Launch of Roscommon GAA Book
(Supporting Pieta House)
The Great Roscommon Team of the Seventies
As you can imagine I, with many more Roscommon supporters, would be very interested in a book which deals with a period of Roscommon GAA History. So thanks to Richard Canny we have a quite original one which was launched in the sumptuous surrounds of Kilronan Castle last Sunday night by Dermot Earley Jnr. ‘Roscommon Football Legends’ is ‘The Story of the Great Roscommon Team ‘77/’80’. It is not just a straight line narrative of the teams successes and disappointments during that period but it tries through the contributions of its players, opponents and supporters to get to heart and soul of that particular period from varied angles. Of course the progress of the team will be dealt with from the early seventies to becoming the power team in Connacht winning four Connacht finals in a row, contesting 5 All-Ireland Semi-Finals (’77 draw and replay), winning the League in ’79, doing a double over Kerry in Hyde Park in ’78 when winning the U 21 final and the Ceannáras Cup (that was a competition to help finance development of office structures at Croke Park). The book is laced with illustrations from teams and supporters, team lists, player profiles but most notably the deep feelings of many great days but also of the huge disappointments crowned by the defeat in 1980 in the All-Ireland Final to Kerry. It was unlucky that a great Roscommon team came up against probably the greatest Gaelic football team in the history of the game. That’s the hand that fate deals much of the time.
I have only begun to read the book since Sunday naturally enough so a snapshot of the contents shows the diversity of the contributions. They include the experiences of radio followers in London and the struggle to get decent reception by improvisation. It opens with an essay from Paul Healy, proprietor of the Roscommon People, titled; ‘Growing Up in the Company of Giants’. Liam Devine, columnist with the Roscommon Herald, provided the narrative outline of the various campaigns.
I wrote an essay for it also, beginning with the Connacht Final of July 15th 1979. It is easy to remember that date as I got married the previous day and we headed to Castlebar for the final!
There is a picture of Boyle National School students outside their school with their banner emblazoned ‘Roscommon are the Greatest’. Close but not fully accurate. Just for emphasis the picture turns up again on page 65.
The main thrust of my piece however was the journey to and especially home from that 1980 final. Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times has a piece ‘Ballaghaderreen: where football can take away any little sense we had’. I’ve seen that happen regularly!
Martin Wynne from Boyle has his piece headed ‘The Heartbeat of Roscommon Football’. There are profiles/interviews with nearly every member of the team and what a team they were. Gay Sheeran in goals; a powerful full back line of Keegan, Lindsay and Connellan; Danny Murray the captain, a lovely footballer who drove forward with Donnellan and Fitzmaurice at half back; Earley the figurehead with the powerful Hayden in midfield.
The half forward line with probably the most talented Roscommon player I ever saw, Michael Finneran from Ballinagare; John O’Gara in the middle and Dooley from Pearses. At full forward was Tony Mac with his brother Eamon and the rock star of the team John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor in the corner. This was the a team which was to field without a substitute we all know well, the mercurial Gerry Emmett.
There are profiles of most of them and also their manager Tom Heneghan who was a classmate of my own in Roscommon C.B.S.
Seamus Duke probably summed those years up best for us with his contributions headline, ‘A Truly Magical time for Roscommon Football’.
I was accompanied to the launch by Gerry Emmett, a substitute in ’80 and an All-Ireland U 21 winner in ’78 and John Kelly another U 21 winner, in ’66, and a great senior with Roscommon in the late sixties and early to mid -seventies. Phil Emmett was the nominated driver! At first it seemed as if there was only going to be a small group present but we were early. Soon it filled up as Gerry would extol the allegiance of the true supporters of North, North, Roscommon and the usual suspects were there of course. The Sheerans, Gay, Mary, Seamus and Stephen; (Dermot was marked absent) stalwarts Gerry Guihan, Alan Benson, Declan Killoran, Coxie as Emmett always referred to him with his partner and Sean Martin casting a knowing quiet eye on proceedings. A lady from Rooskey, Rita Bennett, was slightly apologising because she had missed one of the three county launches! The team was represented by Sheeran, Lindsay, Connellan and Emmett with apologies from O’Connor in Donegal. Rita Bennett assiduously did the rounds getting her autographs and I thought about the varied manifestations of Roscommon supporter, indeed county supporters everywhere. A gentleman who had written a poem, which is included on page 78, had driven up from Portlaoise for the occasion. There were the regular football heads there from various clubs which I have seen many times and nodded to down the years, occasionally getting their names only to forget them again when winter came. Also present was former County Board Secretary Tom Mullaney now of this parish as the old books used to announce. Tom was a big contributor and important motivator to the publication of the original Roscommon GAA County History in 1990 in which I was involved.
