Thursday, September 29, 2016

Update 30th September

• The film ‘The siege of Jadotville’ will be screened in Carrick for just one week from Friday Sept. 30th to Thursday October 6th at 7 pm.

• The world looks on, the U.N. demonstrates its classic ineptitude, as another siege and destructive bombardment continues. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, die and a biblical city is destroyed. This is the fate of Aleppo in Northern Syria.

• On page 20 of this week’s Roscommon People there is a telling letter by a mother that travels from ordinary life via worry for her son, to hope following intervention from Roscommon Mental Health services.

Big Games National and Local

Mayo v Dublin
It is a busy week-end on the sporting front this week-end with the replay of the All-Ireland Football Final between Dublin and Mayo being the national star event.  I addressed this in the best way I could last week. Will Dublin improve and play with the confidence and style that we have come to expect from them? If they do then they will be firm favourites to achieve the two in a row. However if Mayo can unhinge their confidence as they did near two weeks ago then it will be another battle. I imagine that Mayo will be going out with a huge determination to get over the line this time. That determination rocked Dublin in the drawn game and demonstrated that Dublin are not unbeatable. Both teams will hope to improve on the deficits that surfaced the last day as is always the hope in a replay. For Dublin it will be much improved performances from many more of their so called stars, better accuracy from their free-taker and an overall improvement in terms of matching Mayo’s intensity and desire. For Mayo it is to repeat their intensity from the off, not let Dublin settle and get an early rhythm, that Aidan O’Shea -their talisman- makes a much better positive impact. They need him to do that. That they cope better with the class of Fenton at midfield.
There is also the possibility of very heated atmosphere and the players who can cope best with this will also have an advantage. There is a strong possibility that a number of players will see the line if the cauldron boils over. The loss of Liam McHale in the game against Meath in ’96 probably cost Mayo an All-Ireland win then. In that scenario referee Maurice Deegan and his officials will be very important to the quality and progress of the game and indeed to the eventual result.   
Hopefully there will be a window of decent weather and that the elements and slippery surface will not degrade the quality of the game. All in all it has the potential to be an intriguing affair but no one really can foretell what way it will develop. I still believe that Dublin have the most quality players in their extended panel which with black cards could go down to number 22/23.
I hope that Mayo will eventually capture that elusive prize for the first time since ’51.

Roscommon County Semi-Finals

Boyle v St. Brigid’s in Strokestown Sunday at 4.30
 Boyle have proved the surprise packet in this year’s Roscommon senior championship following three fine victories over Roscommon Gaels, Clan na nGael and St. Faithleach’s. In these games Boyle played a lot of scintillating football and their performance over reigning champions Clann was particularly impressive. Obviously Michael Jordan and Cian Smith have got their charges fine-tuned at this stage and they will need to be at their very best since their opponents on Sunday are the dominant Roscommon club team of the last  decade, that is St. Brigid’s. They will bring to this game a wealth of experience and a large number of well -known top players. These would include the Kilbride brothers Senan and Ian, Karol Mannion, the Stack brothers, McHugh and perhaps their manager Frankie Dolan.
Boyle have a number of experienced players also including Sean Purcell, Roch Hanmore, the Smith brothers Donal and Enda with team captain Tadgh McKenna. The emergence of a number of promising young players has added the pace and cutting edge, especially in scoring terms, as they have ran up big totals in their previous games.
It is a big occasion for the team and the club as Boyle have not contested a semi-final since 1927 which is remarkable. Hopefully the town support will get on board and travel in numbers to Strokestown on Sunday.
(Congratulations to Boyle U 12s’ on their impressive win over Roscommon Gaels at a windswept Fuerty on Sunday last in the League Final.) 

The Ryder Cup Golf-International
 While I am not a big advocate of golf I watch it from time to time. Along with the major tournaments especially when there are Irish players involved the Ryder Cup has provided some of the most exciting moments in sport over the past twenty five years or so. Since the battle of Kiawah Island in ’91 Europe have won 8 jousts to 4 for the U.S. These include some very comprehensive wins as at Oaklands, U.S. and the K Club in ’04 and ’06 by 9 points. Europe have won the last three meetings last year’s being at Gleneagles in Scotland when the team captain was Paul McGinley. Indeed the Irish contribution for such a small country has been immense and has provided some of the memorable moments, one being the shot by Christy O’Connor Jnr. In ’89.
The competition was dominated by the U.S. for many decades since its inception in the late twenties. One of its stalwarts was the great Arnold Palmer who passed away this week.
On paper the U.S. again seem to be much stronger but the paper model has not always carried through. The venue for this week-ends match is Hazeltine National Golf Club located in a suburb so of Minneapolis, Minnesota. So hopefully the event will again provide similar drama as has been the case for previous encounters. There is a lot of pride at stake and the U.S. are at home with a partisan crowd made even more partisan following the huge mistake of Danny Willett’s brother in his blog insulting American golf supporters.

