Thursday, March 26, 2015

Boyle Senior team and panel Sunday March 22nd 2015

Please click on the photo to see a large version.

Boyle Senior team and panel Sunday March 22nd 2015 at Boyle’s Abbey Park in the first Senior League game of the season v Tulsk. Boyle 0.13 Tulsk 1.8.

Back Row:
Enda Smith/David Kelly/Jim Suffin/Aaron Sharkey/Ben Kearns/Ciarán Beirne/ Mark Goldrick/Michael Hanmore/Tadhg Lowe/David Callaghan/ Tomás Halligan/Tadhg McKenna/Ciarán Cox/Mark O’Connor/Jason McDermott/Conor McGowan/ Roch Hanmore.

Front Row:
Liam Conroy/Colin Goldrick/Colm Brennan/Cathal Horan/Dylan Mattimoe/Joe Sweeney/Brian Goldrick/Brian Furey/Seanie Purcell/Donie Smith/ Killian Cox/ Declan McGovern/ Mark O’Donohoe/Stephan Tonra/Evan McGrath.

( Manager Ml. Jordan, Eire Og/ with Kieran Supple and Peter Gavigan/assisted by Karl Kennedy, Cian Smith, Liam Kearns and Aaron O’Connor). 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Update 25th March

Joe Brolly and Organ Donor Week

As John Mac Phearson related in the post on the Home Page of realboyle last week this is Organ Donor Week.  John told of his personal experience and gratitude to those who participate in the scheme. One of its great proponents is the former Derry footballer and TV analyst Joe Brolly. Joe was on the Brendan O’Connor TV show a short time ago and spoke with emotion and compassion on a number of subjects demonstrating his hitherto disguised vulnerability. Indeed some of the memorable moments on TV are those when some unexpected guest, shows that vulnerability such as the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan once when talking of his wife who had Alzheimer’s.  Joe had himself donated a kidney to a friend which did not succeed and obviously it had impacted pretty severely on Joe himself. While he did not mention it then he is advocating an ‘Opt Out’ system regarding Organ Donation. That involves people who do not wish to participate ’opting out’ thus leaving the remainder as potential donors under appropriate terms and conditions. 

On the night Joe curiously wore a rose with the figures 65 which he explained was a way to help kids pronounce ‘cystic fibrosis'. Being a former footballer he referred to the ‘introduction of professional standards and expectations into an amateur game’, to 68% of injuries in Gaelic being linked as ‘over-use injuries’ , ‘sprawling fixture lists’ ‘training bans being ignored’ ‘fourteen training sessions for one Gaelic game as opposed to three for a soccer game’ and so on. One of the salient points the barrister Brolly made was that he got by on two hours sleep a night!

Joe now contributes a column to the Sunday Independent.While Brolly has his critics and occasionally goes a bit over the top he is as Sean O’Dowd refers to occasionally ‘one of the good guys’.  

GAA Review

Boyle win Opener

Boyle defeated Tulsk in their first league game of 2015 at Boyle on Sunday morning. At half time Boyle lead by 0.12 to 0.1 and we, the Boyle supporters, were basking in the sunshine of a near perfect display. What happened next is currently being described by the phrase ‘reality check’. When I say that the final score was Boyle 0.13 Tulsk 1.8 you can understand what I mean. (On the day Galway did not score in the second half in their League game v Laois). Anyway Boyle’s second half was as poor as the first half was good. What happened? Tulsk certainly improved a great deal. The loss of Stephen Tonra from midfield unhinged things but this could hardly have been the head-scratching full story. Points in this League will be very, very, difficult so a loss last Sunday would have been sad. But Boyle did secure the points so that was a positive start.  

Boyle GAA Know Your Sport

Boyle GAA’s current fund-raiser is titled ‘Know Your Sport’ a James O’Boyle creation. It lists 25 sports events for the coming year and asks you to choose from a number of options regarding these accumulating points. The events run through to October so keep a photocopy of your entry to see how you are doing though regular updates will be emailed through Boyle GAA media outlets. I am currently in a St. Brendan’s GAA Club fund-raiser and have survived after five rounds and it is quite appealing. This can be entered by card or online so for our Diaspora in Oz/Canada/U.S./and England i.e. so Damien, Cillian, Tadhg, Darren, Damien, John Harrington, Caoimhin, Ciarán in Perth (congrats on your elevation by the way), Paddy, John Austin and Sean + A.N.Other spread the word. Also it is not just for a Boyle audience everyone is invited. 

Roscommon Dig out Win over Meath

Meath are like an old chestnut tree there for a long time and hard to deal with. This was a poor game but the result was a very good one for Roscommon. The gifted goal which Senan Kilbride finished with aplomb was the difference. The initial target in this League of securing staying there has been achieved and the possibility of promotion is good. Some people seem to have mixed views about this but I firmly believe that it would be great and the worst that could happen, if one looked at the worst case scenario, would be demotion to Division Two next year. This would not be a disaster either. A trip to Killarney would be nice.

