Friday, June 10, 2016

Update 10th June

End of Year Examinations

As the glorious summer weather of recent days, weeks even, beat down, thousands of young people are engaged in end of term examinations. The class tests are not too important really just a signpost on progress or the lack of it. It bookends the year. The State Examinations are the real deal. Even the sound of State Examinations has a ring tone to it that induces a certain shiver of concern. There is a reward which I will refer to a little later. It depends where this paragraph goes. In  the last week the ‘examination advice industry’ has been in overdrive in the media. Get rest, take short walks, practise breathing exercises, be on time. Do not let some hiccup in the morning paper colour your afternoon performance. It is your grand national and as a jockey responded to the question; ‘Which national fence do you fear the most? ‘Always the next one’.   Answer to the question. Do not answer to a question you wished had been asked. Turn over all the pages. There are books on the subject. 
Wednesday starts with English paper 1, the 2 hour 20 minute marathon. Still it is better than the double English, two marathons, as it used to be. At least in English there has to be something you can have a good go at and feel that, maybe I did ok there. Thursday there is English paper 2 the real marathon from 2 until 5.20, three hours and twenty minutes. A quick agitated flick through the paper, heart pacing to see if one of my ‘three poets’ appear. If that does not happen I will not be ‘waving but drowning’.  Coming out you massage your fingers to try and straighten them and get the blood flowing to the extremities again. Still by Friday there is a real indent into the whole programme. A job begun and all that. A week end to prepare for the Gaeilge, paper 1 Monday and on to the steeplechase on Tuesday.
‘Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday and all is well’.
Why have I engaged in a paragraph about those testing days, which I could/should have done better with? It is really because I forever remember an essay by A.A.Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh. It was called ‘The Best Half Hours of Life’. The writer wrote about the half hours on the day of the summer holidays from boarding school. Maybe there is a reader who remembers those lovely hours as one waited for the final bell of term in those relaxing last hours when happiness prevailed.
As the current Leaving Cert. examinations come to a close the students will gradually see the end-line and then the joyous vista of a long broad indulgent summer. The sword of September will hang no longer over the last weeks of August. Perhaps it is on later to the giddy days of ‘third level’. But that is in the future. This will be a unique summer like no other, a worthy compensation for your present endeavours. Enjoy.   

The death Muhammad Ali 
I doubt if there can ever be another sportsman who could become as well known and revered as Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Many of the week-end papers had ‘Supplements’ as tributes to the great man. He was a man of courage inside and outside the ring as when he resisted being drafted into the army of the United States and refusing to go to Vietnam. He was close to being imprisoned for this and was vilified by a large section of conservative society in the States. This resulted in him not boxing for a number of his potentially best years. If he had many critics in his home country he also had huge support there especially from the marginalised coloured community and internationally he became an icon.  
One of the challenges for great sportsmen or indeed not so great sportsmen is how their lives unfold after they retire from their sport. One of the interesting comments on Ali that I empathised with was that after his boxing glory days were over he became an icon of humanity as he battled the challenge of his Parkinson’s illness  with great dignity. He did not hide with it. He was not embarrassed to show that the once great athlete was mortal and vulnerable to ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ as the Bard wrote. We remember Ali in the ring ‘float like a butterfly sting like a bee’  but his appearance at two events during his illness stand out. The first was when he lit the torch at the opening of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia the USA in 1996 and the second was his presence at the Special Olympics in Croke Park in 2003.
I remember when he first fought Sonny Liston in 1964. Liston was regarded as unbeatable but Clay, as he was then, defeated Liston in their first fight in the seventh round. My dad followed boxing and when the rematch came it was to be broadcast live on radio. I presume it was Radio Eireann. Dad and I got up for the 3am fight. We  arranged the fire, tea and trimmings, settling down to listen to the fight on the radio. However just after two minutes the fight was all over as Liston hit the canvas from what was later described as a ‘phantom’ blow to the head. If one watches that fight on film today it is hard to understand how it could have resulted in a knock-out of Liston. This led to all kinds of innuendos of cheating.  In any event it established the young Cassius Clay as the supreme heavyweight.
For my dad and I it was a very short but memorable sojourn into the birth of the legend that was Cassius Clay later Muhammad Ali.  

  Bus Link  to Roscommon–The Challenge

It is good –maybe I could have stretched to great there-to see a bus link between Boyle and Roscommon. The N 61 road between Boyle and Roscommon is the backbone of the county. Like so many people I have travelled that road innumerable times. Much formal and recreational business is carried on in the ‘county’ town as we all know.
The challenge now is in usage of the bus link service in terms of numbers using it. The route starts/ends in Lough Key Forest Park, travels via Elphin, Strokestown and Tulsk to Roscommon with a ‘hail and ride’ concession along the route, calling at Roscommon Hospital and Railway station. The service is ‘free’ to current holders of free travel passes and students and young people get reduced fares. There are three return services each day, seven days per week. McKenna Transport are the operators from Boyle. The whole system is part of TFI ‘Transport For Ireland’. 
The challenge like all service challenges is in optimising its full potential. This can only be done by a concerted education and publicity campaign as to the schedules and what it offers to potential users. Perhaps a leaflet drop with a timetable, which people can park, would be helpful.
I see that in this week’s Roscommon Herald Ciara McCaughley did her publicity bit with a two page spread on pages 26/27. There is also a full page ad. on page 19.
For full details call 071 965 0437  or visit ‘’. So I encourage people who might use the service and those for whom it would be helpful to make themselves aware of its schedules and see what it has to offer.          