So after the Boyle v St. Brigid’s game on Sunday evening it is another long day’s journey into the night watching more drama from the States. It keeps giving.                              

European Team Captain -Darren Clarke
 Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Spain)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (England)
Sergio García (Spain)
Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
Justin Rose (England)
Andy Sullivan (England)
Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
Danny Willett (England)
Chris Wood (England)

The captain’s picks
Lee Westwood (England)
Martin Kaymer (Germany
Thomas Pieters (Belgium)

Captain: Davis Love III/Dustin Johnson/Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed/ Jimmy Walker/ Brooks Koepka/ Brandt Snedeker/ Zach Johnson/ Phil Mickelson
The captain’s picks
JB Holmes/ Rickie Fowler/ Matt Kuchar/  Ryan Moore.

Trump v Clinton T.V. Debate
I stayed up, prepared, and watched the first U.S. Presidential debate and it was worth it. There were no real disasters by either candidate but the general consensus was that Hillary Clinton ‘won’ the debate and there were suggestions that Donald Trump was not as prepared as he should have been. The debate was ‘moderated’ by Lester Holt who I thought did a good job and like any good referee let the game flow a bit. I see today that there are conspiracy theories regarding a small box-like outline inside Clinton’s jacket! Also Trump complained about the ‘harder’ questions Lester Holt asked him and the quality of his microphone!
The view is that outside the dedicated support base of each candidate that many people are deciding on the lesser of two undesirable candidates for the Presidency. Neither candidate floats my boat and it is a real question as to why the election for the most powerful political position in the western world comes down to two candidates who start off from such low bases of popularity and distrust. Apparently Hillary Clinton is intensely disliked (I don’t want to use the word ‘hated’) by a large section of the U.S. voting public . Trump is seen by many as a disastrous candidate whose term will be a white water ride for the people of the U.S. and internationally. Even in the debate he took shots at important allies like Japan and South Korea. It is being suggested that Mister Trump will have a high profile ‘team’ of advisors which will guard against extreme actions. An element of this process that came to my mind is that this hugely influential group have no electoral or people’s mandate, just the imprimatur of the President. Of course Congress will be another restraining influence.
   Some people in the U.S. might be surprised and ask why people outside the U.S. are getting so engaged in following the current drama. It is because the result has universal ramifications. When I tuned in the early morning to the U.K. Referendum result I was really shocked at the result with the added possibility of Boris Johnson as a Prime Minister.  Maybe it is my nature to fret. The election of Donald Trump may not shock people- because it is a real possibility- but it will really worry millions of people in the U.S. and also internationally.
Like the U.K. Referendum a close result should (!) awaken the political establishment as to their lack of engagement and care for large swathes of their population who see themselves as abandoned by the political system and are now kicking that system, as with so many in the poorer unemployed white community. The coloured and Latino communities had their time in electing Barack Obama but that did not work out as a salvation. It is ironic that the deprived white community see some possible salvation in the billionaire Donald Trump.
There are two more debates, the first on Sunday October 9th and then on Wednesday October 19th.  While the health of the candidates has been queried the incredibly prolonged campaign to become President is a real test of that. It is no wonder that there are few wobbles along the way.  

Japanese Knotweed an emerging environmental and monetary threat
And now for something completely different! I had not heard of this species of invasive plant until very recently but like buses none appear for a long time and then three arrive almost together. Down the years there have been reference to the rhododendron expansion in Killarney national park and the battle to contain it. Rhododendron has now been joined by Japanese Knotweed. Apparently it is a fiercely invasive and dangerous species. It is dangerous in the fact that it can spread at a real speed and can do damage on various levels. It is growing along roadsides and its root system can cross under roads to the opposite side. It can emerge via cracks and can infuse tarmac and indeed concrete via the smallest cracks. Cutting the ‘weed’ only encourages its growth and it can grow vertically and underground at speed. It is prevalent in counties Cork and Galway but its spread makes it national issue. In areas there are signs erected by County Councils urging people NOT to engage in cutting or interfering with the ‘weed’ because doing so can make matters worse. There are a growing  number of specialist companies emerging who have the expertise to deal with treating this threat appropriately. Even then there is no easy fix solution as it can require proper treatment over a number of seasons to eradicate and this can be very expensive.
I imagine that a process of education in terms of ‘knotweed’ recognition and protocols will emerge.  Perhaps papers like ‘The Farmer’s Journal’ have already highlighted the possible economic threat that this poses. It cost €80 million to clear the core site for the London Olympics of this hazard.  

