. Roscommon has, for me, a wealth of talent at under 21 at the present time so perhaps a  run in that could go a long way again. Of course as a team goes up the ladder the standards are higher and chinks which were not obvious earlier may emerge. A great factor for us in Boyle GAA is that we are going to have a really vested interest in watching Donie, Enda, Evan and Tadgh through these campaigns. Let the games begin.
Congratulations to St. Croan’s on their All-Ireland Semi-Final victory over Louth’s Sean O’Mahoney’s. To be going to Croke Park for a final with your club team is such a dream come through. I was asked recently about favourite sports books and one that echoes the St. Croan’s odyssey  is ‘The Miracle of Castel di Sangro’, by Joe McGinniss which followed a small team’s dream. I did that with Fuerty last year. This is the third year for a Roscommon team to be in a club All-Ireland Final with St. Brigid’s there in 2013 at Senior and Fuerty in 2014 at Junior and this year St. Croan’s at Intermediate. There is another book, on small town American football, called ‘Friday Night Lights’ which covers a similar journey. I wonder has St. Croans done anything significant to record their epic road to Croker journey? The game taking place on February the 14, St. Valentine’s Day begs something special.  Congratulations to David Casey on his contribution to the odyssey of St. Croan's.
There is a wealth of sport this weekend including the great extravaganza in the U.S. of the ‘Super Bowl’ where the Seattle Sea Hawks, with quarter-back Russell Wilson , face The New England Patriots with Tom Brady. I have watched a number of the games in the lead up to the final and amazingly some come down to the very last seconds. If one can cope with the interminable advertisement outages and the journey into the night it is great event.  


The picture of Ray Burke on the sidebar of the front page of The Sunday Independent with the caption ‘I’m glad justice was done’ was reassuring! It is hard to keep a good man down! Underneath was a picture of Michael Lowry with his ‘lovely girl’ comment. Of course another good man rose from the travails of the beef tribunal.
I have only glanced at the recent RTE review of the happenings with the former businesses of Sean Quinn but will get back to it. Another phoenix from the ashes seems in prospect !
The final test of our rehabilitative forgiveness now would be to give some real public financial position to Sean Fitzpatrick. As Portia, in disguise, says in The Merchant of Venice; ‘The quality of mercy is not strained…..’ Her listener was Shylock.
Perhaps I should overcome my reservations about watching Gay Byrne’s series ‘The Meaning of Life’.

Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086 816 3399

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Paddy McDermott Month’s Mind Mass : Boyle Celtic’s Big Game : Driving in Winter : Drugs in Sport

Paddy McDermott Month’s Mind Mass.

The Month’s Mind Mass for Paddy McDermott takes place on Saturday next January 10th in Boyle Church. As I said on his death Paddy was one of the finest contributors to Boyle GAA ever and this was replicated in his many other  Boyle community contributions. At the recent AGM of Boyle GAA, Vice-President Barry Feely, who would have known him longer than anyone else there, paid him a deserved tribute. In it he referred to the fact that Paddy was an outstanding player, held most of the officer positions within the club at one time or another and that there was no job too big or too onerous for Paddy to carry through. It is on the shoulders of people like Paddy McDermott that the GAA is built and has become the great organisation that it is.

Boyle Celtic’s Big Game

Boyle Celtic take on St. Michael’s from Tipperary, the holders, in the last 32 of the F.A.I. Junior Cup in Boyle on Sunday next at 2 p.m. This is the most prestigious competition that the club can partake in. I see that four of St. Michaels players are on the Ireland team and they are obviously a quality side. The Boyle team too are a quality side and play a really attractive style of football. They have had a great run in the last couple of years. Any one of their panel of players can turn in a ‘man of the match’ performance on any given day such is the balance and depth of the team’s ability. One of the largest crowds to attend at Boyle Celtic’s ground is expected and hoped for on Sunday. So I wish all connected with their efforts well.

