Log in

Walsh inspires Galway – but Roscommon can make Super 8s too

It’s Saturday night in Mikeen’s and Creggs GAA Club are holding an ‘Up for the Match’ fundraiser, where the club had a draw for two stand tickets for the big game, and also got the views of a couple of well-known local personalities, namely Roscommon County Secretary Brian Carroll, local Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, Karol Keane (recently returned from the U.S.) and – for some unknown reason – me.

  Karol and myself were first on, and he went for a Rossie win (by three) naturally enough. I went for Galway by four, (pure genius) but the real insight was to come from the other pairing.

  Brian had to go for a home victory as well, but he did say that if Galway played to their full potential, it would be a tough task for the incoming Connacht champions. However, it was Fitz who made what was to prove the most correct assessment of all when the M.C. Paul Brown asked him who would make the biggest impact for Galway, and, surprisingly, he went for Shane Walsh ahead of Damien Comer.

  Today, Monday, his words could not have been more prophetic, because Walsh took the game by the scruff of the neck and almost singlehandedly dragged Galway across the winning line.

  The story of the game will be well covered in the sports columns, so I am not going to add my assessment, but the suitability of the Hyde as the venue should never again be questioned as it was absolutely top class. It’s so accessible from everywhere. There are no major traffic jams, and it’s only a couple of minutes walk from the town centre. As far as I’m concerned it’s miles better than any of the other Connacht venues, and all steps should be taken to make sure it gets its fair share of big matches.

  The truth about the result is it doesn’t really matter, (as long as Galway won) so there was a slow boat back to Creggs, and the banter and the craic was good, and, for both teams the Super 8s beckon. Galway are there already, but one more win will see the Rossies back in the mix. It could be a very interesting summer.

  Staying with sport, and one of the big talking points is the introduction of non-competitive games right across the board for our very young children. I for one think it’s a great idea. It’s terribly sad to see kids at 6, 8 or 10 years of age being heartbroken when they lose a final, and it’s way too young to have a ‘win at all costs’ mindset already in place.

  Enjoyment is what sport should be all about, but of course parents must shoulder some of the responsibility as well, because we have all seen daddies and mammies roaring abuse at their own team, at the opposition team and at the referees. In my opinion there is nothing more shameful.

  There should be no trophies in any sport, at least till U-12 level. Everyone should be allowed to play and enjoy games without the pressure of having to win, and maybe that way children might actually play longer and more, because there is no doubt that many of them give up due to the pressure they are put under by parents/managers. There seems to be a movement afoot to tackle the problem. I hope there is –  and let’s see what happens.

Is Ryanair right on banning drink in the mornings?

Today’s newspapers are full of the story of a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Ibiza that had to be diverted to Paris  because of the unruly antics of up to 20 drunken passengers, three of whom were removed from the aircraft by French police.

  Ryanair have called for the ban of early morning drink sales in airports, and while some commentators are labelling such a ban as draconian, I have to admit that one of my biggest nightmares has to be the thought of a large group causing trouble on any flight, with absolutely no way to escape.

  I’m not a prude, particularly when it comes to alcohol, and I’m not always a Ryanair fan, but this time I think they are right, and groups with too much drink taken should not be allowed on board.

Just the tonic! Gin is so in…

It’s amazing how ideas change through the years, and depending on where you look you find that, in some people’s opinion, nearly everything we eat is bad for us. In truth if we were to believe all we read we’d give up on all foods and eat nothing at all.

 

  However, on this Monday morning, as I recover from the exertions of yesterday’s Connacht Final, it’s the extraordinary turnaround in the fortunes of the drink of gin that is occupying my mind. Gin has suddenly become such a popular drink that only last Saturday week we had the World Gin Day, a day that is described as “a global celebration of all things gin”. Celebratory events took place all over the world.

  When I was a young lad, gin was a drink that was frowned upon by the establishment, and we were told that, among other things, it brought on massive bouts of depression! Today, it is, in my opinion, the most popular short drink, and in even the humblest of public houses you now have a selection of a minimum of six different brands, a long cry from the days when the only ones available were Cork Dry Gin and Gordon’s.

  Now I am a committed Guinness man, but even I can tell you about Gunpowder, Dingle, Bombay, Hendrick’s and Concullen, among at least 31 brands that are available in Ireland.

  Everywhere you go there are punters drinking their gins out of exotic looking fishbowl glasses, topped off with some of the new tonics which have also cropped up, like Elderberry and Fever Tree’s Indian tonic water. I’m even told there are pubs and hotels, that serve nothing but gin, so as a popular drink it certainly seems to have thrown off its depression label.

  For me, the major source of depression is the price, as I’m told the cost of a Gunpowder gin and a Fever Tree tonic is about €8; think I’ll stick to the porter.

 Finally for this week

Finally, for this week, on a midday radio show I happened to hear Knockcroghery shopkeeper Brendan Ward telling the story of how he was robbed for the ninth time in eighteen years recently, and how the theft of money and cigarettes may ultimately put him out of business, how he could not afford the enormous premiums required by insurance companies to cover cigarette theft, and how he was driven to despair by the whole experience.

  As I listened to his desperately sad tale, one point he made seemed to make a lot of sense, and that was to have a permanent Garda presence on the bridges over the Shannon, as by doing so, the escape route for any Dublin-based criminal gangs would be almost cut off, and, looking at the map of Ireland, they would have to go all the way to near Sligo to get back  without crossing the Shannon.

  Now I know we will be told about all the usual stuff, regarding lack of resources and personnel, but surely when these gangs are putting good, honest, hard-working people out of business, something has to be done. Come on all ye politicians and Gardai, put your heads together and put these scumbags out of business, behind bars, and finally let the residents of rural Ireland get some peaceful sleep!

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Ireland – land of scandals and scoping exercises

 

 

Some things never get old…the joy of opening up a birthday pressie and finding it’s a pair of elasticated waist jammies; perfect for that Saturday night veg out with a takeaway, bottle of wine and a comedy. Other things that never get old are tail wags and face licks from my beautiful fur babies and visits from my adorable granddaughter…oh and Nicole Kidman’s forehead…there’s another thing that never gets old. Too much Botox?

  Something that does get old however, and continues to turn my stomach is this country’s deplorable reputation for its love of tribunals and commissions for investigations. Yes, forget about Ireland, land of saints and scholars, we’re Ireland, land of scandals and scoping exercises. I say this readers because Simon Harris has confirmed that a full commission of investigation will be launched around the CervicalCheck shambles.

  Look, when I initially heard independent investigator Dr. Gabriel Scally was across the preliminary inquiry into this cock-up, I thought great, we’ll get some answers here, and we’ll get them soon. The women affected, as well as all Irish women, deserve and are entitled to information regarding our own health.