I am not at all qualified to say too much about this issue but I am mentioning it for local awareness. In this age the ready initial source of information is available if you Google the title.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Update 23rd September

The Drawn All-Ireland Final

Last Sunday’s All-Ireland Final was a surreal (dictionary definition =  strange; not seeming real; like a dream) roller-coaster of a game. Dublin will ask; how did we play so bad? Perhaps they played as well as they were let! Perhaps many in Mayo will be feeling that it is the classic Mayo syndrome of a ‘missed opportunity’. As the psychiatrist said to his colleague on vacating Fawlty Towers ‘there is material for a whole conference here’.

Dublin cannot, one imagines, play so poorly again in terms of scoring , time lapses between scores, star players having miserable games, being at times so disorganised and clueless, their shape, organisation temperament being frazzled. At times they were ‘not waving but drowning’ being kept on life support by Mayo own goals.
In fairness to Mayo they came back from the near death at least twice. They put themselves in the driving seat at one time, into the second half, after coming back from Dublin’s first half lead but did not continue when Dublin were is real distress. Also to Mayo’s credit  they were the team that came with the late spurt of three points, in extra time, to send the game to a replay. It is as well that this happened otherwise it would be remembered as a poor, weird game. Had Dublin won it would have a very unsatisfactory victory. The confused reaction of both sets of supporters at the end of the game represented the GUBU nature of it all. This is also represented in these lines!

Part Two: The Replay Another Battle

In replay terms the odds are again on Dublin but their experience in the drawn game has to have given them a shock and reality check. They will set out to rectify their mistakes here of course but if Mayo can unsettle them again early in the game the famed Dublin confidence could be fragile. It could hardly happen this time that the Dubs will get two freak gift goals. A number of Dublin star names possibly showed that they were near their career end especially Bernard Brogan. Again the Dublin substitutes contributed well. The less familiar Mayo names  did likewise. Two Dublin players Small and Fenton were ‘man of the match’ contenders as were Vaughan and Cillian O’Connor for Mayo.  

Mayo will have learned too and they will again go into the game to make a battle of it and as the drawn game demonstrated this can damage Dublin. One of the fights of the battle will be between Keegan of Mayo and Connolly of Dublin. A lot of eyes will be on this pair from the off the next day and the possibility exists that one, or more likely both, will get their marching orders early. There will be no advantage to either side by this. Also Aidan O’Shea will have to enable himself to make a real positive contribution as his was a scatty performance in the drawn game capped with two awful long range kicks towards goal at the end. He will have to accept the robust attention he is sure to encounter and hope that the referee will deal with the o.t.t. stuff. The referee for the replay, Maurice  Deegan, was on the line on Sunday and so will be familiar with the legacy issues that will surely carry into the next game. Occasionally the expectations of a hurly burly encounter do not materialise and a reasonable game results. I do not think this will be in Mayo’s interests so I see them as risking more in terms of the analytic spake ‘who wants it more’. Mayo certainly showed they wanted it more last Sunday.
The questions are can Dublin be so poor again and can Mayo maintain the intensity of the drawn game? I felt that Dublin would win last Sunday but now I’m not so sure.
Hopefully Mayo will bring the same aggression and passion to the replay and when one considers the physicality of rugby or American football the Gaelic football boundaries are not rigid and consider what the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly said "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." It is such a prize for Mayo and its people and those who wish it so that it deserves an almighty effort which I believe will be given.
 I don’t know if there is a singer in the Mayo panel but if there is there is room –if they win – to emulate the late great Joe McDonagh of Galway from 1980 with a verse of the great Western anthem ‘The West’s Awake.’   

·        I have criticised the ‘BLACK CARD’ a number of times here and it is a serious issue that has to be addressed and it has to be binned. The ‘black card’ is frustrating players and observers a great deal, The McCarthy ‘black card’ was debateable, perhaps a yellow was more appropriate. Aidan O’Shea should have at least a yellow card. Daragh McCauley should have been sent off escaping with two big fouls one a hand trip and second a ‘clothes line tackle’ that possibly merited a ‘red’ on its own.
·        I presume there is a reason for having the replay on a Saturday (maybe interfering with county championship games) but it is not clear. It has the potential for mayhem traffic-wise with a bus strike. Another issue is that by the time the game is over the last long distance trains west will be gone for example Dublin to Westport 6.30. I still feel that having the game on Saturday is questionable.
·        The search is now on for tickets. Tickets are usually more accessible for replays and since there is no minor game that should free up 4/5 thousand tickets.
·        Longford County Council made a name for itself by removing some roadside signs wishing  ‘Good Luck to Mayo’. That shows some local authority efficiency! Give it a break. 

