Friday, August 26, 2016

Update 27th August

Preview Notices
1.     The Sports Complex, Boyle, Co. Roscommon will play host to the fourth and final round of the M. Donnolly GAA Interprovincial Wheelchair Hurling League on this Saturday 27th August from 10am for the first time that an All-Ireland Wheelchair Hurling event will be hosted in Co. Roscommon. Barry Lowe of Boyle is the Roscommon delegate on the Connacht GAA Games for All Committee and is responsible for co-ordinating this Wheelchair Hurling Interprovincial event in Boyle. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
2.     Boyle Seniors play Clann na nGael on Saturday evening at 6.45 at St. Croan's pitch outside Ballintubber in the final group game.
3.     Nice to see the re-introduction of camogie to Boyle and the positivity of its promoters ‘We are here to stay’!

When one thinks of the current issues causing frustration and pain in this country at the moment the list would include:

1• Homelessness and the many other linkages to the idea of ‘a home’. The lack of availability of ‘homes’ for social provision, for access for people to purchase, cost and availability especially in urban areas such as Dublin, Galway, Cork and so on. There is also the huge issue of student accommodation availability and cost at this time.
2•  Utility costs….motor insurance spiralling, rising at the incredible average rate of 38% due, it is said by Aviva, to the number of claims, the excessive awards, legal costs, regulation, levies for past company failures, fraudulent claims and so on. We usually concentrate on how it effects ordinary motor customers but it is a huge issue now for business with regard to haulage of goods and will probably see businesses having to close down due to this cost. Another group who are being denied a fairly basic right, the right to drive a car, are young people who are being quoted extraordinary amounts for cover.
3•  Child care costs for working parents of young children. There have been some advances in provision in recent years but crèche costs are like another mortgage.  
4•  Is it in our genetic make-up that we are hucksters when we see currently the ticket issue at the Olympics. We had the greatest manifestation of this in the banking scandal and the disgraceful activities of the top echelons of nearly the whole banking industry.
5• The ongoing battle between two gangs in Dublin with the police effort to fire-fight it costing the tax payers of the country millions. The prevalence of drugs and the seeming tolerance of its use on public streets in say Dublin as one walks from Connolly Station to O’Connell Street

II’ve said this before, we live in a small country and we should be able to get to grips, to a better extent, with the issues of our time.  

The Rio Olympics Fallout
I am recovering from the withdrawal symptoms of watching a lot of the coverage of the Rio Olympics. It is being overshadowed somewhat by the Pat Hickey and OCI affair just now and it will be interesting to see how that develops. There is the possibility that there is a local police/political agenda in Hickey’s crucifixion and that the necessary evidence to convict Mister Hickey is not there or will not emerge. If that is the case then he has got a raw deal in Brazil and in the publicity about him here in Ireland and will be a very traumatised man after it all. There is a good chance that it will run into the sand.
Former Olympian and analyst Gerry Kiernan was pretty dismissive of the role and impact of officialdom at OCI on athletes in their preparation and mind-set. Of course when an athlete wins they will emerge like peacocks to shine in the reflected aura of the winner. Justification of existence is a huge sport in this country and happens on many levels.

The Absence of Pele
For whatever reason the absence of Brazil’s most famous sportsman, Pele, from Olympic ceremonies was sad. It is suggested that  since several of his commercial backers — sandwich chain Subway, watchmaker Hublot and credit card company MasterCard — are rivals of official Olympic sponsors McDonald's, Omega and Visa that that had a bearing on his absence. Also that he was recovering from illness. Still If one cast their eyes back to Atlanta and Muhammad Ali, riven with Parkinson’s, doing the honours and again being present at the Special Olympics at Crooke Park I really feel that Pele would have been there but for particular pressures. The very late substitution for the flame lighting ceremony was  Vanderlei de Lima who was disrupted by an Irish priest based in London while leading the marathon in Athens in 2004.

