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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

The Pope and his Skoda…

 

 

 

It’s a pleasant enough Monday morning, and unusually for me, myself and the now trusty old Volvo are heading off to work in Athlone (just me, not the Volvo), and my mind drifts back to the days before electric window winders, and computers, and all the new-fangled gadgets that are part and parcel of the modern car.

  The reason it’s unusual for me to be heading for Athlone is that, nowadays, I only do three days – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – but as one of the lads (Paul) is off gallivanting round Latvia on his holidays, I am covering for him for this coming week.

  Anyway, as I’m driving to Athlone, I’m thinking of the fact that, even in the now trusty old Volvo, the teething problems that I had at the start were all due to problems with the computer, and apparently it was coming up with all kind of mixed messages, all of which meant that the car would decide to stop for no reason – or not start at all. Until I got it sorted I had a very frustrating and annoying time.

  Anyway, it all made me think back to the days of my first cars, one of the first being a Hillman Avenger that needed one wheel on the front to be bigger than the other three to compensate for the knock on the steering; a beautiful Sunbeam Vogue that I bought before I knew how to drive at all (it had the most amazing walnut interior); a Vauxhall Viva the driver’s window of which was held in place with a couple of blocks of wood…and an Opel Ascona, whose back door fell off while we were coming back from holidays in Donegal. My wife Carol had to hold it in place all the way back to Creggs.

  The funny thing about all the cars back then was that everything was so simple. There were no electronic yokes to worry about, and if there was petrol in them, more often than not they would go. If not, it was nearly always the starter, or the alternator, or the distributor cap, things you never hear about any more.

  Generally, no matter how big the problem was, our two (at the time) local garage men – Barry Harris and Jimmy Connelly – would have you back on the road in no time.

  It all made me think of an old friend and brother-in-law, Tom Bracken, who usually managed to have even worse cars than I had. Among his many bangers was what we, Tom included, agreed was the worst of all – a rear-engined Skoda that gave more trouble than the worst ever juvenile delinquent. 

  At the time, the Lada, as far as I remember a Russian-made car, was the supposed worst one on the road (and the subject of many jokes) but the Skoda was easily the next most denigrated.

  When Tom had it, it more than lived up to its woeful reputation. So to read in all today’s papers that Pope Francis is to be driven around Ireland in a Skoda, suggests to me that this must constitute the greatest of all comebacks – well, since Lazarus or Tiger Woods.

  No-one yet knows what model he will be driven in, but it is unlikely to have an engine in the back, and even more unlikely to break down. Sadly my brother-in-law is no longer with us, but if he was he would take great pleasure in telling us he was a great judge of a car, and if it was good enough for the Pope, it was good enough for him!

  It’s only a couple of weeks now ‘till the Pontiff arrives on our shores, and I just hope the visit goes well. While the excitement of 1979 is unlikely to be repeated, it should still be an occasion to be remembered.

 

Country stars and festivals: Are (some) prices too high?  

 

As the summer comes to an end, and all the local committees who ran festivals begin to tot up the figures, I wonder if it’s true that some country and western artists – who are capitalising on the new upsurge in popularity of country music – are in danger of pricing themselves out of what seems to be a very lucrative market.

  At least two local festivals that I know of have totally ‘downsized’ this last year or so, and I understand that a big factor was because of the prices headline acts are charging. Inevitably the prices being paid to artists are having a big impact on profits (for the festivals). I have heard reports of one artist (and band) allegedly costing €15,000.

  Now nobody is saying that these artists are not deserving of big paydays, but bearing in mind that there are only so many country music venues – unlike in the showband era when every crossroads had a carnival – surely there should be a limit on the percentage breakdown in favour of the bands, in order to give the local festivals a chance to make some money.

  Insurance costs for any public event are enormous and it would be a shame if any more of these local events were forced out of business. As a follower of country music, I am glad to see there are more and more artists appearing almost every week. That’s great, but don’t let greed kill the golden goose.

Walk the walk with Suck Valley Walking Club

On to local matters…the Suck Valley Walking Club are holding a Walk from Ballygar to Creggs on Saturday, 18th of August, with registration at the Heritage Centre in Creggs at 9.30 am.

  The distance is approximately 16km, transport will be provided to the start of the Walk, and there will be refreshments provided on return to Creggs. You are advised to wear appropriate footwear and clothing, cover charge is €10, and you will enjoy a nice chat, a bit of craic, and get yourself a bit fitter.

  Also, the Suck Valley Way website is being launched, and they would like to hear from anyone who would like to provide accommodation in the locality (for inclusion on the new website). Contact Kathy at suckvalleyway.com or text 086-8725445.

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, we have only five weeks left to the fundraising dance in Dowd’s in Glinsk. We will be out and about selling the tickets, so hopefully we will see you soon, and we look forward to your continuing support.

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

A weekend of sporting highs

It’s the bank holiday Monday, and as I’m writing this at the kitchen table, I can only say that it’s been one of the best sporting weekends that I can ever remember.

  It started off on Friday evening, when myself, my brother Duff, James Gavin and Jim Roarke met up at Roscommon Golf Club and played 18 holes in the Creggs Rugby Club Classic.