Abbey Community College ‘Class Act’

Perhaps it is initial enthusiasm with the start of the new school year but Abbey Community College had a good news profile in this week’s Roscommon Herald ‘Class Act’ schools section. I was taken with Ethan Beirne’s account of his visit to a First World War battlefield where the Connacht Rangers were involved at Guillemont. A number of Ethan’s forbears were amongst the 126 men from the Boyle area who were killed in W.W. 1 and the army tradition has been passed down to Ethan’s family with his dad also serving in the Irish army. It was a very good and well written short account of a memorable visit for him. These second level school pages give prospective young writers a public platform which I am sure they will be pleased with.
A couple of weeks ago Gerry Boland had a considered profile, in question and answer format, of an established Boyle writer Patrick Chapman who was student at St. Mary’s College. I was one of his teachers and I remember a science fiction essay of his confusing me as to its merits. I imagine it was very good. I liked the answer to the question asked by Patrick of his English teacher as to; ‘Why (Oscar) Wilde had been imprisoned?’ to which the teacher answered ‘tax reasons’.   

The Siege of Jadotville The Congo 1961

Boyle Connections

Continuing on the army theme but fast forwarding to the 1960s’ when the Irish army provided a number of troops for peace-keeping missions abroad starting with the Belgian Congo in the early sixties. Amongst the memorable incidents of this initial campaign was the ambush at Niemba of 1960 where nine Irish soldiers lost their lives. Another was the siege of Jadotville which began in September ‘61 where an Irish army garrison of 157 was surrounded and after a week’s long battle had to give up their arms being vastly outnumbered and lacking supplies. It appears as if this action cast a shadow over the role of these men subsequently and it took a long time for due recognition to be paid to them. Last Saturday the soldiers of Jadotville were remembered and honoured at Costume Barracks, Athlone as most of them came from this region.  Amongst those present were  members of the Tiernan family from Boyle including Mary Tiernan wife of one of the soldiers of Jadotville, George or Georgie as he is remembered in Boyle. Indeed it was a busy and varied few days for Mary as the Saturday event at Athlone followed the Friday wedding in Dublin of her grandson David to Miss Becky Lee and on Monday Mary returned to Dublin to attend the premiere of the Netflix film ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ starring Jamie Dornan as Cdt. Pat Quinlan the commander of ‘A’ Company 35th Battalion who were at Jadotville. Perhaps the film can be shown locally in Carrick and we can learn more of that fateful event.      

‘Ireland the Autobiography’ by John Bowman

I heard a review of this book subtitled ‘Eyewitness accounts of Irish Life since 1916’  on the Sean O’Rourke programme over the week end. It is a compilation of notable speeches, essays and recorded verbal accounts by a broad spectrum of Irish people over the century. I’ll quote two short extracts one by Brendan O hEithir, who I met a few times in Galway, and the second from a radio address by Eamon de Valera while Taoiseach from the late 30s’.  

“The late Brendán Ó hEithir tells a delightful anecdote from 1943, as reproduced from his iconic GAA memoir, Over the Bar. The (Cavan town based) Traveller Billy Doonan was en route to Monte Cassino (Italy) as a British Army radio operator when he went missing one Sunday. His comrades in the unit wondered about this, it was unlikely that he could have been shot, as there was a lull in hostilities. Eventually Doonan, who was described as `a natural footballer' by Ó hEithir  was found. "He was up a tree on the side of  a steep hill and he seemed to be in a trance," writes Ó hEithir  mischievously, as only he could. Doonan had discovered the ideal listening post to hear the Roscommon v Cavan All-Ireland Football Final, as relayed from Croke Park”.

Eamon de Valera

"... The Ireland that we dreamed of would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy (comely) maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live. . . ."     

I will not get tangled up in commentary on Mister de Valera’s famous vision of an Irish Utopia.  

Boyle GAA: Two Fixtures

Boyle Juniors play Strokestown in Boyle on Sunday next at 12.
The really big upcoming game of course is the Senior Semi-Final v St. Brigid’s in Strokestown on Sunday October the 2nd at (note) 4.30.   

Roscommon GAA League Fixtures for 2017

Sunday, February 5th Tyrone v Roscommon (first mentioned team at home)/ Sunday, Feb. 12th Roscommon v Donegal/ Saturday, Feb. 25th Mayo v Roscommon/ Sunday, March 5th Roscommon v Kerry/ Sunday, March 19th Monaghan v Ros./ Sat. March 25th Dublin v Ros./ Sunday, April 2nd Ros. v Cavan.  That is seven games, three at home-hopefully on a good Hyde Park pitch -  and four away. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Update 16th September

Boyle’s McGovern Directional Drilling Sponsored GAA Senior Team for Semi-Final.