  However, it has been alleged that the eminent Dr. Scally hasn’t received all of the vital documentation he requested in ‘a searchable format’, which means some dipstick sitting on a fat pension provided him with ‘scanned versions of documents that had originally existed in electronic form’ – this set off alarm bells inside my head.

  This latest development means it’s business as usual for our State bodies and strongly suggests it’ll be years before we know the truth; years that these seriously ill women do not have the luxury of enjoying, and years before we will discover why lives were put at risk (and probably still are being put at risk). Now, while of course the ladies who are affected by this Cervical scandal, and the ones who have commenced legal action, deserve to have their say, to have their side of the story out in the open, I fear that by the end of it all, the investigation will most likely deliver no results whatsoever, and it sure as hell will not hold anyone accountable. What it will do however is waste precious time, possibly cost some women their lives and cost us, the taxpayers, millions of euro!

  When I worked in live TV, before we went on air, we used to ask ourselves this simple question…”Have you CYA?” Yep, the old cover your a**e examination. And, as a suspicious aul bint, this extra delay tactic regarding the provision of documents poses a lot of questions for me, some of them being…Is someone trying to cover their a**e by  delaying this investigation’s outcome? Is that someone hoping for a cover-up? If so…who? And…why?

  There appears to be a culture of defensive administration within our HSE, and while there are wonderful people working there – people who value the importance of the jobs they do, people who genuinely care about their clients – there seems, at some level, to be a collective mindset of ‘just couldn’t give a s**t,’ and ‘we assumed; we didn’t think to crosscheck; we believed it was a reasonable outcome,’ and, ‘sure let’s plough on regardless’.

  Oooh I don’t know about you readers, but I can see the clumsy, dysfunctional, underperforming, inefficient and incompetent failures behind this shameful shenanigans all lawyering up in time for the big exposure.

Why I’m jealous of J-Lo!

 

While the majority of us want to age gracefully, and that’s great, on a personal level I never want to wear clothes or sport a caramel helmet hairdo that screams I’ve reached an age where I’m entitled to a senior citizen’s discount at the movies. And, while I’m a long way away from reaching that milestone…shut up, I am…I was interested to read that the stunning Jennifer Lopez, (J-Lo for those who’re down with da kids), was recently talking about the perils of turning old.

 

  She said: “Listen, at some point, I’m going to age. They’ll say, ‘She looks old!’ But, right now, I’m holding it together”.

  And she certainly is, and I hope that I am too; yeah I’m delusional as well as jealous of J-Lo’s Benjamin Button(esque) existence.

  But mind you readers, J-Lo does have a new make-up line to launch, one that’s more than likely aimed at us regular, more mature ladies who can’t afford her list of stylists and clever make-up artists. Nor, (like Ms. Bootilicious), do we have a partner who is so bedazzled by how we look first thing in the morning they tell us how ‘youthful and timeless’ we are.

  I mean, credit where credit is due, J-Lo looks practically the same as she did 20 years ago, and she’s certainly got it all goin’ on gurl! However ladies, I wonder would Jenny from the block still be killin’ it and basking in the glory of her very own hotness if she lived on our little salaries and couldn’t afford those expensive reverse-aging products? No, she would not!

  I think if J-Lo had to do it all on our budgets, her next hit would be Jenny from the Retirement Home! Oh yeah, her love may not cost a thing, but I’ll bet her beauty products cost the equivalent of our country’s annual deficit! Meow!

Now is not the time for a general election

I see Sinn Féin dropped their threat of a ‘no confidence’ motion in Minister Eoghan Murphy following the housing crisis figures blunder,  leading me to ask if their hostilities were just a bit of a political stunt?

  You see, if Eoghan fell, the government would fall, plunging us into a general election. That means the timeframe for the commission of enquiry is fecked, the Brexit negotiations’ deadlines are fecked, the timeframe for passing the abortion legislation is extended and budget negotiations will be put on hold…in short, it’d be Armageddon, folks.

Connacht Final Special - Don't mention the war!

 

 

Sunday

Walking back into town from the Hyde on Sunday…so many people.

 

  First, I met The Man In The Street. I met him just outside the Hyde, well, in the street actually.

  “Threw it away” he said, shaking his head. “You can’t win a Connacht Final if you only score 1-1 in the second half”.

  Next, I met The Woman In The Street.

  “Well, Paul, what did you make of that?”

  I was about to answer, when she ventured her own verdict.

  “We should have been out of sight at half-time”.

  I wasn’t too sure about us being out of sight, but I continued walking towards town. 

  Next, I met The Former Player.

  I felt a bit overawed, but sure I’m as entitled to an opinion as the next person.

  The Former Player was a bit more nuanced.

  “They committed more men in the second half and their subs made a big difference”.

  I realised that by the time I got to town I’d have a great overview of what had gone wrong. I’d woo them in the bar if (as seemed likely) I popped in for Postmortem Pint.

  Next, I met The Great Clubman.

  As is his nature, he was more than fair-minded.

  “Ah, they played a great first half, we just had a bad day in front of the posts, that’ll never happen again”.

  The GAA will never die as long as The Great Clubman is around. They’re everywhere, and they always have lotto tickets on them.

  By now I was at Dermot Hughes’ (Toyota Man). Next, I met The Man Who Knows It All.

  “Left it behind Paul, left it behind! Sure they ran straight through us in the last ten minutes. We had no impact subs compared to them. Our lads were isolated up front, and they took the wrong options. And I can’t understand how…”

  I left him in mid-sentence; there’s very little you can say to The Man Who Knows It All. He can never for the life of him ‘understand how’. I quickened my step and The Man Who Knows It All was soon lost in the crowd…where he could know it all with someone else.

  Next, I met the Fair Weather Supporter.

  “I thought they had it at half-time but sure look, they tried their best” he reasoned.

  I wondered if he resented handing over all those nice euro notes, but he seemed happy enough that he had joined the bandwagon. He was fair enough in his analysis.

  “We’re still in it, we can make the Super 8s,” I said to Strictly Fair Weather Man, hoping he knew what I was referring to! (I feared I might have to explain to him that the Super 8 isn’t some new menu option in Supermac’s, which was now within sight of us).

  Next, I met the Ould Fella Who Played In The Good Old Days.

  “Galway had thirteen men behind the ball, sure that’s not football” he said, shaking his head, though I felt his heart wasn’t in it, like he knew his pre-match script was a bit irrelevant now, what with Galway having come out to play in the second half.  After all, it was quite a good match.

  ‘Ould Fella’ was happy enough too, but as I moved on, I suspected he was daydreaming of real men going man for man and of full-backs who would creel any man brave/stupid enough to enter their zone.

  By now I was at Casey’s Roundabout. I met The Man You Can’t Put A Name on Who You Meet At Matches Every Few Years.