  While we didn’t get the call to go back in for the presentation ceremony (which presumably means we didn’t win), we had good fun and thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

  Roscommon is a long course, so by the time we played the last hole it was nearly pitch dark, and I spent several minutes looking for my ball, which by some miracle was sitting pretty in the middle of the green. There was some speculation that it might have been placed there by the hand of God, but I categorically deny any wrongdoing. It was on the green as a result of a brilliant shot that no-one, including myself, managed to see.

  As it was about the only time I got on the green in what they call regulation figures, I have now decided to play all my future golf at night. Maybe I will produce better scores that way.  

  Anyway, on to Saturday, and the bane of my life – work – meant that I was in the shop in Athlone while the Irish ladies hockey team were trying to pull off one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time by becoming the first Irish team in any sport to qualify for a World Cup Final. When they beat Spain in a penalty shoot-out, the radio – and Des Cahill – was pure radio gold.

  Within a few minutes of the match finishing and Ireland going through to Sunday’s final against the incredibly talented Dutch, we were listening to messages from a lad cutting silage somewhere on his tractor who told us he was crying his eyes out at the result (hope it wasn’t that he was broken down);  another visitor to the Clonmacnoise early Christian site rang to say she had spent the duration of the game praying for a win, and Des told us that in all his years presenting the sports show they had never seen a reaction like it, and the number of messages into RTE surpassed anything they had encountered before.

  In fairness, for an amateur team who were competing with several full-time professional players, it was a stupendous achievement, and in a small country where we have had outstanding female sportswomen – like Sonia O’Sullivan, Katie Taylor, Catherina McKiernan and the golfing Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa – these hockey players have elevated our status on the world stage and deserve all the praise and accolades that they will now receive.

  Their heavy defeat in the final in no way detracts from their heroic deeds, and if I had a tractor I too would have cried my eyes out.  

  By now I was on my way home, excited at the thought of watching Galway play Monaghan in the last of their Super 8s games, but if ever excitement was misplaced this most certainly was – and the stuff that was served up in Salthill should have carried a health warning –unless you were from Monaghan. But as Galway have a semi-final next Saturday against the Dubs, I will make no comment on last week’s effort, and will wish them well in a match where they will do very well to stay in touch with Jim Gavin’s men.

  The other semi-final will be a battle between Tyrone and Monaghan, and it would be a good man (or woman) who would predict that result. The popular verdict is that Tyrone will prevail, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Farney men could spring a surprise.

 

A great trip to Croker

 

The Bank Holiday Saturday night passed off quietly and peacefully. I had a few, very few, quiet pints in Mikeen’s, followed by an early bed, as I was heading to Dublin on the Sunday morning.

  This was a long-planned visit to our daughter Lisa, who lives in Malahide, but as luck would have it (maybe luck is stretching it), myself and my son Mark were given premium tickets to Croke Park, where, in case you haven’t heard, the Rossies were taking on the mighty Dubs in what was the last of their Super 8s matches.

  Off we headed on Sunday morning – after the obligatory full Irish – and, having made it to Malahide, myself and Mark hit for Croker on the Dart, where I made friends with a true blue Dub supporter  who invited us to join him and some buddies in Maher’s of Ballybough for a few beers.

  Sadly, as we wanted to see the hurling replay between Galway and Clare, we didn’t take him up on his invite and instead made for the wonderful Croke Park stadium. We made it just as the sliothar was thrown in, and I have to say the premium ticket was just something else, as we watched the game on a giant screen that that was so big, yet so clear, that you would think you were playing yourself, that in a room that had several hundred people. It was just magic.

  We had the dinner there as well…a top class helping of roast beef for me (with all the trimmings – and a good deal more), and the only thing that annoyed me was that 90% of the support was for Clare and it was the Dubs’ supporters that were fairly roaring on The Banner. When Shane O’Donnell scored the goal in the second half, the roof nearly lifted off. I have to say it was one of the great individual goals of all time, but at the time I was fit to kill half the Dubs around me, and in truth the Galway lads were outrageously lucky to win by a solitary point.

  Out then to the hallowed ground to see the football game, and as I watched the Dubs in the flesh for the first time since I togged out against them for a league match back in early 1975, my mind drifted back to that day, a day that was to be the end of my wonderful(?) intercounty career.

  It’s only now, 43 years later, that I realise I should not have been there at all, as not having turned up for the previous league game against Offaly, I must have been dropped off the panel – but nobody told me. The penny didn’t drop, even though when myself and my good mate, Jack the Lower (who was my chauffeur) turned up at the team hotel before the game, there was no food for us, only for Gerry Beirne saving the day when he managed to get some tea and sandwiches for us.

  Then when we got to Croke Park we had to plead our case to be let in at all, with Jack nearly having to pay in, until finally, having togged out with all the other lads, I realised something wasn’t right when there was no jersey for me. It didn’t finish there either as there was no room for me in the dugout, and so I sat amongst the supporters, in my togs, on a freezing cold day. As no-one would have known me they must have thought I had escaped from some institution. Besides it being the end of my career at 23 years of age, the main thing that game is remembered for is the fact that it was the only time the great Dermot Earley was sent off after he hit Bobby Doyle with a haymaker that Muhammad Ali would have been proud of.

  Anyway, my day-dreaming over, I sat down to watch the present-day Dubs, and even though it was more like a challenge match than a championship encounter, it was an education to see them in action. Their athleticism, speed, power and ability was there for all to see, but it was their workrate that impressed me the most; their willingness to chase back, even when winning by a large margin, was amazing, and they truly are an example to all who want to excel at football.