Boyle had a very decisive win in the senior championship quarter final at Kilglass on Sunday evening;  Boyle 3.15 St. Faithleach's 2.8. The half time score Boyle 1.11 St. Faithleach's 0.3. Boyle were playing with a very strong wind but still 11 points was a generous lead. Boyle are now through to the semi-final in which they will play St. Brigid's on October 2nd. Again there were great performances all-round. Boyle started in whirlwind style and a goal by Darren O'Connor after four minutes meant it was Boyle. 1.6 to Faille’s 0.1 after 6 minutes. Darren had forsook a wedding in Poland to be play and how he played. (He had also changed travel dates to Spain to play v Clann). An early second-half goal by Enda Smith followed by a penalty conversion from Dylan East on 8 minutes saw Boyle leading 3.11 to Faille’s 0.5. Despite a Faile’s penalty goal on 12 minutes it was really game over, barring a disaster. There were huge performances all over the field for Boyle as Faille’s were shell-shocked. Several contenders for 'Man of the Match' but I think that Michael O'Brien, reporting on the victory over Clann two weeks ago in the Roscommon Herald, got the essence of the team by giving it deservedly to 'THE (BOYLE) TEAM. The arrival on the scene of a number of serious young players bolstered by the veterans has resulted in Boyle getting to their first semi-final since 1927 when a Boyle team, 'mainly army' won the town's only Senior Championship. It was very nice to a see a big Boyle support present. So hopefully that will swell  for the semi-final and beyond. Congratulations and a huge well done to all involved.

*Success such as this does not come overnight so a group who deserve to be kept in mind are all the under-age coaches down the years and presently who create the building blocks for such teams. There are too many to mention and of course a very strong probability for omission.   

*The introduction of Ben Kerins meant that he is the third generation of the Kerins family to play senior football for Boyle following his grandfather Liam and his dad Sean. I feel that this is very rare. Perhaps the Feely family Henry, Barry and maybe Finbarr did likewise but I am not sure. Maybe there are others and of course I am open to suggestions.    

Meeting a former student Padraic Sweeney

After the Boyle game on Sunday night I indulged myself with a visit to The Moylurg Inn for a small celebratory analysis I suppose. Being a Sunday night it was a pretty restrained affair. However  I met a former student of mine who I had not met for some time. Padraic Sweeney from Termon, Boyle now lives in the lovely city of Sydney, Australia with his wife Sarah (O’Connor)and has done well for himself. He remembered when I was a teacher of his at St. Mary’s College and doing a little bit extra with him and of that being beneficial to him then and subsequently. It is a fairly rare occasion for former students to mention that a teacher has made a positive contribution to ones progress in life. The negatives often leave a deeper mark, scars maybe in some instances, and it is easier to be critical and I imagine there are a good few teachers who look back with regret for a too rigorous approach in their dealings with students. On the other side I don’t know if there are students who ever have qualms of conscience on how they interacted with some teachers!
Of course it is not just teachers who can give young people a lift but people in all walks of life. Guards, priests, doctors, sports coaches, bouncers, bus drivers; everyone will have these opportunities from time to time.
I remember once ‘thumbing’ home to Fuerty, from Galway on a country road outside Glenamaddy and  another student I barely knew passing me going in the opposite direction on a scooter. After a few hundred yards he stopped, turned and brought me some six miles or so to a more pivotal ‘thumbing’ point. As you can see I never forgot that small incident. ‘Thank you’ are two small words but they have a nice echo.
A more recent incident happened in going through a passport control and when my wife presented her passport and the officer scanned it he returned it with the greeting ‘Thank you Anne have a safe journey’. It was a simple but impressive introduction. * I’ll tell you the location of that incident further down, I’ll just let you mull over it for a minute or two.
If we think about it we will all remember kindnesses, big and small, bestowed on us and people coming to our assistance in times of need or stress. While I shy away from the idea of ‘we are better than others’ in things generally, the community structure in this country, especially in rural Ireland, lends itself to that  mind-set.

In any event meeting and talking to Padraic Sweeney on Sunday night was a very positive validation of what I happened to do then and importantly –as it was a two-way exercise-what Padraic bought into. So thank you too, Padraic for remembering and giving me a lift by relating same.

Mayo versus Dublin Again

Once more into the breach ….from Henry V.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'

Thus went the famous rallying battle-cry of Henry V.

Once again Mayo enter the lion’s den. I do not have the statistics to hand of how many times it is now, that Mayo have faced this last hurdle in the GAA championships since their last victory in 1951. There is a book  written by a fine journalist Keith Duggan titled ‘House of Pain: Through the Rooms of Mayo Football’. One can almost feel the hurt in the title. In that ’51 final Mayo defeated Meath to win their second final in a row.
 Mayo 2-8 Meath 0-9 (Croke Park, 23/9/1951).  MAYO: S Wynne; J Forde, P Prendergast, S Flanagan (Capt.); J Staunton, H Dixon, P Quinlan; E Mongey (0-1), J McAndrew; P Irwin (0-1), P Carney (0-5, four free), S Mulderrig; M Flanagan, T Langan (1-0), J Gilvarry (1-1).  Sub: L Hastings for Dixon.