The table now stands at :-

Down, 8 points with Meath and Laois to play.
Roscommon, 7 points with Galway and Westmeath to play. 
Cavan 5 points with Westmeath and Meath to come.
Meath 5 points with Down and Westmeath to play.
Laois 5 points with Kildare and Down to play.
Galway 4 points with Roscommon and Kildare.
Westmeath 4 points with Cavan and Roscommon.
Kildare 2 points with Laois and Galway to come.    

Weekend Games

The coming week-end games include Roscommon v Galway in Hyde Park on Sunday at 1.30.
On Saturday Roscommon C.B.S. take on Good Counsel of New Ross in the All-Ireland Colleges ‘A’Final at St. Conleth’s Park in Newbridge.

I see the position of Roscommon GAA Administrator has been advertised again. This process had been well advanced prior to Christmas but was guillotined to the surprise of a number of people.
The possible game of the week-end may well be the relegation play-off between Kilkenny and Clare on Sunday next in Nolan Park, Kilkenny. The fact that the game is in Nolan Park will give Kilkenny the edge. I imagine the retiree Henry Sheflin will make an appearance. The rumblings regarding Davy Fitgerald’s  regime are also in play.


Congrats to Lee McKilleen

Congrats to Lee McKilleen who scored four goals in Boyle Celtic’s win over Carrick-on-Shannon last week. There were some great goals included in that virtuoso performance. 

Palliative Care Unit at The Plunkett Home 

I was just wondering what ever happened to the Palliative Care Unit at the Plunkett Home which had been ready for use a few years ago now?

Tony Blair

It seems to be the fate of some former Prime Ministers to float in a netherland. I see that the reputation of Tony Blair, ironically a Middle East peace broker of sorts, is being dismissed as irrelevant. I occasionally wonder if Mister Blair regrets his disastrous decision regarding Iraq. Blair was a man of considerable ability with a fair wind in terms of popular support and had such a capacity to redress the demons of Thatcher. But he ‘messed it all up’ and is now but a straw in the wind with his legacy in history in tatters. He could have been a contender.  


The Bright Spark Quiz takes place on Good Friday in St. Joseph’s Hall. It is in aid of the Christmas Lights financing. I used to be ok at quizzes but I’m afraid time takes its toll on the memory cells. I still watch them though, from time to time, on TV. One I really look out for is University Challenge which is approaching its 2014/20015 semi-finals on Monday next March 30 on BBC at 8. One of the semi-final teams includes a member by the name of Gabriel Trueblood and I would say he is the best individual contestant I can remember on that quiz. He is the captain of the St. Peter’s College Oxford team and has a penchant for pulling at his hoodie toggle string. Other quizzes I have noticed are Connect, The Chase and of course the long-standing classic Mastermind. So there are some quizzes to sharpen your mind with in preparation for Bright Sparks.  


I am nearly there now being at number two here. This could be many people’s number one and perhaps mine also but for relevancy issues for number one which I will tell you about next week. 

2. Kings of September: The Day Offaly Denied Kerry Five in a Row (GAA)Michael Foley (2007, O’Brien) 

The magnitude and magnificence of the day Seamus Darby made and shattered history was always going to be worth a book someday but that didn’t necessarily mean it would be served by a book worthy of it. Thankfully for everyone all round, especially future generations, Michael Foley would present Kings of September for the 25th anniversary of that landmark game.

Similar in style and format to Alan English’s brilliant ‘Stand Up And Fight’ from a couple of years earlier, Foley would weave together the strands of the Offaly and Kerry stories through painstaking research and countless interviews - Foley would manage to track down and sit down with every player who featured that day, bar an understandably-reticent Tommy Doyle, who Darby either nudged or pushed under the most timeless dropping ball of them all. What follows is not just history but poetry. “The raindrops falling from the net is what I saw,” Eugene McGee would recall. “I felt the breeze going through my fingers,” Charlie Nelligan would wistfully say.

There’s poignancy here too. Two years after that game, the finest of many fine players who took to the field that day would be in a car crash, leaving Matt Connor paralysed in a wheelchair; with remarkable dignity and stoicism, he too tells his story to Foley. Another Offaly player would go homeless a few years later before picking himself back up. But for those Offaly men, they will always have ’82. So too will Kerry; as Foley astutely notes, if it wasn’t losing for that All-Ireland, they most likely wouldn’t have garnered the energy for winning the overlooked three in a row of ’84 to ’86 that enhanced their greatness more than a win in ’82 ever would. And thanks gloriously to Foley; the rest of us will always have ’82 as well.