  The Rossies played their part as well, and they tried to play their football right to the end, and despite getting a bit of a beating, they contributed a lot to a game I quite enjoyed.

  There were very few Primrose and Blue colours in view, as not too many travelled to the Capital, but those that did could be proud of their team and realise they have been terrific ambassadors for their county over the last couple of years.

  As for us, we went for a lovely meal in the Scotch Bonnet in Malahide. It was just superb. We followed that with a few pints in the renowned Gibney’s pub, which was absolutely hopping on the Bank Holiday Sunday night.

  All told it was a great day, and while I won’t be there next Saturday – due to that horrible thing called work – my heart will be with Galway, and I hope they do themselves justice. Let’s hope they have a go and take on the Dubs. As Mayo have shown several times, it’s the only way.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, the posters and tickets have arrived for our annual fundraiser in Dowd’s, Glinsk, on September 15th. It’s in aid of the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West. We will be out and about from next week on calling to your houses, looking for your ever-generous support.

 

Till next week,
Bye for now!

 

 

 

Demi’s plight reminds us of need to fight drugs scourge

 

 

On August 20th, Demi Lovato will turn 26 years of age. Until about three weeks ago, I knew very little, if anything, about the American actress, singer/songwriter. Then one night I happened to see her when she was a guest on the Jonathan Ross Show, a show that was actually recorded almost a year ago (in October 2017).

  Now it turns out that Lovato is a very successful performer and has had huge successes in every facet of her career. But it was her struggles with depression, bulimia, drugs and alcohol – since she was 15 years of age – that grabbed my attention, and she was rightly proud that, in her own words, she was now sober for six years…sober in this case referring to both drugs and alcohol.

  As a guest on the Ross show, she was very entertaining, and I thought she was both interesting and attractive and, even though I knew almost nothing about her, I found myself captivated with her positive approach to her many problems.

  And so last week, in common with her many fans around the world, I was saddened to see in all the papers that she had overdosed on drugs, and was unconscious when found in her home, before being transferred to intensive care in a Los Angeles hospital. Thankfully she appears to be on the mend, and while I still wouldn’t know any of her songs, I do wish her well, and hope and pray she recovers from this hopefully temporary blip.

  As it so happens, here in Ireland the HSE has recently come under criticism because it has effectively accepted that our 15-24 year age group are amongst the highest users of drugs in Europe, and instead of sweeping the problem under the carpet they have issued instructions to users in an effort to keep them safe, and to try to ensure that we have no fatalities as a result of uneducated usage of contaminated and tampered-with substances.

  They have brought out a 10-point information leaflet, aimed at the thousands of punters who will attend the many festivals that will take place throughout the summer, and while some commentators are unhappy that there is now an acceptance that drug-taking exists – and say this leaflet actually teaches them how to use illicit drugs – I for one believe it’s a good idea. If it saves even one life, it’s a job well done.

  Every dog on the street knows that there is a huge drug problem in Ireland right now, and there isn’t a village or hinterland anywhere that isn’t affected, so any initiative to safeguard our youth has to be welcomed, and please God this one will make a difference.

 

A great day in Donamon

Last Sunday, along with a large number of people –a lot of whom were enjoying their picnics in the beautiful grounds – I found myself at the wonderful open-air concert in Donamon Castle for a while.  From what I could see, the attendance seemed to be at an all-time high. Everyone was having a good time, the music was just great, Danny Burke was doing a great job as the MC, and all told the Open Day really is a credit to everyone involved.

  All around the area festivals are popping up everywhere, and as the Bank Holiday looms, I would encourage you all to get out, support the hard-working committees who are putting the entertainment together, and show them their efforts are really appreciated.

  I remember back in the 1960s my father was secretary of the thriving Creggs Carnival, and even now looking back at it from more than fifty years, I can recall it being an all-consuming job.

  So, if you can get to Ballygar or Castlerea, or any other local town or village that is running a weekend hooley, get there and enjoy whatever entertainment they have on.

 

Extra-time periods asking too much of hurling stars?

 

As the country recovers from the excitement of the two amazing hurling semi-finals, after which Limerick qualified for this year’s All-Ireland final and Galway and Clare prepare to do it all again next Sunday, the absolute wonder must be how amateur players can get themselves into such unbelievable physical condition.

  Now I know most reports will focus on the wonderful performances and the quality and skill of everyone involved, but for me, in games that lasted 94 minutes and were played at such a fast pace, it was just extraordinary how enthralling and competitive the extra-time – particularly in the Galway-Clare match – was, and how players were still going as strongly at the end as they were at the start of the contest.

  The argument regarding the new arrival of extra-time in All-Ireland semi-finals will start again following these two games, and I agree with RTE pundit Donal O’Grady that the additional time is too much for amateur players. The two games should have gone to replays at the end of 70 minutes (anyway, the Galway match has gone to one regardless).

  The other huge question relates to the effect injuries will have, and on this Monday morning (as I write) the word from the Galway side is that both Joe Canning and Gearoid McInerney are unlikely to feature in next Sunday’s replay.

  If I was a betting man, if those two lads are missing I would have to think the pendulum has swung to The Banner, and much as I hate to say it, I fear we may have a Limerick/Clare showdown in the final.

  Just as an addition, I don’t like O’Grady as a pundit, as he’s sullen, highly critical of everyone and everything, and gives the impression that he knows it all. His own managerial career was mediocre at best, although he did steer Cork to an All-Ireland win in 2004.

