Summer and the Turf Saving Campaign
These lovely sunny days remind me of times past and the various ‘campaigns’ that were part of the cycle of farming life. It all started in early spring with the lambing season. Then came the preparation of land for sowing of crops. We were a ‘mixed farm’, stock and tillage. Spuds (potatoes came later!), turnips, oats, a little barley and a substantial cabbage garden and vegetable area. The first item was the ploughing. In the early days of the fifties this was done by a team of horses and the skill of the ploughman. The potatoes were set in three seed potatoes wide ridges for the most part and later in ‘drills’. The land for oats was first ploughed and then harrowed. There were two types of harrow that I remember a spring harrow and a solid ‘tooth’ model. The seed was hand spread which was also a skill. Then it was rolled into the receptive harrowed ground. This was easy work in terms of lack of precision. Later on the acquisition of a tractor, a lot changed, it was now an attached disc harrow. I remember the arrival of the tractor on the farm around 1958. It was a Fordson Dexta with its number being DI 7249 which Tony Murphy from Casey’s garage in Roscommon delivered. It is still parked in retirement in an old shed on the farm. The graph of its value has probably turned in recent years. When I first came to live in Forest View I could see out my back window some of the land on lower reaches of the Curlew Hills i.e. Deerpark, interrupted by tillage fields which produced oats and potatoes. There is not a single ploughed field to be seen there today. In national school days there was a poem for nearly every season so I transfer to here the one I remember saluting the practise of ploughing;
I Will Go with My Father a-Ploughing
by Joseph Campbell
I will go with my Father a-ploughing
To the Green Field by the sea,
And the rooks and corbies and seagulls
Will come flocking after me.
I will sing to the patient horses
With the lark in the shine of the air,
And my Father will sing the Plough-Song
That blesses the cleaving share.
After the crop sowing the next campaign was that of the turf cutting, the bog. I participate in a relic of that now as I ‘save’ turf on Tonroe bog. Indeed before my trip to Carrick last Saturday it was an early trip to the bog first to ensure that the turf was lifted into ‘footings’ and got the benefit of the sun and wind i.e. good drying conditions, while I indulged in watching Roscommon stroll to victory in Pairc Sean.
Roscommon Cruise Past Leitrim
It was a beautiful day to travel to Carrick-on-Shannon for Roscommon’s first outing in the Connacht championship but the game itself was a non-event as a contest. After the initial sparring for eight minutes or so the trend of the game became obvious and Roscommon cruised to a very comfortable win. The crowd of over 8 thousand was smaller than I expected as I felt that Roscommon supporters would travel in large numbers since it was a late entry to the championships for them. Perhaps it was because of the good weather and turf had to be dealt with and perhaps some felt that they could wait for the next game!
One has to admire, maybe even to feel for, Leitrim supporters as they follow a team that is very unlikely to rock the boats of the stronger counties in Connacht. I started following football as a ‘child’ in the late fifties and I first saw Leitrim in St. Coman’s Park, Roscommon in 1958 when the lost in a titanic struggle to Galway on the score of Galway 2.10 Leitrim 1.11. They had a great team then with players who became legends of the game in Leitrim and Connacht such as Packie McGarty, Cathal Flynn and Josie Murray. Leitrim contested four Connacht Finals in a row in that period losing all four to Galway. Through the sixties also they could challenge Roscommon and defeated them a number of times. The slide started in the seventies. Their highlight win came with the great Connacht victory over Mayo, Leitrim 0.12 Mayo 2.4 in Roscommon with a very good team. The county has its dedicated core of supporters who will follow the county team to distant venues in the league encounters and New York and London for Championship games.
Leitrim’s population is 32 thousand but dipped to 25 in the 90s’. (Roscommon’s is 64 but had dipped to 52 in the 90s’). There has always been significant emigration from the county and there is a large Leitrim community in New York. (Of course there is a declining Irish community in New York with the bite of immigration controls taking effect). Leitrim people are resilient and like all communities are very proud of their county. They resent the occasional references in media which suggests that the county is a kind of a lost soul which is only suited to forestry and fracking for gas and such like.
Anyway back to the game. I feel I have rarely seen a Leitrim team as weak as last Sunday’s and it was only when some substitutes came on that they got some impressive scores by which time the result was long decided. Roscommon will not have learned a lot from this encounter but by now the management will know their team. I was impressed by the goalkeeper Colm Lavin from Eire Og, the midfield did well with Cathal Compton having a very good game. Fintan Cregg did very well in negating any potential influence of Emlyn Mulligan while all the forwards did well with Cathal Cregg particularly impressive when he came on. However if Galway defeat Sligo as one would expect they will be a very different and more physical side. Still we are back where we were last year and who knows, perhaps we can emulate that again.