  He raised his eyebrows and I raised my eyebrows. “A bad day at the office” he said. “Could have won” I said, “missed too much in the second half. But they played well”.

  You can’t talk for long on a roundabout; we’ll resume the conversation in the future.

  Next, I met The Bigger Picture Businessman.

  “Ah they were in hard luck, but sure it’s a great day for the town!”

  I had to agree. We both agreed that the Hyde looked great and that the town needed this day badly. Let the tills ring out.

  Deeply disappointed at the result, but proud of the Roscommon team, I decided a post-match pint and some more interaction with fellow sufferers was the way to go.

  I met Everyman. They were all great company. Even Barstool Expert was bearable. Sure we all have opinions. Barstool Expert reeled off several reasons for Roscommon’s loss, but he reckoned we can have a good run yet.

  The only one who got on my nerves ever so slightly was The Armchair Critic. He wasn’t at the game (naturally), he wouldn’t cross the road to see them.

  He was the only bullshi**er I met all day. People don’t have to go to games (many can’t) and those who don’t are very much entitled to their opinion. But A Particular Type of Armchair Critic is a bore and a spoofer.

  I left him, and returned to the throngs at the bar on this vibrant day in Roscommon. I joined The True Rossies, ordered a pint…and we sorted it all out.

‘Most relaxed person of week’

The ‘Most relaxed person of the week’ award goes to the middle-aged man who abandoned (I cannot say ‘parked’) his car in the most audacious manner at Casey’s in Roscommon.

 

  This gentleman just drove in and abandoned his car – zigzag, for us all to admire – in the middle of the forecourt, before casually getting out. 

  He then proceeded to take his time walking into the shop, having a good look around him as he went.

  His car was in everyone’s way, but he was a cool as a cucumber. Nothing fazes him.

  Get that man on to the Brexit negotiations straight away!

 

Whatever you do, don’t mention the…

In Fawlty Towers, a concussed Basil whispers to one of his long-suffering colleagues: “Don’t mention the war, I mentioned it once or twice, but I think I got away with it!”

 

  I’m not sure what the policy on ‘mentioning the war’ was within the corridors of power in the Connacht Council all week (although I have a fair idea, I suppose!).

  Hot on the heels of not sparing Roscommon County Board – in public – on the status of Hyde Park a week or so ago, the Connacht Council made a bad job of it if their policy was to ‘not mention the war’ last weekend!

  The charm offensive in reverse began in the match programme for the Connacht Final. Fair enough I suppose that Gerry McGovern, Connacht Council President, saw fit in his programme notes to call on Roscommon County Board to to start refurbishments as soon as possible.

  Arguably not so fair – indeed to quote the late Kenny Everett “not in the best possible taste” – was McGovern’s decision to repeat the Connacht Council line: “This is the last Connacht Senior Football Championship final that will be held at this venue until the necessary refurbishment works are carried out…”

  It was a bit like attending a neighbour’s Christmas Party, but insisting that you wouldn’t be coming in any future year unless the furnishings and refreshments were of a higher standard.

  Later, when handing over the cup to the Galway captain, Mr. McGovern definitely failed the ‘Don’t mention the war’ test.

  Why are the Connacht Council seeking to embarrass Roscommon County Board so publicly on this issue? Is it not enough to convey the message once, then let diplomacy take over?!

  But Mr. McGovern had a message to impart, an engineering and construction and renovation message, even as a football team captain had his hand out for the Nestor Cup.

  Surely, in light of raising the subject in the match progamme, Mr. McGovern should (metaphorically speaking) have been whispering to any Connacht Council colleagues within earshot “Don’t mention the war, I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!”

  Instead, he only went and mentioned it again.

  “This is the last Connacht Final….” (you know the rest).

  No-one is disputing that works need to be done at the Hyde, but the Connacht Council seems to be turning the screw quite a bit, and the timing of Mr. McGovern’s comments frustrated many Roscommon people.

 

Guilty…of fraud in the first degree!

 

 

‘Last night he was dreaming, he was locked in a prison cell’…

  Yes readers, his legal team may have put up a good fight, but, following a lengthy 16-week trial, held at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court, last week, a jury consisting of nine men and three women, wouldn’t go for his story; they wouldn’t hear his plea, and they convicted former Anglo Irish Bank CEO David Drumm, pictured right, of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting charges.

  It took 10 hours and 32 minutes of deliberations to find Drumm had conspired with ex-bankers Denis Casey, Willie McAteer and John Bowe to defraud depositors and investors with their dishonest dealings. 

  As we know, the State’s case was that Drumm had artificially inflated figures by circulating €7.2 billion between Irish Life and Permanent and Anglo Irish in an attempt to create the illusion the bank’s customer deposits base was much stronger than it actually was.

  Drumm, who presents as being so arrogant he’s in danger of drowning in a puddle of his own smugness, and who the court heard, had referred to the financial regulator as “Freddie f**king Fly”, saying that he intended to go to “that f**king shower of clowns down in Dame Street” in order to seek emergency funding for the bank, clearly thought he didn’t need to face the music. Nor did he need to take responsibility for his illegal actions, in his view. And so, in the wake of the bank’s implosion, this criminal legged it like a coward to set up shop and live in the lucrative, upmarket suburb of Wellesley in Boston Massachusetts!

  Meanwhile, the country struggled with job losses, with many of us being forced to  eke out a meagre existence following massive wage cuts, (yet still having to pay the same bills/loans/mortgages and living expenses, etc.), due to this privileged prat’s actions, (because, according to the prosecution, Drumm was “the man who called the shots”). Anglo was then nationalised in a move that cost you, me and every other tax-paying sucker a whopping €29 billion.

  So readers, you’ll forgive me when I say I did a happy dance around my kitchen when I heard the verdict.

  However folks, I have to ask, 10 years on from this financial holocaust, are we about to make the same mistakes all over again?

  Each week we’re getting repeated warnings that our systems are not robust enough. Sure wasn’t it only last week, (as Drumm was being found guilty), we heard the OECD warning that “some signs of overheating are emerging” in our economy; expressing a concern around the pace of lending growth, alerting that it was “increasing sharply” and there was a distinct risk of “another property bubble associated with a strong surge in credit growth”. 

  Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot go through another recession, because the one we’ve just struggled through has left me with deep emotional as well as financial scars, as I’m certain it has left many others, and, even though Maths was never my strong point, it’s clear to me that Paschal Donohoe, as  Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, needs to take heed of where our finances are going and start budgeting instead of carelessly passing out our cash like snuff at a wake and using it for political spending, i.e. buying votes.

  Seriously Paschal, this country cannot make the same mistakes over and over again and expect a different outcome…it’s not possible. Cop on! Yourself, Leo, Simon C, and back-up Simon H, and the rest of the Muppet Show must stop focusing on your Coalition options (sure you’re romancing so many ‘possibilities,’ it’s like an embarrassing episode of First Dates Ireland), and instead prioritise prudent fiscal planning and budgeting because what this country needs right now is to show a surplus, and not how photo fabulous Leo looks when meeting Olly Murs!