  Changing to the Super 8s…this weekend should see a couple of really interesting games, and while the Rossies’ visit to Croke Park is really only a day out, at the same time I hope their supporters show up in good numbers, and I wish our own Creggs man Ger Dowd all the luck in the world (some will say he will need it), as he takes over the mantle temporarily vacated by the manager, Kevin McStay. Galway supporters will be torn between Thurles and Pearse Stadium, but I’m sure both venues will be well full. 

And finally…

Finally for this week, we now have only six weeks or so until our fundraising dance in Dowd’s, Glinsk, which is in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. We will be hitting the highways and the byways pretty soon and, as every year, we look forward to seeing you and receiving your ever-generous support.

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Facebook needs to face up to its responsibilities

 

 

On the 15th of March 2015, I must have had a fleeting thought of doing whatever it is you do to open a Facebook account, because when I decided this morning to look up what being on Facebook is all about, there it was in black and white: ‘You visited this page on 15/3/15’ – and so I gave myself a little pat on the back, because I obviously must have decided to keep my life (as much as you can when you write a column like this) to myself.

  Anyways, it said that I could keep up with my friends (that’s if I had any), faster and easier than ever, and I could share updates and photos and basically let the whole world know everything that I get up to.

  Then, as now, I couldn’t really think that anyone out there would give a damn about what time I get up at or what I have for breakfast – or any of the mundane stuff that people seem to like to share with all their so-called friends.

  However, the impression given would have been that it was all harmless enough stuff, and until the documentary that Channel 4 broadcast last week – following an undercover investigation by an investigative journalist – I would have thought that such a massive worldwide company would have the highest of standards in place.

  That clearly was not the case, as graphic images and videos of children – some as young as three years old – being brutally assaulted were uploaded and left on Facebook, as indeed was a video showing two easily identifiable teenage girls having a fairly violent fight.

  Amongst the other disturbing claims were that the reporter was told to take no action regarding a user’s age, even if they look under 13 years old, which is the minimum age for someone to have an account. The report also claims that hate speech can, in some cases, be permitted. All in all it doesn’t paint a very good picture of how Facebook does its business (apart from its financial business, which is enormously successful).

  As someone who knows nothing about Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram, or nearly anything to do with social media, it’s probable that I would never have bothered with Facebook anyway, but after seeing that Channel 4 expose I am glad I resisted the temptation to join in 2015. Like it or not, you’ll have to rely on the Roscommon People to keep up to date with my future very unexciting life.

Ridiculous stance by GAA on Miller game

Down south, in Cork, which they like to claim is the real Capital of Ireland, the problems that have arisen regarding the staging (or non-staging) of the Liam Miller fundraising match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh would almost be laughable if they weren’t so ridiculous.

  Even at this stage you would hope some common sense prevails and that the game gets the go-ahead. The outdated rules within the GAA, which, by some miracle allow, or have allowed, rugby matches, concerts, boxing and even American football to be played on Croke Park, but won’t let a soccer match take place in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, need to be revisited.

  The fact that the charity game is in honour of a young Cork man who started off as a GAA player but ended up reaching the highest level of soccer achievement by playing with Celtic, Manchester Utd. and Ireland, and who died at the very young age of 36 years, leaving a wife and young family behind, should surely be enough to get over any stupid rules and regulations.

  Bearing in mind that taxpayers pumped €30 million of our hard-earned money into the redevelopment of the venue, shouldn’t we have a say in whether or not it can be used? One of the arguments used is that Congress, which doesn’t take place until February, is the only vehicle that can change the present rules, so for me the quote of the week came from the Chairman of Monageer Boulavogue GAA Club in Wexford, who stated: “We will not be waiting on permission from Central Council every time our local primary school want to use our ground for an egg and spoon race, or every time Paddy and Mick want to play a game of racquetball in our handball alley”. Fair play to him!

  At the end of the day all it needs is a bit of common sense, and in truth the real winners would be the GAA itself, given the goodwill and positivity that it would generate. In the words of Tomas O’Se “It’s a no-brainer”.

  Let’s all hope it gets sorted and the big match between an Ireland XI and a Man. Utd. XI takes place in front of a 45,000 sell-out crowd in the new €70 million stadium.

  Staying with football, but of the GAA kind, as we suffered a humiliating first-half display in the Hyde against the Rossies in the Connacht final just over a month ago, if anyone told us at half-time in that match that Galway would now be in the All-Ireland semi-final we would have sent for the men in white coats and sought immediate psychiatric help for whoever had made such a ludicrous announcement, because, in truth, at that stage winning the Lotto or the Euromillions looked a good bit more likely.

  However, here we are towards the end of July, and it’s hard to credit how the fortunes of the two Connacht finalists have been so different. The Rossies, who in my opinion would still be very close to Galway if they were to meet them again, have had a difficult Super 8s, and still must take on the Dubs in Croker before their campaign ends. The Tribesmen, by virtue of two reasonably good wins, are only three games away from taking home the Sam Maguire.

  Now of course it looks like a foregone conclusion that the Dubs will do their four-in-a-row – it’s hard to see anyone stopping them – but by next Sunday evening only four teams will still be standing, and Galway and Dublin are already among them.