Sin é

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Update 19th March

Ireland’s Favourite Poem

John Kelly’s ‘The Works’ programme on RTE has been involving the public in a search for what they consider to be Ireland’s favourite poem. A similar project of 2012 involved the search for Ireland’s favourite painting which proved very popular. The winner there was a love painting titled ‘Hellelil and Hildebrand Meeting on the Stairs’ by William Burton. Last week, on RTE 1, ‘The Works’ programme announced the winner of the country’s favourite poem as per this project. Of course this is a very subjective choice like the selection of one’s favourite song or sports book. I have favourite poems of course but I would want to think through them again so perhaps I will do that anon. My favourites are not in this list though I do like a number of those listed.  You may have seen a very popular current Irish poet Paul Durcan read his nominated poem on the Brendan O’Connor show last Saturday night.  While Paul Durcan comes across as a man burdened with melancholy he still has a number of very accessible poems. The one a lot of younger people may remember is ‘Going Home to Mayo’ with the line ‘Daddy, Daddy’, I cried, ‘Pass out the Moon’.  A fun love poem of his, ‘The Man with a Bit of Jizz in Him’. I’ve diverted to Mister Durcan there but I return now to my primary subject Ireland’s favourite poem.         
The project jury was chaired by broadcaster John Kelly, and included the singer Damien Dempsey, former newsreader Anne Doyle, and Catriona Crowe from the National Archives of Ireland.

The full short list was
A Christmas Childhood by Patrick Kavanagh 
A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford by Derek Mahon 
Dublin by Louis MacNeice 
Easter 1916 by William Butler Yeats
Fill Arís by Seán Ó Ríordáin
Filleadh ar an gCathair by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh 
Making Love Outside Áras an Uachtaráin by Paul Durcan
Quarantine by Eavan Boland
The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks by Paula Meehan 
When all the others were away at Mass by Seamus Heaney 

The winning poem in this instance was Seamus Heaney’s 
‘When all the others were away at Mass’ 
(In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984 and it is taken from Clearances, which he published in 1987 on his mother’s death.) 
Of course Seamus Heaney is hugely and deservedly popular. The word accessible comes to mind again with me.  Since Mother’s Day was on Sunday last it might be appropriate to dwell on the winner at this time even if it a little delayed. I imagine the poem will evoke memories of a similar or related scene in a number of people.
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

GAA Review

All-Ireland Club Finals... Disappointment
There was a difference in class in both the All-Ireland Club Finals in Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day. Corofin looked like a fantastic side in their victory over Slaugtneil of Derry. They dominated from the off with many outstanding performances with Michael Lundy being player of the tournament. One would imagine that when the Corofin complement return to the Galway county team, which will probably be for the league game against Roscommon, they will be a formidable force. Slaughtneil had got to this final in a kind of fortuitous way especially in their victory over Crossmaglen. I doubt if Cross would have rolled over so easily had they been in the final.   
Ballyhale Shamrocks had earlier dismissed their Limerick opponents Kilmallock in a similar fashion. It might be suggested that Kilmallock were overcome with the occasion but the difference in class was yawning. So Henry Shevlin has added another top medal to his collection. The speculation now is will he continue in the black and amber for another year or not. In a sense I hope he decides to retire now as I would not like to see this great player reduced to being a bit player or doing a gradual fade away. Kilkenny do not look near being the force they have been and this year could see a changing of the guard. But while we have heard that before it does happen and the omens are suggesting so. 

Roscommon’s Great Display
After the Portlaoise loss to Laois where there was just one top performance that of Cathal Cregg Roscommon supporters were a bit confused. However after Newbridge there was no player of whom it could be said that they did not play well. At half time in the game a supporter told me that their group called to Newbridge cemetery to visit the grave of Dermott Earley before the game which was a thoughtful  gesture.

Roscommon’s U 21 Assassins
The U 21 demolition of Sligo on Wednesday night is further evidence of the quality coming through. In Diarmuid Murtagh, Ultan Harney and Enda Smith this side has three assassins who were just fantastic on Wednesday night. While Enda got three goals Murtagh’s second half goal was just terrific and I was just in line with it. Next Sunday the seniors play Meath in Hyde Park and the U 21s’ play the winners of Mayo/Galway on Easter Saturday April 4 in Pearse Stadium if Galway and in Hyde Park if Mayo. Roscommon C.B.S. play Good Counsel of Wexford in the All-Ireland Senior Colleges ‘A’ Semi-Final in Portlaoise on Saturday March 28.
The first Club Senior League game of the year takes place on Sunday morning in Boyle when Boyle plays Tulsk.     