Ticket Issues in other Sports
In terms of tickets there was an interesting snippet by ‘Sam’ page 3 of the Roscommon Herald Sports insert regarding seeing tickets being sold prior to a GAA game in Croke Park by what might be termed a GAA worthy. Personally, while I have been a follower of the GAA all my life though not in a core position, I have never encountered any official with a ‘bundle’ of tickets for dubious sale. Where money shuffles around there is always the capacity for abuse of course. Over ten years ago Roscommon GAA got into severe financial difficulties which were soothed by a huge gesture of generosity by John Murphy of Castlerea with a loan of one million euro. How Roscommon got into that financial chasm I have no idea and it was never fully explained that I am aware of. All of the people involved seemed like honourable men and the GAA being a community where ‘everybody knew everybody’ the hard questions may not have been asked. It is only with independent oversight committees that appropriate governance has a reasonable chance though the record of the bank auditors such as Ernst and Young would not be reassuring!

GAA Attempt to Drift Towards Professionalism
Then in the GAA there is a drift to professionalism and semi-professional in terms of the number of paid employees, coaches and managers. The latter group have, morphed in recent years into huge ‘back-up’ teams with varied roles. It is suggested that Dublin have in the mid- twenties in this role with their senior team and that Roscommon this past year had a very large number also. All these have to ‘looked after’ by whatever avenues of ‘expenses’ payment often by circular routes. At club level when a club has ambitions this is backed up with the employment of an outside ‘team manager’ with a credible record. Fundraising now has become the bane of club activity, the same people doing it and the same people, in general, supporting these efforts. It has been so since the sixpences and shillings of the fifties but can clubs sustain these corrosive efforts?  I do not know how it can be addressed or redressed but it is certainly a major burden on the core group of club officials.       

Marathon TV
I thought I had seen enough of marathons and then our main television channel, RTE 1, saw fit to transmit on Monday and Tuesday night, 3 hours each night of the Rose of Tralee with 64 (?) young ladies a loitering. Now the Rose of Tralee is not my scene and how a festival committee has the power to influence RTE to spend 6 hours of programming (accepting that a couple of hours or more were ads) away from Dublin is something. Then to add to that I kinda heard that ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ was voted the ‘best’ comedy of the 21st century (just 16 years)which with the Rose of Tralee induced the lead line from the Aslan anthem to come into my head; 
“How can i protect you (myself) in this crazy world”.

                                                                                                                                            Sports Review

Three Standing in Football
On Sunday last Mayo again qualified for the All-Ireland final by beating Tipperary in a very poor game. Poor games and very poor games have been the menu of Gaelic football this summer and it is becoming tedious. It has been left to hurling to raise the bar of excitement and real competitive flair. I hope, of course, that Mayo win that All-Ireland at last and each year seems to be at about the same level of possibility. But they would want to get on with it as our patience is thinning. The team seems to me to have about ten very good players but the tail lets them down and to win an All-Ireland final there needs to be a full squad. There is  definition of insanity somewhere that goes roughly; ‘doing the same thing, the same way, over and over again and expecting a different outcome’.
(The referee with his Black Card had me exacerbated on Sunday last and that Black Card malarkey has to be binned. The sending off of the Tipp. centre back had a big bearing on Sunday’s game. What about the ‘sin bin’ as used in Rugby, Hockey and Basketball?) 

Sunday next has the prospect of being a full-blooded encounter between Dublin and Kerry. Each of these teams have more good players than any other county and Dublin have arrived where Kilkenny were a few years with ‘two’ teams. The general expectation is that Dublin will win but Kerry are the one team brand that can be relied on to defy the odds.

The Cats v Tipp.
The All-Ireland hurling final between Tipperary and Kilkenny has the possibility of being a cracker. I was surprised that Tipp. struggled and did not look great against Galway and Kilkenny will miss the great Michael Fennelly. The Kilkenny conveyor belt is not as it has been though young Blanchfield did well in that second great game against Waterford. While there have been a number of very good hurling games this summer the quality of the teams is down a good deal on previous years. I really hope that Waterford maintain their upward curve and take the Liam McCarthy Cup next year.

Camogie In Boyle
It is interesting to see the re-introduction of camogie in Boyle with young girls. There was a camogie senior team in Boyle circa 1970 that I am aware of. Mary Travers correspondent with The Roscommon Herald and Christine O’Callaghan were involved with that team.   It is a regret of mine that I did not make an effort to get hurling going in this area as Bob Carr and P.J. Keane had done shortly before I came here.   


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