  So for me, the bottom line is that as a Galway man, I have to salute their performances. Having been highly critical of their style of play, I now have to eat a good deal of humble pie and admit that Kevin Walsh obviously knows better than I do. I would still like to see a bit more adventure in the game plan, but everyone else is at it…this blanket defence and backways and sideways passing…so, I suppose, like the old saying says, it’s a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’.

  Also, my criticism of the Super 8s may have been a bit premature, as last weekend’s games were much improved on the first week’s efforts, and three of this weekend’s matches have a lot riding on them.

  As I came home from Roscommon yesterday evening I passed two neighbouring houses, one with a Galway flag and the other with a Roscommon flag. The Galway one was flying proudly in the wind, while across the road the Roscommon one was almost limp, and I thought to myself that they reflected the present state of the fortunes of the respective teams.

  Galway are flying high right now, but of course there is no guarantee that next year Roscommon or Mayo won’t be there, so for all of us who support the maroon and white, let’s enjoy it while we can, because in sport, nothing – even the dominance of the Dubs – lasts for ever.

Don’t miss Family Day at Donamon this Sunday!

Finally for this week, don’t forget Ireland’s biggest and best free concert is taking place in Donamon Castle this Sunday. It all starts with 12.30 Mass. Parking is free.

  As there is a full preview elsewhere in the paper, I won’t go into any more detail, except to tell you that Jake Carter and his band will be there, as will many more top entertainers.

  It’s always one of the best days of the year, and this year will be even better, so don’t say no-one told you, and make sure you get to Donamon this Sunday, 29th of July, and please God I will see you there.

 

 

Till next week, Bye for now! 

Super 8s not so super…yet

 

 

It’s Monday morning, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my tablet (that’s the mini-computer that I write this stuff on, not the many little pills that I have to take to try to stay alive) in front of me, and I am trying to figure out why the first weekend of the Super 8s has left me as deflated as a burst balloon.

  All week I was excited at the wonderful games that would take place over the weekend, and even with the inconvenience of having to go to work, and knowing the World Cup final was on, I had it all sorted so that I could see all of the football games, except for the first half of the Rossies’ outing with Tyrone. Unusually, everything worked out according to plan.

  I am not going to analyse the matches themselves, but as a Galway supporter, I should be much happier this morning after we put the men from the Kingdom to the sword for the first time in the championship since 1965, a full 53 years ago.

  Last night I found myself in Mikeen’s, and, to be fair the large crowd of maroon and white followers were in high good humour, and to a man they were happily celebrating the victory – and all, including Ballygar man Bernie Mongan, were agreed that we deserved our win, and that it didn’t matter how we won, as long as we won.  

  And so, this morning I feel like a spoilsport, because I thought it was a shocking match, completely devoid of any atmosphere or intensity, and I cannot bring myself to get excited at the modern game of football, where the ball goes backwards or sideways more than it goes forward – and where the handpass has far exceeded the kick as a means of moving the ball.

  The sad thing for me is that Galway are only doing what the successful teams are doing, and maybe they have to, as the All-Ireland champions (the Dubs) played ‘keepball’ for almost the last ten minutes of their win over Donegal, and simply ran down the clock –while having 14 or even 15 men behind the ball has become the norm at intercounty level.

  The other thing that the pundits in Mikeen’s were all agreed on was that these games should never have been in Croke Park, a venue where even 20 or 30 thousand people look lost, and where there is very little atmosphere…whereas even smaller numbers in provincial grounds would generate a top class atmosphere and maybe make for more intense competition.

  However, hope springs eternal, and I am convinced that we will have four rip-roaring games this weekend, and Clones, Omagh, Newbridge and the Hyde will prove once and for all that these games belong outside of Croke Park. Just like last week I can’t wait, and hopefully this week we will see the type of games the Super 8s should deliver.

  As for the World Cup Final, which we kept hopping over to, the French were probably deserving winners, but once again the feeling persists that in big games the big decisions always go against the minnows.

  In my opinion, the decisive penalty kick for the second French goal should never have been given. I genuinely feel the Croatians were hard done by.

  However, for me, the highlight was the presentation of the medals which took place in the type of an absolute downpour that Irish Water would pay for. It proved that, in Russia, only one person matters. Three presidents –Putin, (Russia), Macron (France) and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (Croatia) – were on the podium as the rain poured down, but the only one to be covered with an umbrella was the Russian president, while Macron, in his Sunday best suit, and the Croatian president, in her Croatia red and white jersey, were absolutely soaked.

  Eventually (much too late) a couple of brollies arrived, but by then the two Presidents were soaking! To be fair, they both took it with good grace and were highly enthusiastic in their greetings to both winners and losers.

  I could only imagine if Michael D was on the podium…there would have been brollies for everyone!

Open Family Day at Donamon Castle

My good friend, Sean Beirne, tells me that not only is the Donamon Open Day coming up on the 29th of July, but – and I don’t know how he managed it – Dancing with the Stars winner Jake Carter and his band will be there, and that alone should guarantee a full house of enthusiastic young (and not so young) ladies.

  Needless to say there is also a full line-up of further entertainment, and I will tell you all next week. Definitely appearing are The Conquerors, Crazy Corner, the Castlerea Brass Band, the Duggan School of Dancing, and a new unnamed traditional group who will perform a medley of Irish music.

  All the usual features including pony rides, face-painting, bouncy castle and the wonderful book stall will be there, and I’m sure so will my favourite, the refreshment stall, selling the lovely buns and teas and coffees. Also, the Monster Draw will take place, with a first prize of €1,500. Tickets will be on sale on the day. Make sure you get there on time…you can bring your own picnic or barbeque with you (keep an old sausage or a burger for me).