Spring Clean and Litter Campaign Time

With the good weather and all it is time to attempt the spring clean. I see in Castlecoote, which I keep an eye on, a system where people adopt a distance of road to keep litter free. Perhaps that might be attempted in Boyle. There is quite a bit of litter in evidence on the road sides at the moment. One of the stretches of road that seems to attract more than its share of litter lies between the two arches going out to Lough Key Forest Park. I may have to ‘adopt’ this stretch of road myself but I’d be a little self-conscious doing that on my lonesome.   
Car Lights and Slow Road Vehicles
I mentioned this fairly recently but obviously not everybody read my reminder. The number of cars with defective lights is very significant. Now one can easily enough be unaware of some light defects for a short time but with major deficiencies this should not be the case. The real hazard is the front 
outside light which if not right may confuse the oncoming drive as to the status of vehicle approaching him/her.
Another element that causes frustration and may lead to dangerous passing out is slow-moving road vehicles such as tractors (sometimes cars driven really slowly). It was suggested that the law requires such vehicles to pull in and allow following vehicles space to pass. I have experienced in West Wales spaces being dedicated for such a procedure. Anyway courtesy and consideration on the road is the mantra. Give Respect Get Respect.

Top Ten Sports Books countdown

I’ll just highlight one for this and the following two weeks.  This week it is by Paul Kimmage. For many people it would be their number one.   
3.  A Rough Ride: An Insight into Pro Cycling. One of the greatest sports books ever.
Paul Kimmage (1990, Stanley Paul) (Cycling)

The first time we heard of Paul Kimmage as a writer and maybe even as a cyclist was on Gay Byrne’s radio show when Gay commented upon how struck and impressed he was by a diary piece by a young cyclist on the Giro d’Italia. At one point conditions and Kimmage’s hands had become so cold he’d urinate on them. It was something gritty, visceral neither Byrne nor any of us had really encountered before in sports journalism but after that we’d become such an avid reader of The Sunday Tribune we’d even go on to work for them.
So also would Kimmage, full-time the following year when he would reveal something even grittier in a new book: the sport we thought we’d come to know and even love from watching Kelly and Roche go up against Delgado and Fignon was rife with drugs. Even Kimmage had succumbed to it on a few occasions to get through a couple of rough days everyone else has long forgotten. But as he’d put it himself, that didn’t make him a cheat. That made him a victim. “A victim of a corrupt system, a system that actually promotes drug- taking in the sport.” He didn’t want that for anyone else, which was one of his motivations for writing the book. We’ve heard it said cynically since — even recently — about the book that it isn’t really about cycling and the sheer intrinsic thrill of being out there in the open, the wind in your face or at your back. But it was.
In the early chapters, Kimmage talks fondly about the innocence and joy of cycling off into the dark with Stephen Roche and a couple of friends and “munching away in the spitting rain” on his mother’s fruit cake, laughing and joking about how lucky they were. That to Kimmage was cycling, not these needles and indifference to them, and it was to the cycling he knew and loved that he wanted the sport to return. But cycling itself didn’t want that and it certainly didn’t want him after pissing in the soup (Even Uncle Gaybo would disapprovingly wonder on the Late Late Show why he’d left people open to doubting the purity of “the lads”, Kelly and Roche). Kimmage would continue to be something of an outcast in the sport, especially when its most towering figure Lance Armstrong took issue with Kimmage’s line of writing and questioning. Yet Kimmage would stand true to his convictions and the premise of writing a certain book. “Writing Rough Ride is the most important thing I did,” he’d reflect recently. “The most important contribution I’ve ever made to my sport.”
We can’t think of a more important book anyone has contributed to any sport. In the pantheon of all the fine books we’ve honoured and climbed through here, A Rough Ride stands at the very pinnacle of the mountain, its own Alpe D’Heuz, on the podium, in yellow.
 (Just to reiterate regarding the review above, that while I empathise with it and use it to highlight the book which the reviewers have as their number one, it is not mine. It is just borrowed, for the most part!)

Sin é

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Update 12th March

National Anthems ...Sentiments Therein

I was talking to a person at Abbey Community College’s fine production of “Oliver” last week. However it came up in our conversation she advocated that all young people should learn the National Anthem. I know that on many sporting occasions it is sung with passion. One of the most memorable occasions was when Ireland played England in a rugby international at Croke Park in February 2007. 
Anyway I decided to look up the Irish National Anthem in both Irish and in the English and I include the dominant verse here. Many people bluff somewhat by mouthing through some of the lines at least. It is like the person who has not been to confession for a long time having to take a run at saying ‘The Act of Contrition’! In GAA terms we are helped by it being on the big screen in Croke Park and it is usually included in match programmes.       

Amhrán na bhFiann

"The Soldiers' Song". The music was composed by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney, the original English lyrics by Kearney, and the Irish language translation by Liam Ó Rinn. The song has three verses, but nearly always the shortened version is all that is sung.