 

What Katie needs to do next…

 

Anyone else think Katie Taylor’s press release regarding the horrendous shooting at Bray Boxing Club was a tad disingenuous?

            Her heartfelt condolences to the grieving family of innocent bystander Bobby Messett were spot on. My thoughts are with them. May Mr. Messett rest in peace.

  However, Katie’s line saying she has had ‘no contact or association whatsoever with Bray Boxing Club since 2015,’ kinda annoyed me. As did her dig at the media, where she says, “I have been appalled by the misuse of my name and image during the reporting of this incident in the media coverage, it has been reckless and irresponsible, and a deliberate attempt to inappropriately leverage my name to sell a story’. 

  First of all Katie, let me tell ya love, YOU are the story, and you had no problem being the story, and indeed were very happy to be the story and be fully associated with that gym/boxing club when it was built especially for you by the tax-paying public, in order that you could pursue your boxing career.

            However, if I were someone who reads between the lines (and I am), I’d assume that distancing yourself from the gym is pretty specific and raises more questions than it actually answers…interesting!

  Anyhow brand Katie, (‘cos that’s what you are isn’t it…a brand), while you’re a great role model for young people, my advice to you is to work on your memory as well as your boxing skills and never forget where you came from or the tax-paying public who helped you get to where you are now.

Are new name and shame laws a good idea?

 

Big gold star goes to Communications Minister Denis Naughten, who has, for the past six years, been calling for the introduction of electronically tagging sex offenders when they leave prison.

  The Government has approved the legislation which will allow the monitoring of registered sex offenders’ movements which could see schools and neighbours being told the name, address and identity of ‘high risk’ perverted ex-cons who’re living in their area, and who will pose a  threat.

  Now while this move is controversial, I have to say well done to Minister Naughten for pushing the initiative.

  However, if these draft amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are passed by the Oireachtas, I imagine the move will receive criticism from the do-gooders in the bleeding-heart-brigade, and the members of the save-the-sex-offender club!

  Then again, (playing devil’s advocate here), there’s a danger this naming and shaming of offenders could lead to them going underground for fear of potential vigilantism, so I’d imagine there are issues regarding the practicalities of this proposed plan…but hey, it’s a start.

 

Rough medicine: Did this man really deserve a jail sentence?

 

 

On Thursday of last week a small report in the national newspapers told us that a family doctor in north county Dublin had been sent to jail for sixteen months for failure to pay almost €100,000 in income tax.

  The doctor, Dr. Bassam Naser, who has lived in Ireland for thirty years, and who has seven children, admitted his wrongdoing and was prepared to pay the €100,000 that he owed –and indeed had a cheque in court to cover the entire amount. Despite this, and the fact that he does a huge amount of charity work for his native Palestine, and that he has a vibrant popular medical practice, the Judge in his wisdom felt that he should send this man to prison.

  Now I am aware that people should pay their taxes, and I am not privy to all the relevant information that the good Judge had in front of him, but in this case I cannot see any benefit in sending a hard-working family man to jail.

  Every so often there is a list of tax defaulters published in the national newspapers, and in many cases the amounts involved can be much greater than the €100,000 that the doctor owed – and I have never heard of any of those people being incarcerated.

  I would have to say that back in the day tax evasion seems to have been almost a popular way of life amongst a lot of our ‘bigger’ business people.

  On the same page in the paper, there was a story of a 20-year-old lad who stole a bus while drunk, drove it around the M18 motorway, crashed it into a wall, doing more than €5,000 worth of damage to the bus (and the wall), and who then walked free from court – well, with fines totalling €600 and a four-year driving ban.

  Now, again I accept he made a stupid mistake, and more than likely won’t re-offend, but why he avoided prison when his drunk-driving could have resulted in a major accident (particularly on a motorway) – and the doctor didn’t – makes me once again wonder at the workings of our legal system.

  There seems to be a lot of disquiet about the prison sentence handed down to Dr. Naser, so  maybe something might yet be done. Personally I hope he is pardoned, let him pay what he owes, get on with his daily work, and continue to give what appears to be an excellent service to his many happy clients.

  Just out of curiosity I decided to have a look at the last list of tax defaulters published in Stubb’s Gazette, and in the last few years there were judgements of up to €750,000, several in the €300,000-€400,000 bracket, loads more above €200,000, a good number around the €100,000 figure, and as far as I could see they all came to some agreement with the Revenue, were listed as tax defaulters, and no-one was either sent to jail or criminalised.

  Why there is one law for the ‘Good Doctor’ and another one for the hundreds if not thousands of other tax avoiders beats me, and my gut reaction is that it’s very unfair and not morally correct.

Thank God for sporting heroics

All I can say is thank God for all the magnificent sports people who week in week out put on amazing entertainment in so many different sports to keep all of us sport fanatics glued to the TV screens. 

  Normally, with another local Galway- Roscommon derby on the horizon next Sunday, and the start of the 2018 Soccer World Cup also happening this week, those would be the events which would be occupying my mind on this lovely Monday morning.

  However, over the weekend there were a few happenings in other sports that captured my attention, notably the achievement of tennis player Rafael Nadal, when despite an agonising attack of cramp in – of all places – his serving hand, he won an incredible 11th French Open.

  I am not a regular viewer of tennis matches, so when I used my parental prerogative to watch the last couple of sets – instead of the Dublin and Longford mismatch – I have to admit that my popularity in the home was at an all-time low. However, the Spaniard overcame every obstacle and deservedly made his own piece of history, and at 32 years of age he – along with Roger Federer – is proving that the elder statesmen are still capable of dominating a game that is generally regarded as a young man’s sport.

  In boxing, Tyson Fury made a winning comeback in a fight that was a complete joke, when he forced Sefer Seferi, a limited opponent who was nearly 5 stone lighter than Fury, to retire after 4 rounds of comic book boxing. As I watched the action (not sure that’s the right word), the only thought in my mind was…if by any chance Fury slipped and fell on his opponent he might conceivably kill him – he definitely wasn’t going to do any major damage with his punching.

  Talking of punching, an unusual incident took place on Sunday during what was described as a weighing room fracas in Goodwood, when two jockeys, Raul Da Silva and Jim Crowley, had a disagreement which ended with Da Silva punching the former champion jockey, splitting his lip, and incurring a 21-day riding ban for ‘violent conduct’. We are always being told about the great camaraderie that exists between all the jockeys. Obviously not in this case, but why they bothered beats me – as Da Silva had finished last of nine runners, with Crowley in fifth place.