  It all begins with Mass at 12.30. Parking and admission is free, and it will be one of the great days of the summer. I remember a great TV programme called Jake and the Fatman, so if I make it to Donamon we can have a re-make of the ‘60s hit series.

And finally…

Finally for this week, now that we are back on the golf course in Castlerea, the big question I have to ask is – is there any blinder junction in the whole of the country than the one where the Glinsk road meets the Glenamaddy one? 

  It’s a t junction, and you nearly have to be fully across the whole road to see traffic coming from the left. I’m no engineer, but there must be a way of making it a bit clearer –and a bit safer.

 

 

Memories of Mattie, a superstar long before the Super 8s

 

 

It’s another beautiful Monday evening, and four of us have had a couple of very enjoyable hours playing golf in the gloriously peaceful surrounds of Castlerea Golf Club. However, because of the unusual rules that we play by, (nothing criminal, only unusual), myself and my partner find that, even though we won a few holes, drew a few, and only lost one (critically the last one), we are going home as the runners-up in our mini-tournament. And for some reason – maybe the lovely weather was also a factor – I found myself transported back in time to the days when the late Mattie McDonagh – still and probably for ever more  the most decorated Connacht footballer of all time with his four All-Ireland medals – used to host a regular soccer get-together at the back of his own house, outside Ballygar. In that mini-tournament, the ‘winners’ also only had to be ahead at the final whistle.

  I encountered the great Mattie at a number of sports…including golf, racquetball, tennis, rugby, hurling, football and soccer (both indoor and outdoor). His will to win was renowned, and in our soccer outings, at a certain stage, it always went to whoever “gets the next goal wins”, no matter what the score was at the time. We all knew that the game would carry on until Mattie’s team won. Many a Sunday evening saw the concession of a soft goal to ensure that Mattie won and we could go home.

  As Roscommon and Galway head off to the Super 8s and Croke Park this weekend, I just wondered is there anyone amongst them as focused on winning as Big Matt used to be. I really hope both western teams have a right go at it. Remarkably, I know the Rossies will attack the men from Tyrone – I just hope Kevin Walsh lets the Tribesmen off the leash and they take the battle to The Kingdom. I might be in the minority, but the Dubs showed last year how to play against the blanket defence, and I am sure Kevin McStay and his merry men don’t need me to tell them how to play, although if they want to call me I will gladly help. I believe the Rossies can spring an almighty shock on Saturday evening, and pour more pressure on Mickey Harte.

  As for Galway, last year they made no effort to take on Kerry, and let what at the time was a poor enough team beat them well. For us supporters, it was almost an embarrassment. This Galway team is well capable of winning as well, and, if both were to do so, wouldn’t it be great for the West?

  I don’t know anything about the politics of the GAA (some of ye would say I know nothing about anything). A simple mind, that’s mine, but it looks to me as if it would make sense to have both Western teams in Croke Park on Sunday. However, it is not to be, although I imagine a lot of people, me included, would like to make it to both games.

 

We’ll be calling!

 

It’s amazing how quickly the time is going, and how the years are passing, and so today I rang my friend Dave in Cancer Care West to organise the printing of posters and tickets for our Annual Dance in aid of Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. It takes place this year on Saturday night, 15th of September, in Dowd’s, Glinsk, with music once again by the very popular Lancers.

  As usual we will be taking to the highways and the byways with the tickets, starting in two or three weeks’ time, so this is just a preliminary notice to let you know we will be calling, and we know you will support two very worthy causes.

 

Gearoid McInerney and Neymar…

 

The hurling last Sunday between Galway and Kilkenny was such a wonderful exciting contest that there can be no argument that hurling is one of the best, if not the best, field game of all.

  The effort put in by both sets of players was bordering on the heroic. When you compare that to the behaviour, particularly of Neymar, in the World Cup, you really have to wonder. Before I leave the World Cup – and obviously by the time this newspaper arrives in your door you will know if England have made it through to the World Cup final on Sunday, but on my way home from Castlerea on Monday night, and as I recovered from the disappointment of not being a champion golfer, I was amazed to realise that I could name the England starting eleven in 1966, without having to think twice.

  Banks, Wilson, Moore, etc…their names rolled off my tongue, and it nearly frightened me to think that as they get ready for this year’s semi-final, I would hardly know half their present team. Maybe I’m older (no maybe about it), but I think it’s also a reflection on how, personally, I have got fed up with the diving, moaning and cheating of the soccer multi-millionaires.

  Wouldn’t it be great to put one of them out in the middle of a serious intercounty hurling match, and see how they would get on – can you imagine Gearoid McInerney and Neymar going bald-headed for the sliothar! I’d say for a change the Brazilian superstar would have good reason to do a bit of rolling on the ground.

  Anyway, I’ve said all along that our neighbours can win it, and I certainly feel they will be in the final. After that, anything can happen.

 

And finally…

Finally for this week, we had an unusual treble in Mikeen’s, when three local people –  Bobby Jennings, Michael Griffin and Sylvia Lynch – all celebrated their 7th of July birthdays.

  I received a photo entitled the 7th July babies, but you will agree the two lads are a long way removed from their baby days, (you could say they are fairly hairy babies), and despite extensive enquiries I couldn’t get their exact ages.