Sinne Fianna Fáil,
 atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn,
 Buíon dár slua
 thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
 Faoi mhóid bheith saor
 Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
 Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.
 Anocht a théam sa bhearna baoil,
 Le gean ar Ghaeil, chun báis nó saoil,
 Le gunna scréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar,
 Seo libh canaig Amhrán na bhFiann

Soldiers are we,
 whose lives are pledged to Ireland,
 Some have come
 from a land beyond the wave,
 Sworn to be free,
 no more our ancient sireland,
 Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
 Tonight we man the "bearna baoil",
 In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal,
’Mid cannon’s roar and rifles’ peal,
 We’ll chant a soldier's song

Many National Anthems have their origin in strife and violence. In studying the words of the Irish National Anthem there are a number of sentiments in the verse above that I would not be very comfortable with. So the question is; do you submerge these reservations for the overall symbolism of the expression of Irishness?  
“Land of My Fathers”  “La Marseillaise” and “Star Spangled Banner”
One of the highlights of watching rugby is often the listening to the National Anthems of a number of countries. I think that the Welsh Anthem, ‘Land of My Fathers’, is a magnificent song to listen to especially the uplifting bars towards the end.  
The French anthem “La Marseillaise” is regarded as one of the great anthems of the world. A short review of it suggested; 
“As a proud part-French person, I choose the French National Anthem and for me it is the best (of all) anthems. It is such a powerful anthem. It is about courage, glory and about patriotism towards France. It also defies the tyrannies or Kings”.
It was born out of the violence of the French Revolution. Listening to it may be uplifting. Not knowing what the words mean, many of which are violent, gives you licence to allow that. The French singer would of course know what is involved. 
Scotland’s anthem ‘Flower of Scotland’ is another born out of violence in a victory over England. There is in the words a genuflection to all this being in the past but the chorus continues the historical sentiment. I wonder would many English players know the words but they obviously take it in their stride if they do. The recent referendum result is a kind of contradiction in terms of the sentiments in this anthem.  
While the anthem of the United States “The Star Spangled Banner” was born out of a battle scene it does not indulge violence. It became the country’s official anthem in 1931.
A review went as follows; “The anthem of the United States is truly beautiful. Our country has come so far and these poetic moving words cause us to recall the beginning of our country's history. By listening to this blissful melody, the patriotism in me and fellow proud Americans bursts out”. 
Honourable mention must be given to ‘Advance Australia Fair’ a modern anthem. 
So are some traditional anthems fit for purpose in these times or are they reservoirs of past divisions which we punch out thoughtlessly?    

The Death of Dave McKay of Spurs Evokes Memories

The death of the great Scottish soccer player Dave McKay revived some boyhood memories of my early days in London. Through Pathe news clips in the Royal cinema in Roscommon town I saw some soccer circa 1960. Indeed my first full soccer game to see on television was a European Cup win for Real Madrid over Entrechat Frankfurt at Hampden around 1960. I then became aware of Tottenham Hotspurs and its great team. They won the English First Division League and F.A. Cup double which had not been achieved for a very long time previously in 1961. They had a great team where Danny Blanchflower was a real captain and Bill Nicholson a great a manager. There were other great players such as Bobby Smith, John White, Cliff Jones and Dave McKay. One my favourite players was to join them in December 1961 Jimmy Greaves for £99, 999. I was a ‘boy’ migrant in London in the mid-sixties and was staying in Ealing. So it was that I got the Central Line from Ealing Broadway and took the long tube odyssey, on my own, to White Hart Lane to see ‘my’ team. I was rewarded with a win which included a classic Jimmy Greaves goal. Later I was working for Clare man McInerney in Bethnal Green and a slight head encounter with a nail necessitated a turban of a bandage. This resulted being the subject of some amusing verbal attention at a later Spurs game. A have a myriad of such memories of that decade in my life.
There is a time in our lives when we feel we would remain as the Bob Dylan song title goes ‘Forever Young’.      


1. Best Wishes                                    

Best wishes to the Committee for a successful St. Patrick’s Day Parade next Tuesday.

2. Roscommon’s Reality Check

Last Sunday was a reality check for Roscommon in Portlaoise against Laois. They were deficient at midfield, did not have the zip –on the day-in collecting the breaks and seemed tired/drained or whatever. It has to be said Laois played very well and clearly deserved their win. Next Sunday will be another big challenge for Roscommon in Newbridge versus Kildare. 

3. Scoring Blitz

Abbey Community College qualified for the semi-final of their Connacht Colleges competition with a hard-earned win, after extra time, over St. Enda’s of Galway in the Connacht Centre of Excellence outside Ballyhaunis last Tuesday. The final score was Boyle 6.12 St. Enda’s 9.3 !!  

4. Warm Up Anecdote

The fine Kilkenny rugby player Willie Duggan is supposed to be linked to this story. A new and innovative coach arrived on the club scene. The team member was late for the game. The coach instructed him to ‘warm up’. Apparently this was unusual so the player responded; “I’ll do the ‘warm up’ or I’ll ‘play’ the game but I’ll not do both!  