  That was certainly a battle of two lightweights, but back to next Sunday’s Connacht final and we have two heavyweights in Western football going head to head in a mouthwatering clash in the Hyde. I have my ticket got, must dig out my fading Tommy Varden jersey, and be ready for another Titanic battle.

  I won’t be popular with followers of the Tribesmen, but I am not convinced that they are deserving of all the hype they are getting, and bearing in mind that the Rossies beat them by nine points in Salthill last year, I am giving a very hesitant and reluctant vote to Roscommon, and I fear we’ll have another sad Sunday evening in Mikeen’s listening to the pontifications of our victorious neighbours.

  However, hope springs eternal, and maybe Damien Comer and the lads can dig deep and avenge last year’s defeat. Wouldn’t I, like Kevin Keegan famously said, love that!

And finally…

Finally for this week, the funds from the Barrie Harris Walk were distributed at a ‘do’ in Mikeen’s on Saturday night last, and we had a great night of music, porter and craic. To my cardiologist’s delight, I polished off several sandwiches, lovely cream eclairs and a few slices of Bina’s fabulous apple pie.

  I am back in training for the next St. Stephen’s Day Walk, and Saturday night’s break-out on the confectionary front is my last for at least a week or two as I have to mind my figure. Anyway, it was a great night, the Walk as usual was a great success, and almost €12,000 is being distributed to many worthy charities.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

First Dates Singapore special…it’s exclusive!

 

‘In the First Dates restaurant, 72-year-old Donald arrives…looking for companionship’.

  (I’m trusting most readers have seen the hit TV show!).

  Voiceover Guy has set the scene. We cut to footage of a confident, nay arrogant, tall man with remarkable hair and pursed lips walking briskly towards the First Dates restaurant. He brushes past the host and props himself on a stool at the bar, airily checking the joint out for mirrors.

  The barman asks the usual question.

  “Good evening Sir, and what type of partner are you looking for?”

  Donald looks at the young man dismissively, then relaxes.

  “Oh just someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, someone who’s a bit of fun…likes golf, maybe someone like me…er…impulsive, with a hint of danger, unpredictable”.

  He asks for a soft drink, takes out his iPhone and tweets about the Canadian Prime Minister. ‘Loser!’

  Back to Voiceover Guy’s soothing tones and footage of a small man with glasses and a toy gun striding confidently through the Singapore Square (it’s a First Dates Singapore special). 

  “Also looking for companionship is 34-year-old Kim Jong Un from North Korea, who has never dated before but who says he’s ready to check out the scene”.

  Viewers see Kim arrive in the First Dates restaurant. Donald’s head turns. The two men make slightly shy eye contact and then embrace and shake hands for ages.

  “Where are you from?” Donald asks.

  “North Korea. And you?”

  “A different planet” mutters the barman under his breath. Trump shoots him a grimace.

  The show’s host asks if they’d like to move into the dining area. Donald ushers Kim in.  

  “It’s gonna be great!” he says, admiring his reflection in a glass.

  Kim Jong Un puts the toy gun down, smiles and relaxes.

  Later, Donald insists on paying, one eye on the camera.

  “I can go halves…” says Kim.

  “No, I’ll get this” insists Donald, making sure not to tip.

   Later, they sit down together in front of the camera.

  “Hi”.

  “Hi again”.

  Kim break the ice. “At least our date didn’t bomb!”

  Donald splutters, then recovers.

  Voiceover Guy: “Would you like to meet again?”  

  Kim: “Yeah, maybe as friends…not sure if I felt a spark…”

  Donald: “Yeah, I’d like to meet again. Kim’s lovely. And I’ve had some erratic first dates in the last year or two…there was Angela…terrible…Theresa…terrible…Justin, really let me down…bad guy…Macron, not sure what to make of him. That Enda guy, nice, but did my head in, Leo...he was okay I guess…I’d like to bring Rocket Man, I mean Kim, to America, we could go out together…I think we can be friends. Put that damn gun down, Kim!”  

  Voiceover Man: “In our next episode, Donald returns to the First Dates restaurant where he meets a new friend. Vladimir is 65 and from Russia…he likes riding horses bareback and invading countries”.

 

That last Papal visit (and an escape from Mountjoy)

 

Iconic helicopter images?

  Well, there was that famous one of President Ronald Reagan, emerging from/getting into a helicopter and being asked some unwelcome question by reporters.

  Reagan didn’t fancy addressing whatever controversy had the media’s interest.

  He flashed that famous smile, gestured to the whirring helicopter blades…and put his hand to his ear to suggest that he couldn’t hear the reporters’ question due to the noise from the helicopter!

  There’s the evocative opening scenes in M*A*S*H, the classic US comedy/drama from the 1970s/’80s, based on the Korean War. Shots of helicopters arriving at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, with more war wounded – and of course that immortal theme tune – remain in the memory. (You can check out M*A*S*H re-runs on GOLD).

  We had our own slightly famous helicopter moment in Rooskey many years ago. In 1973, some IRA prisoners escaped from Mountjoy Prison when a helicopter was hijacked and landed in the prison yard.

  A week later, that very same helicopter and its pilot landed at the back of Tony Fallon’s pub in Rooskey, on a social visit. I know, ‘cos I was there. I hasten to add that the onlookers gathered not because of any association with the Mountjoy episode, but simply because of the novelty of seeing a helicopter up close.

  My favourite helicopter story however came to mind this week when details of the Pope’s visit to Ireland (I almost wrote Rooskey) were confirmed. He’s not coming to Rooskey, but Pope Francis is coming to Knock in County Mayo.

  Those of us who were around will never forget the excitement and atmosphere which surrounded the last Papal visit to Ireland, that of Pope John Paul, in 1979.

  Pretty much everyone in the country went to see him at one of his public appearances. We went to Maynooth, where thousands of people gathered from the early hours of the morning for the outdoors Papal Mass.

  We had the same experience as everyone else: a very, very early start, a long drive in the dark of night, then we blended with big queues and enormous crowds and then…the long wait. I have a feeling that Fr. Michael Cleary was on the huge altar/stage, one of the many clergy present. A few years earlier the self-styled ‘Singing Priest’ had performed on stage in our bar near Rooskey, the Kon Tiki. He was late by two hours that night, and by his own admission drove through red (traffic) lights to get to Rooskey. Even if he was ‘on stage’ in Maynooth it probably wasn’t the time to say ‘Do you remember the night…?’

  The waiting was long, but there was a great atmosphere, a great sense of expectation. Finally, many hours after the crowds had assembled, the helicopter appeared through the clouds.

  The helicopter circled a few times in the sky. It could have landed anywhere in those huge fields adjoining Maynooth College. Soon it became apparent that it was going to land in a field just to the left of where we were standing. There was a rush of people to the barrier/fencing between us and the landing area. I reached that border and no more than thirty or forty feet away, the helicopter landed, the charismatic Pope emerged and – staring straight at us – he gave a friendly wave.