Richard Canny’s book was launched by Dermot Earley Jnr. He spoke of his time as a boy when he and other members of the family accompanied their dad Dermot Snr. to training and games with Roscommon and the pull Roscommon had on them then and still has. Paddy Kenny gave a brief explanation of the work of Pieta House and the need for it.
Richard Canny and family were busy and they could be proud as it is a pretty big thing to produce a book of any kind. He dedicated his book to three people Dermot Earley; his father-in-law and to his own dad. Indeed a number of the memories relayed, by adult people now, included references to being at the matches then with their dad. I can empathise with that memory legacy.
You might consider looking up and purchasing the book for itself and for the cause it supports.
**Proceeds of the book sales go to supporting the work of Pieta House. The books should be available at local outlets but if anyone has difficulty getting one they can do so by contacting me at 086 816 3399 as I have a number for sale, price €20.
There will be a Dublin ‘Launch’ of the book in the Palace Bar in central Dublin on Monday night. Apparently The Palace Bar is now a popular meeting place for young Roscommon people domiciled in the capital. So spread the word on that please.
Aleppo, Syria; An Outpost of Hell on Earth
Why is it that ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’ never ends and is constantly manifested in the wars, famines, prejudice that permeates this world of ours. In the recent past it has been Ethiopia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Srebrenica, the Jewish Holocaust, the pogroms of Stalin in the 1930s’, the Turkish Armenian massacres and the endless list of similar atrocities. I saw the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, nearly crack when talking about the crisis there and about the Russian delegate’s ‘lies’ as she saw them. (Miss Powers was born in Ireland of Irish parents but went with her mother to the U.S. aged nine. She has written on and is an expert in ‘genocide’ throughout the world.)
When I look at the pictures of Aleppo it reminds me of the Post-World War Two pictures in the scale of the destruction.
I remember as a boy being in a school library and on a high shelf was a book of drawings by Dante, the subject being Hell. We as boys were forbidden to view it for its traumatic impact. It seems as if, for the seekers of power and influence, creating a hell on earth is a valid price to extract from those who oppose them. As this proceeds the world body that had been established in the aftermath of W.W.2 with such hope and possibility, the United Nations, meet in ‘emergency session’ on a regular basis on the Aleppo tragedy, wring their hands but the short cease fires end and the slaughtering resumes. As the variation on the biblical saying goes; 'An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind’.
St. Stephen’s Day Match Abbey Park
I got a post to tell me that Aaron Sharkey, Darren O Connor and Mark O’Donohoe are organising an over 30s’ V under 30's match on Stephen’s Day. These lads are trying to raise some ‘coin’ to enhance facilities and the environment of the gym with a donation going to Brothers of Charity from whatever proceeds accrue.
To Mikey McGrath, a very visible presence in the Abbey Park, who represented Ireland recently in a soccer friendly v Northern Ireland for a second time as part of the Cerebral Palsy development squad. The result was a nil to nil draw.
Don’t mention the weather in case we alert the gods. We might get away with over the Christmas. I really felt I heard the jingle of an ice-cream van a few days ago and I certainly saw tables and chairs outside the ‘Open Table’ restaurant on the Crescent yesterday. Al Fresco dining in mid-December in Boyle now that is something for the brochure.
Michael and Maria Kelly and their family of Mario, Olivia baby and three soon.
**I hope to gather the names that I’ve published here for one big shout in the middle of next week for the final blog for Christmas.
Boyle GAA Annual Quiz and Meet takes place on Wednesday Dec. 28th in the hall, time 7.30 for 7.45 finishing shortly after 10.
FBD Game in Boyle
Also another pretty significant occasion for the club takes place on January 8th at the Abbey Park when Roscommon begin their competitive season in the FBD League against Sligo I.T.