*It was in checking a little for these lines that I came across the following. “55 years later Mayo players Willie Casey, Paddy Jordan and former GAA President Dr Mick Loftus (brother of Dr. Colm Loftus, Boyle)  belatedly received their All-Ireland senior football medals. Though squad members, they had not appeared as substitutes in the final and had initially been denied their medals”.

There is a legend of a famous curse in that a priest suggested that Mayo would never win another All-Ireland until all the members of the winning team of ’51 had passed away. That was supposedly because they had been disrespectful with their celebrations in the vicinity of a funeral. None of the team would ever give credence to that story. There are just two of that team still alive, the great full back Paddy Prendergast and the ‘flying doctor’ Padraig Carney. He got the appendage ‘flying’ as Mayo flew him back to Ireland from the U.S for a number of games and also from California to New York to join the team there for a U.S. tour.     

While they have lost so many times before what are their chances this time? Personally I feel that Mayo have often had around ten fine footballers on their team but have not had the full package. It looks a bit like that again this year with very good players in the O’Connors', O’Sheas', Keegan, Boyle, Higgins and so on but they have question marks too especially at full back. A given is that Mayo must not concede early goals and that they can extend the periods of very good play that we have seen in their previous games.   

The Dublin team not only have a fine starting team but are now in the position Kilkenny were a number of years ago in that they have up to ten recognisable substitutes. It is unfortunate that Mayo have come up against very good teams in their All-Ireland finals and this Dublin team is one of the best. I believe that Dublin will win and could win by a generous margin if the self-belief in Mayo wilts. Still there is the mantra that if you are not there you have no chance at all.  
Someday the gods will smile on Mayo and heaven’s gates will open. Then not only will Mayo people rejoice but most GAA people outside their immediate opposition will rejoice with them. It could even be Sunday.   

Pre-Match Handshake

The teams lining up to give the opposition a pre-match handshake has been a pretty recent appendage. It is in the manner of ‘give respect get respect’ and sportsmanship et al. Personally I think that it is a false distraction for players who can rarely have any belief in it. It got a jolt on Sunday last when a Cork camogie player’s supposed handshake was a first salvo in hostilities rather than the sporty hello that is de rigeur. It was funny and honest!
Talking of hostilities there have been a number of serious incidents causing hurt at games in this region-Sligo and Roscommon-in recent weeks. They have been absent for the most part from games prior to that so I imagine that the GAA will want to stamp out this behaviour quickly and decisively.

*Oh yes the airport at which the passport inspector was polite and welcoming was …Dublin.  

‘Learn to Live Wisely’
This was the heading of an advertisement on page 33 of the Sunday Independent that caught my eye. It went on to outline; “Those seeking an understanding of our existence and the world in which we live are invited to attend an introductory course in practical philosophy which shows that there is an underlying unity to everything and that this holds the key to a happy, fulfilling and peaceful life”. That is a big prize.
Anyway the introductory courses start between Monday September 19th and Saturday September 24th and lasts for 11 weeks. One venue is the Glasshouse Hotel Sligo. Amongst the headline topics from week 1 are Practical Philosophy, Self-Knowledge, Awareness, Living in the Present, Living Justly, Developing Reason in Ourselves and In Truth, Who Am I? and four more.
In college I attended Philosophy lectures with a Franciscan professor for a short time but felt somewhat overawed by it. Like many things I would like to dabble but I am probably too lazy for the challenge. From my earlier brush with it I remember one sentence from Descartes ‘I think therefore I am’ ! for information.        

The Paralympics
The competitors in the Paralympics show huge courage and fortitude. Last night I watched Eoghan Clifford from Galway win a gold medal-having earlier won a bronze- in pursuit cycling.  Colin Lynch later won a silver also in cycling but the greater achievement was that of Katie –George Dunlevy with Eve Mc Crystal in the cycling time trial. Their emotional reaction showed how much it meant to them. In swimming Ellen Keane was overjoyed to win a bronze medal in the 100 m breast stroke. Her generous attitude was demonstrated as she hugged the winner Katarina Roxon of Canada. All this follows from earlier medals from  Smyth and McKillop leaving Ireland with 4 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze. But if ever the adage that it is ‘the taking part that counts’ it is at the Paralympics. That is victory in itself.  


John Austin Beisty…..Thomas called and I had a chat with him. His taxi driver was a bit impatient and I was in working gear so the next time I’ll be more prepared.  