  The first mobile phone complete with camera was invented 21 years later.

 

Oh Lord! Why no mention of Castlerea?

 

Monday

 

The good news was that Clonalis House in Castlerea featured on RTE television on Monday evening – the bad news, according to some readers, is that Castlerea itself didn’t feature!

  As part of a new series – ‘Lords & Ladles’ – Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio and Paul Flynn visited Clonalis House in Co. Roscommon, ancestral home of Ireland’s last high king – and they prepared a 14th century feast.

  Their experience was highlighted on RTE 1 TV on Monday evening. 

  However, a couple of Castlerea residents contacted the Roscommon People to vent their frustration at what they saw as the regrettable overlooking of Castlerea town itself.

  One said: “The programme featured Clonalis House, and we’re proud of that, but there wasn’t a single mention of Castlerea! Why was Castlerea overlooked? A number of people are talking about it”. 

  Another reader contacted us with the same complaint, commenting: “There was an opportunity to showcase the town, or at least mention it, but this opportunity was missed”. 

 

 

 

A day with the ‘horsey set’ – and reflections on that phantom goal

 

It’s the Bank Holiday Monday, and I’m up with the lark (well maybe a slightly lazy lark), feeling fit as a fiddle (maybe a slightly rusty one), after a Sunday night spent at home (not a pint to be seen), watching the Sunday Game, and like the rest of the country, enjoying some extraordinary hurling drama, drama that I will get to a bit later on in the piece.

  Anyway, on Monday the big question was “where would we go?” There was a festival on in Loughglynn, the big fair day and loads of other attractions in Athleague, the final day of the Bloom Festival was on in Dublin, all attractive places to spend a few relaxing hours, but in the end we didn’t go to any of them – instead we hit for Mullingar, where a big international showjumping competition was taking place.

  Now I knew there had been qualifiers for several different classes taking place all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but nothing could, or would, have prepared us for the sheer size of the whole event.

  The first thing we saw was literally hundreds of horse lorries, horseboxes pulled by jeeps, vans, cars and SUVs, and there were people (old and young) everywhere, and as for ponies and horses…there had to be thousands of them there.

  Our girl, Tara, who had a very successful show, had arranged to meet us, but we didn’t realise there were four big outdoor sand arenas, all hosting different competitions, along with warm-up areas, bars, fast food outlets, ice cream sellers, horse clothing stalls and hurdy gurdy stalls all over the massive area. It took a few minutes and a few phone calls before we finally met up.

  Anyway she was involved in a competition in which 176 horses had taken part over the three days, so as that was only one of several different competitions, it will give you an idea of how many horses and riders had come to Mullingar. So she headed off to do her stuff and we pottered round the place.

  There was a major international show taking place on the Main Arena, with prize-money of €25,000, so the attendance there was huge, but we rambled from arena to arena and had great fun watching all the classes from ponies with children as young as four years old to fellas as long in the tooth as myself. I have to say it was a great day’s entertainment.  

  The Mullingar Equestrian Centre is just out of this world, and worth a visit if you get the chance. The organisation, from parking to looking after very busy toilets, to even picking up the rubbish, was first class, and before I finish I have to say that we had the nicest burgers we ever tasted from the Arena’s food area. In total, there was €100,000 on offer, and with the prize-money so big, needless to say the riders and horses came from all over the country  and further afield too. In our short enough visit we met people from Tyrone, Waterford, Donegal and Tipperary.

  Now I am the first to admit that I am not a horsey person, but I did enjoy the day out. If Mullingar was anything to go by, the horse industry seems to be in fairly good health, even to my uneducated eye.

  Anyway, back to the hurling drama, and as we watched one of the jumping competitions we got talking to a young couple with three children, who were seated beside us. They were from Bernaderg, Padraig Joyce country, and it transpired that the man, Paul, was the son of Oliver King, a great Galway man who had been a guard in Creggs and who had introduced a lot of us to the game of hurling way back in the 1980s. It also happened that Oliver was the umpire at the Tipp/Waterford match, the one who didn’t flag (lucky for him) the controversial goal, so he’s blameless, but in this day and age, with so much riding on the result of these big games, it was one of the most outrageous umpiring and refereeing errors of all time.

  The Waterford manager, Derek McGrath, was amazingly forgiving about it all, but surely goal-line technology has to be brought into most if not all of the major hurling grounds. Thankfully when Oliver lined out for Creggs in the junior hurling championship our backline was so watertight that no ball ever got near the goal, and as a result we never needed any major umpiring decisions. Come to think of it, we never had any umpires so controversy never arose.

Like Karius, I  had concussion…

 Talking of goals, and errors, way back in the 1980s I let in one of the softest goals of all time in the County Final against Ballinameen. What happened? I let a long-range kick bounce off the ground, and thinking it was going wide, I made no effort to stop it. Of course it ended up in the back of the net.

 

  It was something similar to what the Liverpool goalie (Karius) did in the recent Champions League final (although he at least tried to save their third goal), but now it seems that, according to doctors in the U.S., he was suffering from concussion after a clash with Sergio Ramos (who else?).

  For a long time the goal that I conceded has been heavy on my mind, but I finally know what happened, and I am now declaring that I too was concussed on that fateful day (as I certainly had a headache the following morning). Like Karius, I am not to blame for that unfortunate concession.  

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, don’t forget the Barrie Harris funds are being distributed this Saturday night in Mikeen’s in Creggs.

  There will be music, refreshments and craic, and all are welcome. It will kick off about 9.30 pm, so we’ll see you there.

Till next week, Bye for now!

No disclosure, no truth and no transparency leads to treachery

Carlsberg don’t do conniving, deceiving, scheming, murky scandals…but if they did, Ireland might be their biggest seller! Neither, BTW, does Carlsberg do nicely, nicely, softly, softly ‘revelations’.…but if they did, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone would win the prize for her use of sanitised, flattening and understated language when describing the historical adoption impropriety relating to 126 babies (most likely only the tip of the iceberg) in Ireland as being “incorrect registrations”. 

  I was personally impressed by the look of utter shock displayed on Ms. Zappone’s face during her press communiqué, appearing as if this disclosure was all a shocking and surprising piece of news to her. Perhaps Carlsberg should do best actress gongs and award her one!

  Now readers, I’ve got great respect for Minister Zappone, but at the centre of this scandal are 126 (at least) human beings and their families, and, as my mouth is not a bakery, so I don’t ever sugar-coat, nor do I put jam on anything, unlike the Minister, I’m gonna tell it like it is! The State hawked, trafficked, stole and sold babies; babies who are human beings and Irish citizens and collaborated in illegal adoptions; something which is a criminal act.