Computer Sessions-Free
Boyle Men’s Shed are offering a basic computer course in The Family Life Centre on Wednesday afternoons from 2.30 to 4.30 pm. Sessions are for those who would like to learn the basics of computer usage in Internet, email, Skype and so on. The sessions are open to men and women of any age. Some laptops are provided but you can bring your own. You are asked to phone the centre on 071 9663000 to book a slot. I know that many senior people have got to grips with computers and it has provided them with a wondrous window on the world where they can connect with family and friends and broaden their horizons no end. Basic internet skill is the present not the future.  

                                                                                                                                                               Sports Review

Roscommon v Sligo
On Sunday next Roscommon take on Sligo in the second round of the Connacht Championship. Last year Roscommon were hot favourites to overcome Sligo but failed to do so in one of the big upsets of the championships. Indeed Sligo have done this a number of times to Roscommon especially when Roscommon have been favourites. While Roscommon defeated Cavan afterwards last year, a second defeat, to Fermanagh, was a real shocker for Roscommon and led to the end of John Evan’s term in charge.
This year the mantra ‘forewarned is forearmed’ should cement a more cautious approach and I would expect Roscommon to advance to a Connacht final. While I may not have been ‘out and about’ in terms of identifying much pre-match ‘hype’ it seems to be a very quiet approach this year with everybody. Sligo of course will use last year’s victory as a motivation to their side. So all will be revealed on Sunday evening next at Hyde Park with the game commencing at 4 pm. Best wishes to all involved in terms of players and management.

Friday am. Club Rossie supporters received the following update regarding Sunday:

“After training last night Joint Managers Kevin McStay and Fergal O'Donnell announced the panel to play Sligo. This is the last game to be played on the original Hyde Park pitch which is being replaced this summer after almost 45 years of service to Roscommon GAA.

The team shows one change from the team that beat Leitrim in Carrick on Shannon last month. Senán Kilbride returns to replace Diarmuid Murtagh who is unavailable due to injury. The panel in full is as follows:

1 Geoffrey Claffey, Castlerea St. Kevin’s.

2 Sean McDermott, Western Gaels.
3 Neil Collins, St. Brigid’s, Castle knock.
4 Niall McInerney, St Brigid’s.

5 John McManus, Roscommon Gaels.
6 Sean Purcell, Boyle.
7 David Murray, Padraig Pearse's.

8 Niall Daly, Padraig Pearse’s.
9 James McDermott, Roscommon Gaels.

10 Fintan Cregg, Elphin.
11 Ciaran Murtagh (C), St. Faithleach's.
12 Conor Devaney, Kilbride.

13 Senan Kilbride, St. Brigid’s.
14 Cathal Cregg, Western Gaels.
15 Donie Shine, Clann na nGael.

16 Darren O’Malley, Michael Glavey's.
17 Cathal Compton, Strokestown.
18 Cathal Shine, Clann na nGael.
19 David Keenan, St Barry’s.
20 Donie Smith, Boyle.
21 Enda Smith, Boyle.
22 Fergal Lennon, Clann na nGael.
23 Niall Carty, Padraig Pearse’s.
24 Niall Kilroy, Fuerty.
25 Sean Mullooly, Strokestown.
26 Thomas Corcoran, Strokestown.

Twelve months ago Sligo beat Roscommon in Markievicz Park and only six of last year’s starters against Sligo will start on Sunday. They include Sean Mc Dermott who plays his 151th game for Roscommon, Neil Collins, Niall Daly, Cathal Cregg, Senán Kilbride and Captain, Ciaráin Murtagh

Seven players Ronan Stack, Ciarain Cafferkey, Cian Connolly, Ian Kilbride, Ultan Harney, Diarmuid Murtagh and Cathal McHugh were not considered for selection due to injury”. 
Two of the Daly brothers are also gone to the States.

Last Sunday’s Games

It is something to see the decline of one of the great GAA counties of recent times. Down were convincingly beaten by Monaghan on Sunday last and looked a pale shadow of previous Down teams. We saw this also in the league v Roscommon in Longford! Monaghan would be one of the counties that many neutrals would love to see emerge but while impressive in Ulster they have not followed through at Croke Park. Perhaps this year will be better as they looked good last Sunday.
Another team neutrals would wish to see do well is Waterford. They also looked impressive on Sunday last in their win over a disappointing Clare side. Waterford seem to have a lot of the basic ingredients necessary in this team from great defence to some powerful forwards. They are being touted as real contenders in a year when there is no really great side like the Kilkenny of a few years ago.
A disappointing feature for the GAA of the games this sunny summer seems to be the smaller crowds which are attending. If the mood that seems to exist regarding Sligo and Roscommon is accurate this could extend to that game also.
P.S. I have received a very good submission on restructuring the championship fixtures to give a regular timetable and help the position of ordinary club players who are hobbled by the participation of the ‘county team’. I will present this anon.

Euros 2016

A festival of soccer begins on Friday night with standout games of interest for us when England play  Russia on Saturday at 8 and of course Ireland v Sweden on Monday at 5. Irish people will also be keeping up to date with other games in our group such as Belgium v Italy also on Monday at 8. Thursday is the next day of interest with England v Wales, Northern Ireland v Ukraine  and Germany v Poland providing a full day’s work ! On Friday the 17th  Italy play Sweden with Ireland’s second game on the Saturday v Belgium at 2.
Personally, from the little I know, I think this a weak Irish team with a number of competent players but no real stars. Our group opposition include one of the favourite teams in Belgium while Sweden has one of the real stars in Zlatan Ibrahimović and Italy, while not the great side of yore, are always formidable opposition. While the Irish starting eleven looks competitive the game against Belarus showed that the back-up eleven are not too hot. But then of course surprises are what makes the games magnetic and hope springs eternal. Disappointment, elation and all the emotions will surface so hopefully it will provide some great sporting moments especially for the many thousands of Irish supporters who have gone to France.  

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