Round 1 of Qualifiers drawn this Monday morning are: Derry v Kildare/ Meath v Tyrone/London v Louth/ Wicklow v Cavan/ Offaly v Antrim/ Limerick v Mayo/ Westmeath v Armagh/Wexford v Waterford. The two heavyweights are Mayo and Tyrone while the other 6 fixtures are pretty even considering that the first drawn has home advantage. The Championship has thrown up a couple of surprises especially in Leinster with Carlow’s win over Kildare and Longford’s win over Meath. These two wins have not happened for decades for the respective counties. So the Leinster Semi-Finals see Carlow v Laois and Longford v Dublin. Three very unlikely semi-finalists there. But of course the juggernaut that is Dublin rolls on and for Longford it is an intimidating prospect. The heavy defeat yesterday of Tipp. by Cork was another surprise especially in the margin of the win. It illustrates the regular inconsistency (!) of Cork who can surface from time to time with a really good side. Four teams from the above will qualify for Round 4 where they will be joined by the provincial runners up. The winners of these game will go into the ‘Super 8s’ as below:
How does the GAA Super 8 work?
The GAA Super 8 will apply to the football championship at the quarter-final stage.
In 2018, the first year of a three-year trial period for the new format, the two groups, each comprised of four teams, will look as follows:
Group 1: Munster champions, Connacht champions, Ulster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in Round 4), Leinster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in round 4)
Group 2: Ulster champions, Leinster champions, Munster runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in Round 4), Connacht runner-up (or qualifier team that beats them in round 4)
In the new format, each team will have a home game, an away game and a game at Croke Park. The semi-finals will be comprised of the top two teams from each group.
Hurling to the Fore
The senior hurling championship is providing some cracking games with yesterday’s Galway defeat of Kilkenny showing that a powerful Galway team looks strong enough to go all the way again this year. They certainly outmuscled and out-hurled Kilkenny yesterday and it will be another cracking game next week-end for them v Wexford in Wexford. Wexford too are looking like being contenders also but this will be sorely tested by Galway next week-end. Cork too are possible contenders as are Clare and Limerick. Waterford seem to have run out of resources with a long injury list plus a number of players going abroad. The toll of games 4/5 week-ends in a row is taking its toll and will have to be changed for next year.
Boyle Junior ‘B’ 2.20 St. Barry’s 0. 12.
I have decided to make a decent effort to follow the fortunes of Boyle Juniors this summer. Last Friday night they had an impressive win over St. Barry’s. The first half had many of the elements of raw junior football and at half time Barry’s led by 9 points to 6. Boyle put in a much better performance in the second half and goals from James Bolger and David Kelly –a penalty- saw them run up an impressive total of 2.20 to Barry’s 0.12 thus scoring 2.14 to 0.3 in the second half.
If one could leave the first ragged half aside it was a good show by the team with Ml. Bermingham cool in goal; Furey and Finneran strong in backs, a welcome return for Jim Suffin at midfield. (Jim had been on overseas duty with the Irish Army/U.N mission in the Lebanon) Seamus Kane was prominent in various sectors with some very good frees and fielding and David Kelly with 1.4 also doing well. So hopefully they will maintain the momentum for the remainder of the season.
The Boyle team was; Ml. Bermingham/Cathal Horan/ Cian Beirne/ Brian Furey/ Shane Battles/ Ryan Finneran/ Jonathan Regan/ Jim Suffin/ Tomas Halligan 0.3/ James Bolger 1.0 / Colin Goldrick 0.4/ Lochlainn Conboy 0.3/ Marc O’Connor/ Seamus Kane 0.5/ David Kelly 1.4 (?) with Donal Kelly and Sean Mullens.
I happened on a wee girls Camogie blitz on Wednesday of last week in the Abbey Park. It was something to see the enthusiasm and enjoyment involved in it all. Fair play to the ladies who make it happen. Once there was a very limited palate for sports participation of girls and ladies in Boyle but that is changing thankfully. A regret I have is that I did not try to foster hurling (coming as I do from hurling country near Athleague) in this neck of the woods when I first came to Boyle in the early 70s’.
Champions League More Drama
After the Roscommon v Leitrim fest I parked myself in a bustling Percey/Whelans Bar in Carrick to watch Liverpool v Real Madrid in the Champions League Final. This has provided plenty of drama for the past few months especially in the knock out stages. It was no different in this game. The Liverpool star Mo Salah, who had taken over the headlines, had to go off injured early in the game which distorted the possible progress of the game. The villain of that incident was the Real Madrid captain Ramos with a cynical drag to ground of Salah. Still the sides went in at half time nil all. Then in the 51st minute in the second half of the game the Liverpool goalkeeper gifted Real Madrid a goal with a moment of mindless carelessness. This was cancelled by a Liverpool goal by their best player Mane to level matters five minutes later. Then substitute Gareth Bale provided an absolutely stunning goal on 64 minutes to leave Real in the driving seat. The same player-Bale- with a speculative shot, put the result to bed in the 83rd minute as the goalkeeper added to his earlier huge error with another of equal consequence.
Real Madrid were deserving winners being the better footballing side but the game will be remembered for the Loris Karius goalkeeping errors, which earned a 3 out of 10 assessment from one online pundit. Gareth Bale’s stunning goal will also be a gem from the game.
As I said around Christmas the Champions League is probably my top television series of the winter.
Sorry to end on a very different note but there was an interesting article in last week’s Indo by Ewan MacKenna: ‘Murky questions surround Spanish football's golden era - and people might not like the answers’.
P.S. After the soccer game a couple of us walked through Carrick-on-Shannon to link up with transport for home. It being a Saturday night Carrick was buzzing with vibrancy with throngs of people moving along the streets and large groups seated outside various hostelries. It was like the core of Galway City or Killarney and certainly a young person’s magnet.