  In addition, does anyone else feel this ‘revelation’, coming hot on the heels of the massive Yes vote, has a kind of cruel irony to it? Of course this is not a ‘revelation’ at all; not to me, and not to countless others. You see, a close family member was illegally adopted, something which I discovered accidentally when I was just 17 and I was carrying out painstaking research (in the days before the World Wide Web), and I began exploring my family’s origins.

  You see, I was sure I was adopted myself. I’m not, but due to feeling totally out of sync with my family, okay, with my own mother, during my analysis, I made a disturbing discovery. Anyhow, this is not entirely my story to tell, but it does involve me, and I will be pushing and pursuing this outrageous, immoral and unethical act until I receive full disclosure because, due to my family member’s illegal adoption all those years ago, news of which I had to break to them, (bear in mind I was only 17), like everyone, I have a right to know who I am and where I come from.

  Of course there was a father involved in all of these tragic cases. These unfortunate women whose babies were stolen were not all bestowed the virtues of a miraculous immaculate conception. There are men, cowardly deserters handed get-out-of-jail-free cards who abandoned, shunned and neglected these pregnant women; who washed their hands of them, forsaking them to the fate of criminal baby snatchers, who sold their infants to the highest bidder through a thriving network across a black market adoption ring, i.e. the Catholic Church and the State!

 

We are never, ever,

ever…getting back together!

 

She may be a 10-time Grammy award winning performer but Taylor Swift certainly won’t win any prizes for her geographical skills, or should I say, lack thereof! In advance of the warbler’s June 15th Croke Park gig, Katy Perry’s nemesis, @taylowswift13: posted via Instagram, ‘I missed you UK! We’ll be back to see you SO soon on the Reputation Stadium Tour at Etihad Stadium in Manchester (June 8 and 9), Croke Park in Dublin (June 15 and 16), and Wembley Stadium in London (June 22 and 23)!’ 

  Ooookaaayy…deep breath…we are NOT British!

  Now, here’s a brief history lesson for you Taylor. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Let me clarify that I mean no disrespect to my lovely British pals, my British readers or my darling hubby; but, for centuries, the British threw their weight around trying to build an empire. One of the countries they targeted was Ireland. Why? Well, probably because everyone loves the Irish and maybe those fierce, fighting chaps just wanted a little piece of that luurrrvee action; maybe they just needed a big hug. However, they soon realised that oppressing us, starving us and murdering us, was not the way forward; especially as we fought back with everything we had. 

  However, despite the fact there once was ‘bad blood’ (see wha’ I did there Taylor?), we’re all friends now, and we love our neighbours, those jolly, terribly polite bad-ass Brits. 

  But, just in case my little lesson has gone completely over that cute blonde mane of yours Tay-Tay, let me put it in the words of your own songs…We, (the Irish), ‘got smarter’. We ‘got harder in the nick of time,’ and we kicked ass and rebelled. So, while ‘the world moves on, another day, another drama, drama,’ when it comes to our relationship with the UK…how can I put it? Oh yeah…‘We, are never, ever, ever…getting back together!’

  Yes, we forgave the British, we’re good like that; and we love them. Sure it’s all water under the bridge now isn’t it. But, for future reference Tay-Tay, if you, or anyone else ever decides to make that massive cock-up again, and think it’s okay to lump us, (a different country, a different nation, with our own unique language and identity), in with being part of the UK, let me assure you that ‘I’ve got a list of names and your’s is in red… underlined! Geddit love? Enjoy your visit to our Emerald Isle; I’m sure your Reputation Stadium Tour will be amazing.

 

 

Sure how could you not have the Connacht Final in the Hyde?

 

 

Good news then; great news in fact. Not only will Kevin and the team be at the Hyde on June 17th, the other Kevin and his team will be there too.

  Of course we always expected that the Hyde would get this game; mind you, the Connacht Council has fairly laid down the law, so to speak (see details on page 48).

  The Council has basically said: ‘You can have your party this time, but there will be no more parties until you attend to all those housekeeping issues that we’ve been going on about!”

  As we go to press, the alarming word from County Board Chairperson Seamus Sweeney is that the housekeeping issues could carry a €3m price tag.

  If the Roscommon business community could be assumed to have, metaphorically speaking, poured itself a symbolic ‘stiff drink’ to celebrate getting this year’s final, then that will have been coughed up pretty abruptly on hearing that €3m figure.

  I will leave the politics/finances of this issue for now – this week, we’ll leave the future to the future and just welcome the fact that there was a successful outcome to the frenetic behind-the-scenes manoeuvring of recent weeks. 

  We won’t be alone on June 17th, there will be no embarrassing build-up, the uncertainty is over…it’s Roscommon v a mean and mighty Galway, it’s game on!

  It’s going to be a great occasion for the county town, for the people of Roscommon, for the GAA.

  The Hyde on Connacht Final day, indeed the town on Connacht Final day, is truly special. On these days, anticipation and nervous excitement intertwine to create a very special atmosphere. 

  For Roscommon fans, the Hyde will always be the perfect Connacht Final venue. It’s our home, our would-be fortress, our familiar theatre of dreams.

  I first lived my Hyde dreams through the heroes of the late 1970s. I was drawn to the Hyde in those days by childhood wonder and the rock ‘n’ roll swagger of the Roscommon team of that era.

  Eight or nine of us were bundled into a small car in Rooskey on one Connacht Final morning, and off the driver sped, devouring road with zeal. We waved our crepe hats and visualised what wonders we might witness in an hour or two.

  As kids, we became used to witnessing Roscommon victories – there was that Connacht four-in-a-row from 1977 to ’80 (which I may have mentioned before). It turns out we were being spoilt.

  When I was sports reporting in the 1980s in the now sadly defunct Champion, I routinely referred to it as ‘the decade of despair’; a barren, chastening era for Roscommon footballers.

  In 1989, we almost escaped that unwelcome epitaph for that unforgiving decade. Losing in the dying seconds of that year’s Connacht Final replay at the Hyde, Roscommon flirted with glory when Tony McManus calmly converted a penalty; the stadium erupted, Mayo heads collapsed into Mayo hands. The premature celebrations of delirious Roscommon fans were part-shared on the pitch; fatally, some Roscommon players lost concentration. Mayo launched a desperate attack, time threatened to stand still and then a Michael Fitzmaurice free levelled for Mayo. Extra-time, hearts in mouths, anguish that we hadn’t sealed the deal. Next, seesaw exchanges before Jimmy Bourke scrambled home one of the ugliest goals of all time, the ball almost apologetically crossing the line. Mayo won. A sickener!

  In 1990, our Connacht title winning famine finally ended, Martin McDermott the calm manager of what will always be a fondly-remembered team. They retained the title too, in ’91.

  Gerry Lohan’s last-minute goal in 2001 won the title for Roscommon (against Mayo), a sensational late drama which now has a special place in folklore.