5. Cricket

I actually caught up with the Irish Cricket team playing on U.T.V highlights on U.T.V. on Tuesday night. They have had great wins over The West Indies, U.A.E. and Namibia. But this time it was a bad night as they were hammered by India. They now meet Pakistan and the mountain is not any lower there.

6. Mother’s Day   

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. Some time ago I wrote a satisfactory piece called “In Memory of My Father”. I have had it on my beads to attempt to do a similar piece on my mother. But I shy away from it. I’d have to do it pretty right so it will not be for this Mother’s Day. Still her memory is very present though she died thirty one years ago this month.


5. Over The Bar: A Personal Relationship with the GAA 

Breandán Ó hEithir (1984, Ward River Press)

I read this a long time ago and liked it a lot. Like a lot of great sports books it includes a social diary of the time.

A lovely book written to coincide with the Association’s Centenary Year. Full of lore and information on long-forgotten matches and incidents, it doubles as a snapshot of the Galway of the late 1940s, where Ó hEithir studied, and a vanished GAA world. “It is important that younger readers understand that these were times of great paternalism,” the author emphasises. “Various organisations and institutions tried to keep their members on the straight and narrow path of virtue, from conception to resurrection.”

He recalls his stint in the Irish Press and is enlightening on the paper’s role in covering the seminal 1931 All-Ireland three-part final; bemoans the trials and tribulations of following the Galway hurlers (okay, perhaps not an entirely vanished GAA world); and has a go at Micheál Ó Hehir, whose folksy commentary on the 1946 All-Ireland semi-final, in which Kerry reputedly horsed Antrim out of it, drove him “to the verge of apoplexy”.

This is one of the most loved GAA books ever, especially precious to those 45 or older who’ll always be grateful for and mindful of the first great GAA book they read and who’ll no doubt be surprised that it wasn’t ranked higher here. And maybe they’re right and smarter and hipper than a part of us who wonders if this mightn’t be so hip or relatable for younger readers. But even the kids would have to acknowledge how Ó hEithir’s writing is direct and shot through with a dry wit. “Long may it [the GAA] continue to entertain, exasperate and invigorate,” Ó hEithir declares. Sums it up perfectly. To be savoured on a winter’s night by the fireside with a glass of whiskey, if you are the appropriate age.

4. The Club (GAA)

Christy O’Connor (2010) 

Such a simple idea, so brilliantly executed. That the author was goalkeeper with the St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield senior hurling team and a member of the club’s committee was largely irrelevant; he could as easily have been corner-forward on a middling intermediate football team in, say, Cavan. Thus he quarries the universal from the local and particular: the machinations leading up to the appointment of a new manager; the lack of action for ordinary club players; the tensions and personality clashes that inevitably permeate every club; guys going drinking a couple of nights before a match; the delicate task of keeping Her Indoors onside.

All GAA life is here and there is absurdly premature death too, with the author’s baby daughter Roisín and Ger Hoey, spiritual leader of the St Joseph’s team that won the All-Ireland club title in 1999, passing away within a few days of each other. This chapter is all the more effective because O’Connor employs one violin instead of an entire string section. A safe prediction: The Club will be as fresh and relevant in 50 years’ time as it is today.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Update 5th March

Kerry’s Declan O’Sullivan’s Star Turn 

Saturday last at King House was an atmospheric event with a superstar of Gaelic football in attendance in Declan O’Sullivan. There was a great mix of people from the region present, the very young to the not so young. I guess they were there to celebrate the presentation of well-deserved awards to three young Boyle Gaelic stars, Donie and Enda Smith and Tadhg Lowe, by Boyle GAA club. The presentations were made by Boyle GAA officers Mary Clifford, Kathleen Hanmore and Martin Dolan. The M.C. for the occasion was Benny O’Brien of Shannonside Sport. Also present was five time All-Ireland medal winner,captain on two occasions - Declan O’Sullivan. Declan spoke clearly and well. While he touched on the usual themes of good coaching and saying that “If something is worth doing at all it is worth doing well”. The commitment of the top sportsperson was highlighted in his feeling that they have little or no time for a social life. While he did not see professionalism in Gaelic football he said the players might get better expenses to offset the many infringements on the lives of top players because of that necessary commitment. He was dismissive of the idea of being annoyed by people bothering him saying, tongue-in-cheek “I’ve only five All-Ireland medals which in Kerry...”. The ongoing conundrum prevails for all non-Kerry GAA activists and it is; why and how are Kerry so successful? Declan suggested that “It’s all about Gaelic football in Kerry, it’s in our blood, our commitment …”and so on.