  The only thing I’m sure of is that none of them were born in the same year, and the nearest I got was an admission from Mike Griffin that there was quite a bit of VAT to be added to the 21 that he admitted to. Sylvia’s mother said (note pun) nothing, and the best DJ in the west (Bobby) sang dumb.

  Anyway, congrats to all three, but if they think they are special, the 14th April gang one year  had four people celebrating their birthdays in Mikeen’s, so the 7th July crew need one more for next year.

  However, well done, and here’s to many more.

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to waste!

 

 

 

It’s another gloriously sunny Monday morning, and everywhere I look – on the telly and in the papers – all I can see is that we have a water crisis in the country, and Irish Water is threatening to bring people to court if they waste the precious commodity.

  Usage of hosepipes is banned in the Greater Dublin area, and they now cannot be used for watering gardens, washing cars, and filling swimming and paddling pools. Irish Water have taken on extra staff to man their helpline where members of the public can report people for breaches of the hosepipe ban – though somehow I can’t see too many people picking up the phone and telling whoever is on the line that their neighbour is using too much water.

  Now, anyone that knows me will know that I am no scientist or engineer, and that I may well be the most useless DIY man in history and if anything around the house needs to be done or fixed, I am definitely not your man. However, I still can’t understand why a couple of weeks’ sunshine can spell disaster to our population – from farmers to gardeners to restaurant owners, and in fact to nearly everyone!

  I have told you before of a little place in Spain that we go to nearly every year, and the big attraction of the area is that they have, on average, only 30-odd wet days a year. Yet, in the 15 or so years that we have been going there, we have never experienced any water shortage.

  On the other hand, here in Ireland we are nearly always complaining about the rain and our almost constant downpours, and it mystifies me as to how, in this day of amazing technology, we have not come up with a way to harness all this free water and have a reserve built up for – forgive the pun – a rainy day.

  Heavy snow, heavy rain, and now too much sun all seem to be able to bring this country to its knees, and I can only say there has to be a way to deal with all of these weather events. Maybe we should set up a think-tank, comprised of the of the best brains in the country (I know you’d want me on it, but I’m too busy), and figure out a way to deal with our different weather extremities as other countries around the world already do.

  A few years ago, my daughter spent some time in Minnesota in the US, where temperatures hit minus 30 degrees, and snowfall was more than two feet deep. Yet, remarkably, life just carried on with no apparent disruption to normal living – roads stayed open, people got to and from work, and all was good. Some time later, we got 4 or 5 inches of snow and the country ground to a halt – shops (including the one I work in) were closed, in our case for two full days, and roads became impassable.

  All I can say is surely it doesn’t have to be this way. I realise occurrences such as these are not extremely regular for Ireland, and maybe that’s why we have no plans in place to deal with them, but isn’t it time we did? Anyway, I’m off to yoke up the hosepipe, and water the flowers (only joking, as I might well be under surveillance!).

In defence of the Leinster final…

It’s funny how different people can take totally different things out of the same event, and Sunday’s Leinster Senior Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Galway is a case in point.

  On one of the daily papers that I buy (the Daily Mail), their reporter thought it was a rubbish game, with Galway being particularly bad. Meanwhile, a number of reporters in the Indo agreed with my assessment that it was the type of game which separates hurling from all other sports, (except maybe rugby), establishing it as one in which courage, heart, fearlessness and almost manic commitment are exhibited by every single player on the pitch.

  Much was made of the relatively low scoring, but it was the heroic defending by both sides, with players ‘putting their lives on the line’, that kept the scores down. Apart from the fact that I was obviously supporting Galway, I thoroughly enjoyed what was a true battle, and hopefully we will get more of the same next Sunday.

  On a lighter note, isn’t it strange to have a Leinster final take place in a Munster venue with a Connacht team taking part? It could only happen in Ireland, and whatever happens in the replay, I expect both of these teams to have a huge say in the final destination of the MacCarthy Cup.

And finally…

Eddie is an Internet sensation!

Finally for this week, out here in Creggs for a good few years now we have known Eddie Gavin as a County Council foreman (now retired), a hard-working farmer, a renowned horse man, a great character, and a good neighbour and friend, but never in our wildest dreams (or his, I’d say) did we think he would become an Internet sensation and a film star at this stage of his life.

  However, this week we have seen the release of a beautiful documentary by filmmaker Donal Maloney called, ‘Up the Mountain’, which tells us of Eddie’s struggles to deal with the death of his beloved wife, Teresa, a woman he freely admits he loved to bits, and how his love of, and for, horses helped him to rebuild his life.

  The filmmaker spent a few days with Eddie on his farm up the mountain and at the horse fair in Ballinasloe – and while I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the finished work, it gives us a great insight into the life and times of Eddie, who, at the end of it all, is primarily a horse man whose love of family comes shining through.

  Usually documentaries like this are made on some type of famous celebrities, and generally they are lightweight tributes to their subjects. This one is different in that it’s about an ordinary everyday man, and doesn’t sugarcoat the trials and tribulations of a man who is just like you and I and who lives in the real world. I think the film is to be found on Facebook, so if you can, make sure you have a look at it. And as a lad whose father came from the Newbridge side of Mount Mary, all I can say is well done Eddie, and ‘Up the Mountain!’

Till next week, 

Bye for now!

 

Yes…a day at the seaside!