Paddy and Grainne hi. Just linking. I presume Paddy you are keeping an eye on the team’s progress.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Update 9th September

Roscommon GAA,  ‘Here We Go again’
 It seems that Roscommon GAA makes the headlines regularly. From time to time it is for very positive reasons. We saw that last spring with a number of exciting wins especially those against Kerry, Cork and Donegal. We were flavour of the spring then, enjoyed it and bathed in the reflected satisfaction of being spoken of so positively, nationally.

However the summer championship campaign knocked that back and this week we see Roscommon GAA in the news with resignations from the management team. In ordinary circumstances this might not be unusual as team managements change on a regular basis. However this is happening after just one year of a three year term and after a universal welcome for the joint management team established then.
‘Joint management’ teams are rare, a bit like arranged marriages, and  there is always the danger that they might fracture but this could not be seen this time last year when everybody that I am aware of applauded the arrangement arrived at. Another issue may be when things do not go as expected that  the number of personnel from one club might give critics a target for their criticism. I suppose, in hindsight, that might have been a consideration. It just shows you how perception impinges and to use a modern term for this, ‘optics’, is an important consideration.

Anyway the story emerging is hugely disappointing with the people effected being held in such high regard and having given such service to Roscommon football down the years at a multitude of levels.
If this had happened in an amicable way it would be very disappointing but respected. However in the statement issued by Fergal, David and Stephen there is the following disquieting sentence; “Recently, a concerted effort has been made (outside of management and players) to undermine and disparage us and it is especially disappointing and damaging that those involved purport to be concerned about the promotion of GAA within the county”.
I suppose if there are people who want change at any cost they will orchestrate that by whatever means but the more moderate voices must bring a cost- benefit analysis to bear. The die is cast now though and it is a pity that it has happened.

At a meeting of the County Executive Wednesday night it was decided to adopt the procedure of inviting an open application for the position of county senior team management. I believe that is appropriate as one must look at all the angles in the process ‘once bitten twice shy’ and all that.
 It is likely, but not certain of course, that the second member of the dual management  team Kevin McStay will be to the forefront of those who will be there for consideration.
When one considers the team panel, while we have a lot of good, if a bit similar, young players there are significant positional deficits. Also expectation amongst Roscommon supporters is often unreal. In fairness the results in that phase of the league inflated this and then sudden deflation. But then as I say from time to time, I would have no idea as to the inner happenings that has caused this current dilemma. Hopefully it will be resolved and that time will heal whatever damage may be have done.    

Outstanding Radio Programme
I have not always been a fan of Ray D’Arcy’s radio style but on Wednesday I happened to be on a reasonably long car journey and tuned into his show from 3 pm. It dealt with mental health issues and there were several speakers including a number of mothers whose young sons had died by suicide. The first lady gave a hugely impressive, lengthy and emotional account of her experience of her son’s life and death. There may be a number of readers who will have heard some part of the programme. I imagine there will be considerable comment wherever in coming weeks and maybe it will be repeated. You can listen to it on- line though I have limited expertise in that area. Indeed the advertising of radio programming seems to me pretty restricted if you are not an avid listener. A segment of the programme could feature on Marian Richardson’s ‘Playback’ on Saturday morning from 9 to 10am.   

Apple and the 13 Billion
Irrespective of the macro- economic details of the Apple 13 Billion tax bill that the Irish Government are forgoing the simple perception is going to be very negative for a fragile government and a stick which will be used to beat them in several ways by the stressed and stretched public at this time.

The Flight of the Bumble Bee
I accidentally killed a Bumble Bee recently and was disappointed with myself. I have seen so few bees this summer that to be responsible for the demise of one of that few was an extra wrench. Another group I have seen little of lately are butterflies. I just ‘clicked into’ butterflies there now and have been reassured that they are pretty common if not in my surroundings. What a beautiful insect they are from the common ‘Painted Lady’ to the ‘Red Admiral’. Apparently nettles are a positive environment for them so my well disguised back garden which has got somewhat out of my control recently should be a natural eco-system home for butterflies and much more next spring.  That’s part of my excuse anyway!

Boyle v St. Faith leach’s in Senior Quarter Final Sunday next 3.45 @ Kilglass.
While I have missed a couple of games recently I was delighted, even privileged, to be in Ballintubber a couple of weeks ago to see Boyle Seniors give an outstanding display in their victory over reigning county champions Clann na nGael.        
With the previous championship win over Roscommon Gaels they go down they were the best pair of performances at senior level in my time in Boyle and perhaps before that.  Michael O’Brien’s report headline reflected the quality of the performance. It went ‘Boyle’s brilliance crushes reigning champs’. The final score was Boyle 4. 13 Clann na nGael 2.14 with the half time score Boyle 1.9 Clann 0.7. Tellingly and imaginatively Michael gave his ‘Man of the Match’ award to ‘The (Boyle) Team’ there were so many contenders for that accolade that he fittingly gave it as a  collective. The Boyle team: T. Lowe/G. Gilmartin/ Ml. Hanmore/ C. Beirne/ D. East/ S. Purcell/ T. McKenna/ K. Cox/ R. Hanmore/ Killian Cox/ E. Smith/ D. O’Connor/ C. McKeon/ J. Suffin/ D. Callaghan/ with M. O’Donohoe and T. McGarty/ M. O’Connor/ B. Kerins/ C. Goldrick/ C. Tivnan/ T. Halligan/ C. Deery/ C. Lavin/ C. Horan/ K. Kelly.
(On enquiring why Sean Purell was wearing no. 26 I was told that jersey number 6 has been ‘lost/borrowed and similarly with number 14. So if found could they be returned……please.)    