  In 2010, we were just back in Rosslare after a holiday in France when we tuned into the tense closing minutes of the Roscommon/Sligo final. Fergal O’Donnell’s Roscommon were outsiders that day. It was agony listening to those final minutes as we disembarked, agony followed by joy. Missing that one in the flesh was tough, but of course we’d had a great holiday!

  Hyde Park on Connacht Final day is about the football, it’s all about the football, but there’s other stuff too.

  There’s the sheer adrenalin rush you feel all morning, meeting familiar faces as you pick up a Sunday paper, everyone tuned into the same wavelength today. There’s the flags and the banners, the sheds painted in your county’s colours, the bunting at schools. All week, there’s the largely pointless but priceless pub debates on what might unfold. There’s the media interest. On match morning, there’s the growing buzz in town, the ‘early comers’ at the Hyde, the cones in place, the building momentum, the day’s mystery soon to be revealed. Then, the cars and buses, and the faithful are arriving.

  Ten days and counting – down. A new script to be written. Two Kevins, two teams, one prize.

  Sure how could you not have the Connacht Final in the Hyde?

‘Real’ plight for ‘Pool: Karius and Bale…you couldn’t make it up!

 

 

Exaggeration and sport definitely go hand in hand, and even at low levels of competition, some sporting achievements grow legs, and especially in rugby. Tries by prop forwards, which, in reality, were nothing more than a push and a grunt from a yard or two, eventually involved a couple of 100 yard sprints, several outrageous dummies, before a scoring finish, completed by a flying dive, that would do justice to an Olympic high-diving final.

  Even in my unremarkable rugby career I once upon a time dropped a goal for Dundalk against Longford, in a Provincial towns cup game, from just about the halfway line, which in fairness was quite a decent kick!

  In Dundalk at the time, one of the great characters was a fellow called Paddy Boland, who was universally known as ‘the Bowler’, and who had, for some reason, good time for me. Before I left the Co. Louth town, the Bowler would tell anyone who cared to listen that my kick was scored from all of one hundred yards. It is doubtful if it was even half that far, but time and several pints of the best McArdles ale gave it the extra fifty or so yards.

  Another time, when I was enjoying a very short football career with Roscommon, Telefis Eireann showed highlights of the Rossies’ league match of 1974 – in which I took part – against the then All-Ireland champions, Cork.

  A number of our Creggs rugby lads were watching the game in the rugby club in Sligo, and by some miracle, I scored a goal and a couple of points, and so moved by my performance was a member of the audience, a Ballinasloe man who was also a selector with the Connacht junior rugby side, that he announced to all and sundry that I would be playing with the Connacht juniors, and that I, as a scrum-half, had a forty-yard pass. Now, he was totally carried away, because firstly I wasn’t picked for the Juniors, but, more importantly, my maximum pass, even with a gale-force wind helping me, would have been closer to forty feet (some might even say forty inches) than forty yards.

  All of these things flashed through my mind on Saturday evening as I watched Liverpool’s valiant bid for European honours being dismantled by a combination of Mo Salah’s injury, a goal by Gareth Bale that has to be the best ever scored in a Champions League final, and two of the greatest goalkeeping errors of all time, and I thought to myself that no amount of exaggeration can ever come close to the reality of the actual events.

  Now I have never tried to hide the fact that I am a long-time supporter of Manchester Utd., but for some reason I have never bought into the supposed hatred that exists between Liverpool and Utd. I actually have a high regard for the Merseyside Reds, and I was definitely not amongst the Utd. fans who hoped for a Madrid victory.

  Now because we had such a wonderful couple of years with Ronaldo, I would still have a soft spot for him, but as I settled down to watch the final, I really wasn’t bothered as to who would win, and all I was hoping for was a match worthy of the occasion. And so the stage was set for a great game, and for the first half hour or so, it looked as if Liverpool were by far the better team. They had the much-vaunted Madrid men chasing shadows. Then everything changed when the wonderful Mo Salah went off injured – and from there to the finish the game had a totally different feel. 

  And yet Madrid were doing nothing to suggest they were capable of winning their three-in-a-row, until the Liverpool goalie, Karius, made the first of two unbelievable mistakes that nothing could prepare him or the supporters or the management team for. The two errors he made will never be forgotten by any of the millions of people who saw them, and as I say, the enormity of the mistakes can never be exaggerated. My immediate reaction is to be sorry for Karius, and I genuinely hope he can get over the terrible personal disappointment that he suffered, and maybe he can still have a decent career, but probably not in Liverpool. And then we had the Bale overhead kick that was just sensational, and all of a sudden, and totally undeservedly, Real Madrid were celebrating their own momentous achievement and Jurgen Klopp and his men were left to dwell on what might have been.

  I like Klopp, and I was proud to see him singing with a group of supporters at six o’clock the next morning –definitely my type of manager. I for one believe he will conquer England and Europe in the next few years.

A hero amidst the horror

The brutal murders of Jastine Valdez, Ana Kriegel and Cameron Reilly in the last few weeks have both shocked and horrified the nation, and begs the question as to what kind of society we have become.

  All three incidents resulted in three young, innocent lives being lost in the most appalling circumstances, but I have to say that the possibility that Cameron Reilly was actually killed in front of a number of witnesses, male and female, who watched as he was strangled to death, and did nothing to prevent it, and have kept their mouths shut since, is just mind-boggling.

  If it is true, then I sincerely hope the Gardai can get to the bottom of it and ensure that everyone there pays the price for their actions – or in this case their inactions.

  Compare that to the heroism displayed by Mamoudou Gassama, the 22-year-old illegal immigrant in Paris, when he scaled a four-storey apartment building with his bare hands to save a four-year-old child from falling to a certain death, without any thought for his own safety. How good to know that in a world that seems to have less and less regard for morals, or human goodness, there is still an odd one out there that can restore some faith in human nature – I am delighted to see that the French have acknowledged the young man’s magnificent deed by making him a citizen, offering him a job with the Fire Brigade and arranging a private meeting with the French Michael D., President Emmanuel Macron. As they say over there Bien joue – that’s ‘well done’ in French.

And finally…

Finally for this week, our own First Lady out here in Creggs – Bina Harris – tells me that the distribution of the proceeds of the Barrie Harris Walk will take place in Mikeen’s on Saturday, 9th of June at 10 pm, and there will be music, all kinds of goodies, and a bit of craic. Everyone is invited.

  In this area, the Barrie Harris Walk is by far the biggest and best fundraiser, and each year contributes hugely to several local and indeed national and international charities, and the walk itself has become such an important event that people travel from all over the country to take part each St. Stephen’s Day.

  So make a date in your diary and head to Mikeen’s on Saturday, 9th of June, and we’ll see you there for a few pints and a bit of fun – might even get a song from the legendary Danny Burke.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Roscommon