Railway Cup Sat. Carrick
On this Saturday Connacht, with quite a number of Roscommon players including Enda Smith of Boyle, take on Ulster in the Railway Cup Final in Carrick-on-Shannon at 2.
RTE Sports Awards Saturday 17th at 9pm.
Roscommon GAA Convention in Ballinameen Friday Night
The Roscommon GAA Convention is a significant event when it goes out to a club venue from Roscommon town. We had it in Boyle a number of times. I remember it being in St. Joseph’s Hall on a very snowy evening with Michael O’Callaghan in the Chair. That was in 1984. Was it later in The Forest Park Hotel? Anyway it was back to the hall in 2009. It is hard to believe that it is 7 years ago. Last year it was in Kilmore. It was very hard to actually find out in the media that it will be in Ballinameen on Friday 16th. Even the Ballinameen GAA notes do not mention it.
Sunday Independent Sports Attack
The slashing of Joe Brolly by The Sunday Independent columnist Tommy Conlon last Sunday was bizarre in its intensity. It was in response to Joe’s valid questioning of the GAA President’s suggestion that the national Flag and Anthem could be dispensed with as tokens of appeasement at some future time. Tommy Conlon would want to query his prescription.
Columnist Neil Francis will not be impressed either by the sympathetic suspension of England rugby captain, the karate kid, Dylan Hartley.
Sunday Independent’s Eamon Sweeney’s Critique on the RTE Sports Awards
Eamon Sweeney had a very critical look at the nominees for this year’s RTE’s Irish Sports Person of the Year awards and I agree with his analysis. He focuses mainly on the illogical omission of Gary O’Donovan and the relegation of his role in the Olympic silver win with his brother Paul. He talks of the restricted environment of GAA nominees in football, hurling, camogie and ladies football and the superior claims of Irish sports people who reach the heights against international opposition. He suggests a division in the awards between Irish National v Irish International achievements. I seem to remember the embarrassment of Henry Shevlin when he won the overall sports person award relegating international achievers. Eamon mentions the ‘senseless omission of McIlroy, Gary O’Donovan and Thomas Barr’. And rightly so, concluding with (if you vote) ‘vote for Paul O’Donovan you’ll be voting for Gary too’
I paste to here the list of nominees;
“The nominees for the RTÉ Sport Awards Sportsperson of the Year in association with Sport Ireland were announced on RTÉ Radio One.
Voting is now open to the public to choose who they want to win the top gong ahead of the awards ceremony presented by Darragh Maloney on RTÉ One at 9pm on Saturday December 17.
The full list of nominees is;
1. Seamus Callanan – The Sunday Game Hurler of the Year capped an incredible year by scoring 13 points to ensure Tipperary’s All Ireland victory.
2. Eoghan Clifford – Claimed a road cycling Gold and a track cycling bronze at his first Paralympic Games
3. Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal - Won Paralympic tandem cycling gold and silver medals
4. Brian Fenton – Dublin’s midfield general continued his phenomenal record of being unbeaten in a Dublin jersey
5. Carl Frampton – Became just the second ever Irishman ever to have held World Titles in two different weight classes
6. Denise Gaule – Denise added the Camogie Player of the Year Award to her first O’Duffy Cup
7. Jamie Heaslip – The World Rugby Player of the Year nominee was a colossus in Ireland’s victories over South Africa, New Zealand and Australia
8. Daryl Horgan – Dundalk’s magic man was the outstanding player in a truly outstanding team
9. Conor McGregor – The Notorious furthered his claim as Ireland’s most famous sportsman by stepping down a weight to claim his second UFC title
10. Annalise Murphy – Annalise came back from her London 2012 heartbreak to claim an Olympic Sailing Silver Medal in Rio
11. Paul O’Donovan – Added a World Championship Gold to the Olympic Silver he picked up with his brother (GARY) in Rio.
12. Bríd Stack – Bríd was named ladies footballer of the Year after picking up her 11th All Ireland medal.
You can vote online at rte.ie/sport or by text. Voting will close on Monday December 12, at 10am. (Not the charges on those tv texts. t.c.)
Nominees and voting details for both the Team of the Year and Manager of the Year awards will be announced later.
Slan for now …..any comments etc. firstname.lastname@example.org