On next Sunday they meet a talented St. Faithleach’s team powered by the Murtagh brothers. 

The Beauty of Dubrovnik in Croatia

I was lucky to be able to spend last week in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. One of the real joys is on waking very early  peering by the curtain and seeing the beautiful bay bathed in sunshine. It was so much easier to approach the day’s endeavours with optimism and energy. The city of Dubrovnik is divided between the Old and the New town. The Old Town is enclosed by an impressive wall and the new town expands out from there but is contained by the surrounding heights. We were part of a group of near fifty and our trip was operated by the Travel Department Travel Company with which we have gone a number of times previously. There are a number of advantages to this in terms of organising and being part of a group where you will always meet good travel companions, as we did again.
The Old City may not have the ‘wow’ factor of the great Italian destinations but the beauty of its location compensates for that. The city suffered considerable during the Balkan War of the 1990s’ at the conclusion of which the people immediately set about restoration because its’ one industry was/is tourism. It gets very crowded and is very hot during high summer but in early September these are lessened.
One of our first ‘tours’ was a visit to the ‘Old Town’ as we stayed a few miles outside which was serviced by a very efficient bus service. There are a number of wide streets and a maze of interconnecting narrow laneways. So that these do not get impassable there is a system of listing what each street has at the entrance. It is a city of restaurants. How so many can survive is a question but they obviously do and do so in interiors and along the street exteriors. While there are people who encourage you to eat in their restaurant they do so in such a polite way as opposed to an aggressive manner in other countries.
Apart from soaking up the charm of the city the obvious box to tick is a walk on the walls from where you get an overview of the city. This can take a slow one and a half hours and is best done during the cooler times of the morning or evening. Another ‘overview’ is from the cable car which runs from the ‘Old City’ to the prominence above the city. If this is not the main course then it is the dessert of sightseeing in Dubrovnik and can be done to spectacular effect in the darkness of early night.
We did a number of trips out of Dubrovnik. The first trip was by boat to a number of the Elaphite Islands which straddle the coastline. A second trip brought us across borders to Montenegro to Kotor another walled city. A feature of these coastal cities is the presence of the great cruise ships which in Kotor came get right into the heart of the city. On the way there our group visited Our Lady of the Rocks Church on an island in Boka Bay.
On Saturday a couple of possible single day tours were melted into one with the result that we crossed a number of borders again before arriving for a short visit in Medugorja which is in Bosnia. It was a beautiful day and not terribly crowded. It has the feel of an exaggerated Knock and was very commercialised. A couple of us made tracks to see the actual ‘Apparition Hill’ which we did from a distance. A number of people stayed in Međugorje while the rest of us headed on thirty miles longer to the City of Mostar and its famous rebuilt bridge. This is a city bearing the massive scars, damage and restrictions of the 1990s’ wars.  Indeed history is an unwinding spool here. Bosnia has three Presidents to facilitate the three ethnic groups within its borders and its flag is also designed to represent this.
The penultimate day it was spent ticking a few more boxes such as walk on the walls and visiting the town at dusk.
On Monday it was back to a sunny and warm Dublin as it happened. There is plenty to muse over from a memorable trip to a region where east meets west and history and ethnic harmony is a fragile flower.
(If anyone was planning to visit Dubrovnik and wanted to get a few pointers on same they are welcome to give me a call.) 

The Paralympics
I really enjoyed the ‘able bodied’ Olympics and watched a lot of it. Now I am tuning into the Paralympics. Today Friday shortly after 3 o’clock a great Irish athlete, from Derry, referred to as the Usain Bolt of Paralympics, is in the final of the 100 metres. He has gold in the 100 and 200m at both the Beijing and London Paralympics but on this occasion has chosen jut the 100m. His name is Jason Smyth. He holds the world record of 10.46 and just narrowly missed out on the qualifying time for the ‘able bodied’ Olympics. His disability is in very restricted eyesight.
Orla Comerford qualified for the 1500m final last night and Michael McKillop is triple gold medal winner previously. There are 48 members in the team and they cover a range of disciplines. They deserve our attention, support and respect.