Driving in Winter

I have done a good deal of driving this winter and a number of things have lodged in mind. I am aware that the road death statistics has risen in recent times and that three vulnerable groups  have been identified. These are cyclists, walkers and motor bike users. There has been a welcome surge in cycling in a very short time. Some cycling practises, especially in urban centres, have been dangerous such as cycling on footpaths, breaking red lights, jigging forward through lines of cars stopped at lights and then finding themselves in peril when the lights turn. On country roads there is the danger involved for motorists that passing by cyclists can be. There is the old adage that says ‘where there are rights there are also responsibilities’. Ireland’s roads are not very cyclist friendly I imagine and little provision has been made for them. This is in contrast to many European countries. 
During my driving I came across a number of instances where road walkers did not make any effort at wearing high visibility clothing and presuming that they were visible to the car driver. Coming on a person with dark clothes on a narrow country road, as I did, is a shock to the system. Then there is the scenario of a car coming in the opposing direction at the same time. 
An item that cropped up regularly was the lighting on cars. Quite a number had defective lights the most significant being the outside right light which made one wonder what was really coming towards you. Having a defective light can pretty easily go unnoticed for a time but it is not rocket science to check them out from time to time.
Another item that came onto my list were the crawlers i.e. one and then a second car going at minimal speeds and the test to one’s patience that this scenario presents regarding  passing out. Personally I tend to let a car, which is obviously going faster than I am, pass, by just pulling in and allowing him the space to do so.  
I feel I am not articulating these issues very well here but I am sure you get the gist of my musings and will have your own experiences.
As a slight postscript we are so lucky in Boyle town to have some very safe footpath walking circuits such as Abbeytown/Maple Drive and Carrick Road. Another option is Abbeytown/ from the first Arch to the Wooden Bridge and in via Lower Deerpark and Sligo Road. These are being widely used these nights as the new year resolutions kick in.    

Drugs in Sport

What are the issues that will come to a head in sport in 2015? One issue that is not going away is performing enhancing drugs in sport and the grey area of ‘enabling’ medication.  A book by a former French player Laurent Benezech has brought the spotlight onto the game of rugby. I listened to a very good debate on the issue between Paul Kimmage and Victor Costello on R.T.E. Radio sport on Sunday afternoon last.  Paul suggested that the rugby authorities generally and  particularly in Ireland, were not rigorous enough in their approach to the problem and challenged how the changes in the physiques, weight and the power of players were being achieved. In an interview the great Irish rugby player of the fifties Jack Kyle said; “In our day our skill was in avoiding getting hit”,  while today putting in the HIT is one of essentials of the game. This is similar to the tactic beloved in U.S. football of ‘sack the quarter back’ . Perhaps rugby at club level is pretty benign but personally I would not encourage people into the sport. I wonder what the injuries statistics are in rugby?  Are there performing enhancing drugs in Gaelic?  I remember a product called, I think, Creatine cropping up a number of years ago. Is there much testing in Gaelic?


It was nice to see a former student doing well recently. On the R.T.E. programme depicting the rebuilding of St. Mel’s Cathedral Cathal Cregg featured prominently with his company supplying and installing the very impressive columns for the nave. I have seen Cathal feature before in historic restoration but this must be a real highlight and proud moment for him and his company.
**While Christmas is well past now the best piece I read over Christmas was Kevin Hickey’s Facebook Post on his shopping experience pre-Christmas. This might carry a slight health warning for the squeamish! 
Also there is the re-publication of a fine piece by Christy Wynne in the Roscommon Herald titled ‘Happy memories of times past’ in this week’s Roscommon Herald’ page 39. This gives a detailed account of the lead up to Christmas when Christy was a boy which is a while ago.
It was good to meet those home for Christmas at the successful GAA Quiz one of the Christmas nights.  
I do not know if anyone has copies of a Connacht GAA publication called ‘Into The West’, Vol. 4 Issue 9 for Sept./Oct. 2013. If anyone comes across a copy I’d be interested.
I wish all readers here a good 2015.

Forest View,
Co. Roscommon
Mob: 086 816 3399