 

 

There aren’t many good things about getting older, but one of them definitely is that I now only work three days a week, and particularly when we get a spell of weather like we have now, it’s a great bonus to only report for work on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each week.

  And so on yesterday morning, as the sun was splitting the stones, myself and Carol loaded the car and headed for one of my favourite spots in Ireland, the still relatively unspoit beautiful seaside resort of Rosses Point, outside Sligo town (just in case you didn’t do geography in the national school). Unusually for us, we actually got away at the planned time of 11 o’clock.

  Even with me at the wheel (my family regard me as a tortoise driver) and having made a couple of pit stops, we arrived to our destination some time around 12.30 pm. While there was a reasonable crowd around, we could see that there was lots of space on the beach, and in a matter of moments we were spread out on the lovely warm sand. If we didn’t know better we could have thought we were on the Costa Brava in Spain.

  As the time went by the crowds got bigger and bigger, and, soon the water was packed with holiday-makers of all ages, shapes and sizes, and I have to say it was a joy to behold.  Not for the first time, we came to the conclusion that there is nowhere to beat Ireland when the weather is good, and we thoroughly enjoyed our few hours at the Co. Sligo seaside.

  Before we left I decided to take a stroll along the water’s edge after dipping my toes in the warm seawater. As I walked I could see a group of six or seven young girls having a bit of fun playing around in the sea. As I neared them they burst into a chorus of Jingle Bells, and Santa Claus is coming to town (if you see a recent picture of me you will know why), and to make matters worse a group on the other side of the beach joined in.

  And so, on one of the warmest days of the year, far removed from the snow and ice of the winter, a little bit of Christmas came to Rosses Point and Santa Claus was left wishing he had never come to town. Only kidding, it was good fun – and when we hit the road for home in the early evening we vowed to make a return visit as soon as we can

So proud of Irish rugby heroes

A question that is often asked of Creggs folk  is ‘How did such a small village produce a top quality rugby club?’

  Forty years later the answer is still a mystery. Certainly a meeting took place in Dowd’s in  Glinsk in the early 1970s – after a local funeral – and the usual explanation is that the club was formed out of that meeting, which it most certainly was.

  However, the biggest reason for me was that a lot of lads from around the area were already involved in rugby elsewhere, and it was simply a matter of getting those lads to throw their lot in with their own local club.

  And so, for me, a lifelong interest in all things rugby was born. Down through the years, at our own local level, interprovincial level, and  of course at national level, we have experienced some amazing lows, along with some extraordinary highs, and at the moment Irish rugby is once again in a very healthy state.

  As supporters of the Irish team we have had two Grand Slams to celebrate inside the last decade, which is extraordinary itself, and there is no doubt that the 2009 team, with Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara to the fore, were a superb rugby team, but for sheer heart, guts and will to win it would be hard to beat the present lot.

  Last Saturday morning in the cauldron that was Sydney, Australia, the Irish team put everything on the line to claim a 2-1 victory in a series that brought intensity, commitment and bravery to a new level. As we claimed our first win ‘down under’ for 39 years, I don’t think I was ever as proud of any bunch of lads as I was of those Irish heroes.

  For some reason (it’s because they have a simple enough crossword) I get the Daily Mail, and for ages now they have their knives in one CJ Stander, whose crime is that he was born in South Africa, and even though he is fully entitled to play for Ireland, the rugby writers on the Mail are always on his case (along with our hero Bundee Aki), one or two because he is keeping some Irish players off the team, and some more always saying he’s not good enough and has no pride in the Irish jersey.

  If ever they got their answer they got it over this series when Stander, along with the rest of the Irish panel, was absolutely outstanding, and for a man ‘lacking pride in the jersey’, his tackling, carrying, running and hitting was just fantastic.

  Back in the day when we as a nation were going stone crazy during the Euros of 88 and the World Cups (soccer) of ‘90 and ‘94, no-one ever minded that a lot of our team had never kicked a ball in Ireland, bar a few such as Packie Bonner and Paul McGrath. A lot of the players who qualified on the very useful grandparents rule had never even been to Ireland. That didn’t matter at all, and to this day fellows like Ray Houghton, John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino are feted wherever they go in this country, despite winning nothing at all with their adopted country.

  CJ has won a Grand Slam, a series in Australia, and above all, he plies his trade for Munster – in this country – so in my opinion it’s time to give him the credit he’s due and leave him – and Bundee – alone.

  As for the future, when the history of Irish rugby is written, the names of Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Tadgh Furlong and Robbie Henshaw will rank with the names of our greatest-ever players, and I for one am very proud of their achievements and very thankful that they give absolutely everything to the cause..

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, Maria Fitzmaurice has asked me to tell ye all about a big night the Glinsk Ladies Club and Caislean Oir Community School are hosting on next Friday, June 29th when they have a Glinsk Fair day tea party.

  It all begins with Mass at 8 pm in the local Church, followed by a tea party in Dowd’s/ Glencastle Lounge. If you wish to host a table, call Margaret on 094-9655040 or Finola 094-9655885, and after you’ve eaten and drank your fill, Carmel McLoughlin and friends will have you dancing along with James Shevlin and the Fair of Glinsk song.

  Mildred Byrne and line dancers will be there, and there will be prizes for the best dressed.  Maria promises a great night’s craic, and I for one believe her, so don’t forget…get to Mass first, and then to Dowd’s and have yourself a ball!

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

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!

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!

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Roscommon