  I too have pondered on this from time to time also. The elements that I see existing in Kerry that are not nearly as evident in other counties are tradition, the success to date, success breeds success, the demand for success by the general GAA public. I remember Kerry supporters being very annoyed with the late and great Paudie O’Shea some years ago. Kerry seem to do what is necessary to succeed. Short periods without an All-Ireland are seen as major crises. Belief is another thing. While there have been many great winning Kerry teams they have also won All-Irelands with average enough teams. I think last year’s Kerry team is a case in point as was the Kerry team of 1962 who beat Roscommon. Recently I met Eugene McGee on the train to Dublin and the above discussion was touched on since he trained Offaly to guillotine the Kerry ‘five in a row drive in 1982. Interestingly he said a book that would interest him would be one on the years Kerry lost All-Irelands. A very different take on things. Perhaps such a case study of similar Mayo losses might be enlightening.

  Regarding great footballers he played with and against Declan referenced Michael Meehan and Bernard (?)Brogan of Dublin while the Kerry greats were the Gooch Cooper and Tomas O’Shea not just for his football but also for his dressing room passion. He mentioned the joy it was to train with Cooper and see in a non- game- setting the skills of this genius of a player.
Declan was a great and patient guest and posed in innumerable photos with young and old. A star in more ways than one.

Sports and Associations Display

This was a central event of a broad exhibition of sporting clubs and associations in the town of which I am told by Frank Geelan there are approximately seventy two. While this number sounds high it is fair to say that the town is pretty well served by many vibrant clubs and associations, soccer, Gaelic, badminton, cycling, golf, walking, running, tennis, badminton, fishing, community games, scouts, brownies, photographic, musical and residents associations  and many more. 
It is was an impressive event and the organisers from Boyle Chamber of Commerce, Boyle TM and Bank of Ireland and participants are to be commended for their considerable efforts.   

Michael Harding and the Arigna Way

On Thursday night March 5th the writer Michael Harding is the presenter of an episode of the RTE. series called ‘Tracks and Trails’. Its promo states it embraces the trail ‘from Boyle to Arigna’.  In the background of the clip is walking enthusiast and guide Philip James. Michael Harding is a columnist with the Irish Times and has written a number of interesting books such as ‘Staring at Lakes’ He has quite a different take on things in a kind of an upbeat culchie way. He has appeared on the usual diet of Irish Television talk shows and will be  playing in the role of the Bull McCabe in John B Keane’s ‘The Field’ on the 50th. anniversary of the play, at the end of April in the Gaiety in Dublin.  Harding was born in Cavan in 1953 and is now living in Leitrim. He was in the priesthood for a time and has received a number of prestigious writing awards and has built up a considerable cv . in cultural areas. Michael has a different persona but I suppose that is not too different to many of us. 
Series Three of Moone Boy has returned on Monday nights at 9 on Sky 1 or Sky 1+1 at 10. It took a bit of jigging to get the second channel there.  


1. Gerry Emmett

Last week I repeated an anecdote involving Rattler Byrne of Tipperary today I relay one close to home involving restaurateur, raconteur, and Roscommon Herald Sports Personality Award winner Gerry Emmett. Gerry was a member of various Summerhill College teams during his time there. He was for a long time a great club stalwart for his club St. Ronan’s. Gerry was a member of the Roscommon 1978 All-Ireland U-21 winning side which defeated Kerry in Roscommon and was a member of the panel of the 1980 All-Ireland Roscommon senior team defeated by Kerry. He played in the 1981 League Final v Galway. He remained as a member of the Roscommon panel for a number of years. 
Now the anecdote. Gerry was playing at corner forward and Tony McManus was playing at full forward. Tony, a star player, missed a few chances. Eventually Gerry admonished Tony Mac with ‘Tony if you don’t up your game I’ll be taken off’!  

1. ( b)

Summerhill will contest this year’s Connacht Senior ‘A’ Football Final against Roscommon C.B.S. on Saturday the 14th of March (I think) in Carrick-on-Shannon. Summerhill defeated St. Jarlath’s and Roscommon C.B.S. defeated St. Gerald’s of Castlebar in the Semi-Finals. This is a rare pairing for the Connacht final and if anyone knows otherwise you might let me know. Also it must be long time since there was no Galway or Mayo school in this grade of Connacht final. 

2. Boyle Man World Number One

At a 90th birthday party recently in King House, I met a Boyle Athlete, John McDermott, who represented Ireland in the 60's in hurdles when at college. Now aged seventy he is still at the  top of his game. He won the European Masters (aged 70 and over) 300 metres hurdles last year in a time that  placed him at number 1 in the world. He also won the 400m. flat putting him at number 2. He also ranks number two in the world in the decathlon and number five in the world in the  Pentathlon. He attributes his ability to his lifelong commitment to fitness and his luck in avoiding injuries. John was a member of the Boyle GAA which won the junior Championship in the mid-sixties. (There were only junior and senior grades then). Many young people will remember John from his life-long association as regional organiser with Foroige.  As Michael Caine’s biography title relayed ‘Not a Lot of People Know (all) that’.    

