It’s Sunday afternoon and along with thousands upon thousands of Irish sports followers, I am settling down to watch the first of the two huge matches involving our Irish international teams, when the rugby lads take on the mercurial talents of the French aristocrats in the majestic Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Now I don’t know if it was the effects of the previous night’s exertions at the big dance in Dowd’s (which I will tell you about later), or if it was the sight of so many green-clad supporters milling around the Cardiff streets, but all of a sudden I was gone back in time, and I was engulfed by a myriad of remarkable memories from my various visits to the home of Welsh rugby.
The stadium was built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup at a cost of €114 million and back then, and to this day, it was an amazing and spectacular sporting arena. We first went for that final, which was between Australia and France, but we also managed to get tickets for the 3rd place play-off, which was between South Africa and the All Blacks, and that game was the occasion of my first ever visit to the Millennium Stadium.
For that match I was way up in the high seats, but couldn’t believe how clear the view was, but for the final, we were so close to the pitch I was almost playing.
When Australia won and did the customary lap of honour, I could literally have reached over and touched the Webb Ellis Trophy, which captain John Eales was proudly showing off to the world.
I fell in love with Cardiff and its people, later that night (a lot later) when I was somewhat unsteadily making my way home (well, to the hotel) from the nightclub which we, aptly christened The Doghouse (my brother, The Rasher, will explain).
Not for the first time, I was going the wrong way. As I walked, I met a fellow late-night reveller, a Welsh lad, who told me I was lost, but that he, as it happened, was going by my hotel. He hailed a taxi, put me in, dropped me off at the front door and wouldn’t take a penny for my part of the fare!
I often wondered if that happened a lost Welsh supporter in Dublin, what would be the outcome? We ran into Jack The Higher on that trip, as he celebrated a significant birthday and in the meantime, I have been there for Munster’s Heineken Cup victory in 2006, the Grand Slam victory in 2009, a few other Six Nations games and as I watched the extraordinary scenes during and after Sunday’s game, I could only wish that I could hop on a magic carpet and be transported straight over to the Welsh Capital.
Sadly it wasn’t to be and the only carpet I saw was the on the sitting room but even there, hundreds of miles away from the action, it was one of the most amazing performances I have seen from any Irish team.
I’m not going to go into the story of the game itself, as it’s on every paper everywhere, but on this bright Monday morning, despite all the injuries and the possible citing of Sean O’Brien (who has since got a one-week ban), I’m very proud to be an Irishman.
Sadly, it didn’t work out so well for the soccer lads over in Warsaw, but at least we can still get to France through the play-offs. Again in Poland, our supporters were magnificent and showed yet again why they’re so well regarded all over the world.
However, back in the real world, there’s always something to jolt us into reality and the terrible fire in Dublin’s Carrickmines on Saturday morning in which 10 lives were lost, followed by the shooting dead of an unarmed Garda in Omeath on Sunday evening while attending a domestic violence incident, in which a young girl was also critically injured and the gunman killed himself, fairly makes us realise that sport, for all its excitement, is really only a diversion from life’s trials and tribulations.
There’s not much to say in both instances except to offer sincere sympathies to the relatives of the dead and hope for the recovery of all the injured.
Reader’s views on crime
Changing subjects, and back to my piece last week in which I made the point that prison life for our criminals is too easy, and it inspired one of my readers to contact me and put forward a suggestion of his own, which, while possibly controversial, is certainly interesting.
His idea is that thugs like the seven who terrorised the Corcoran family in Tipperary should be sent to places like Russia for the duration of their sentences and made work in the mines, do hard physical labour and get little or no remuneration – and he reckons by the time they come back, they’ll have little or no interest in carrying on their lives of crime.
He also commented on Paddy O’Gorman’s segment on Sean O’Rourke’s programme on RTE 1 where O’Gorman interviews people as they come out of the Courts and he was amazed at the number of them who had no intention of paying whatever fines they had got in the Court, and were more than happy to go to prison for a few days, thereby getting rid of their responsibility.
Several said they had already purged fines that way previously and my correspondent wonders if they were on social welfare (as a lot of them were), why the fine money wasn’t deducted from their weekly payments.
I’m not too sure about sending our criminals to Russia, but I definitely agree with him on the Social Welfare matter.
A word of thanks
Anyway, back to Saturday night and I’m delighted to say that we had a great night, great crowd and great craic with Frank Nelson in Dowd’s in Glinsk and I just want to thank all the ticket sellers, all who gave spot prizes, all who bought tickets and couldn’t come and especially all those who actually made it to Dowd’s.
We are still sorting out the money, but it looks as if we have close to €3,700 to be divided equally between Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund.
It’s a fantastic amount and we are so grateful to all the people in both Creggs and Glinsk (and indeed Glenamaddy and Oran and loads of other surrounding villages). Thanks again.
Finally for this week, the excitement is building around the village of Creggs as we prepare for the annual Harvest Festival.
Now the full programme of events will be in next week’s Roscommon People, but I’ve been asked to mention a few special things.
The Craft Fair is taking place on the Bank Holiday Monday (26th October) and anyone interested in taking a stall should contact Bina at 09- 6621037.
The Dog Show is on Sunday 25th at 1 pm and the Festival committee will be putting up a Memorial Shield in honour of the late Marie Mullen, who was synonymous with the running of the Dog Show for many years.
Also on the Sunday, there is an open Harvest Day for children in the Wildlife Park at 1.30 pm and among the activities will be a Treasure Hunt, face painting (some adults could maybe do with a makeover!), Ducking for Apples and lots more. You can dress up in full Halloween Costume or come as you are!
If you want to sell Bric A Brac or anything else (except drugs), call Nora at 090-6621010 to take a stall and make yourself a few bob and finally an event that’s dear to my own heart, takes place on Sunday night in St. Mary’s Parochial Hall, when we host a parish dancing night with music by the great Sean Brennan.
When I was young, no dance halls had alcohol licences and we got on fine! This is the chance to have a ‘dry’ dance, meet the neighbours and have a nice enjoyable night out with one of the locality’s best musicians and on top of all that, we are reviving the parish Waltzing Competition!
Vincent Canny and Elizabeth Ward are the reigning champions but challengers include previous winners Seamus Keane and Theresa Canny who are waiting in the long grass! Watch this space!
Till next week, bye for now