3. New Land League

People have been surprised that an organisation called The New Land League are involved in a major property dispute in Killiney in Dublin. The founder of the New Land League is Jerry Beades originally from Roscommon. The organisation is in existence for about a year. And concerns itself with repossessions on foot of mortgage arrears. Their concern for the dilemma faced in Killiney regarding a property valued at millions of euro is a far cry from the concerns of the original founder of C19th Land League, Michael Davitt.

4. The ‘Claire Byrne Live’ show

The ‘Claire Byrne Live’ show on R.T.E. on Monday night also dealt or tried to deal with aspects of this major issue. This revolved around the effectiveness or otherwise of P.I.P.S.  i.e. Personal Insolvency Service and its Practitioners. Apparently this panacea for those in mortgage arrears has not been very effective as only one thousand of the 30,000 plus in arrears have engaged with the service. Claire herself seemed overrun by the debate as she flitted from one person to another without giving them time to answer. The one person presenter was not a success here. Talking of TV programmes there was an interesting discussion on the Vincent Browne on Monday night on the minimum wage which has stood at €8.65 for a number of years now.      

5. Happy Retirement

I extend very best wishes to Martin Dolan on his retirement from Leitrim County Council Executive. I am sure he has been a great servant to that Council and that he will be sorely missed. Their loss is Boyle's gain as Martin is involved in a number of the town's organisations including the GAA and Boyle Credit Union. 

6. Best Wishes

Best Wishes also to Abbey Community College with their production of Oliver this week. I look forward to it. Also Roscommon Drama Festival which gets under way this coming weekend and Glenamaddy Drama Festival which begins on the 19th of March. 

7. Donegal to Dublin

I presume a good few people will have heard of the Donegal woman who was brought to Mountjoy Jail Dochas Centre in Dublin by Taxi accompanied by two Gardai via Sligo for incomplete payment of a fine for not having a TV licence. She was released from there after three hours and given the means to make her own way back home. What can one say! I actually heard an couple of hours ago on the Sean O’Rourke programme a person who was being interviewed by Paddy O’Gorman outside Letterkenny courthouse, as it happens, refer to Castlerea prison as being like a ‘playschool’ !  

Cootehall’s Double Diamond Sign

8. On a trip to a game in Cootehall I noticed that a kind of iconic trade sign of that village is in terminal contraction. It is the Double Diamond sign on the way up to the church or for others on the way up to Henry’s bar. The last time I referred to this in print it was missing just two letters but now it HAS just two letters. Maybe it can still be saved. Cootehall won’t be the same without it!       


Sports Books Countdown

7.  (I was in New York for 3 summers in the late sixties and got to watch baseball, mostly on TV but got smitten with it and now have read a number of classic books on the sport and this is at the top).

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn (Baseball)

A classic in the genre, Roger Kahn’s love letter to baseball is really an epic in three parts. From his childhood spent as a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers to his time as a reporter covering them up to their 1955 World Series victory to his revisiting of the Dodgers’ greats like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella in their dotage, Kahn’s exploration of his own life through the lens of baseball is not to be missed.

Also: ‘The Summer of ’49’ The Yankees v The Boston Red Sox with Di Maggio v Ted Williams. (There is an American singer, who has been in the Moving Stairs in its day, Chuck Brodsky, who specialises in Baseball songs.)  

6. Back from the Brink: The Autobiography … Paul McGrath, with Vincent Hogan (2006, Arrow) (soccer) ... (Tony Adams of Arsenal also has a fine similar confessional book)  

A book that should be read by everyone — once. To read it a second time could be too much. It is a harrowing story, with passages that will make you wince, maybe even cry and certainly reflect poignantly on the friend or relative you know similarly affected by alcoholism as McGrath clearly is here. At times it is even almost too truthful, for squeamish us and for McGrath who gives us occasional reason to not particularly like him, something we’d never have considered previously about the most loved Irish footballer of them all.

Of course we’d known he was adopted but just how troubling and scarring that childhood was, we’d no clue; ditto his troubled mental health which involved him suffering a mental breakdown at just 19, leaving him unable to even kick a ball for the guts of a whole year. But it is the depths and lengths to which his alcoholism brought him to that make this such challenging but brilliant reading.

Yet amidst all that, there was football too, and it is a credit to McGrath’s inner fortitude as well as exceptional talent that he was able to sustain such a career at the elite level well into his late 30s. Vincent Hogan does a masterful job here, with one of his cleverest ideas being to interview old colleagues and managers of McGrath, blending biography within the autobiography. Not only does it offer us stories and insights that either McGrath’s modesty or bleary, beery memory could not volunteer, but a revealing admission from Alex Ferguson that he mismanaged such a troubled but gentle soul. It will always be something of a struggle for McGrath to manage his life but with Hogan, he’s managed to write possibly the greatest football autobiography ever.