As Roscommon prepare to play Leitrim on Sunday, PAUL HEALY says that while we might be indifferent to the GAA at times, ‘normal service resumes’ once the championship starts…
Please just throw in the ball, ref! First: a confession. I won’t pretend that it means quite as much to me now as it used to, because it doesn’t.
Not quite as much, but it still means a lot! That doesn’t mean that I should be condemned, it’s just that life got in the way. So I am always happy enough to admit that I don’t get to every game, that I don’t know every player…because that’s just the way it is.
Life is made up of phases, and sometimes we dip in and out of areas of interest. Career challenges, children, even middle age comes along!
And yet…come championship time – even for those of us who can’t rhyme off the FBD results or claim to have been at every NFL game – all the magic just comes rolling back!
While the hairstyles and shirt collars may have been appalling, overall the late 1970s were memorable for Roscommon GAA fans. Of course we were spoilt. I can only really comment from the perspective of my generation. Roscommon won the Connacht senior football titles of 1977, ’78, ’79 and ’80. We won the National Football League in 1979, the All-Ireland U-21 title in 1978, and reached the All-Ireland Senior Football Final in 1980.
I was a teenager in Rooskey during all of this strutting on the national GAA stage. My memory of that great era is that we probably took this annual competing for honours for granted. As young lads we weren’t likely to listen to the sage advice of older folk. I’m not sure that I realised it was a special era. It was as if one day I was 12, and then when I woke up as a 13-year-old and continued into teenagehood, Roscommon were routinely beating all before them in Connacht – and putting up big scores too. I thought that was normal. We had no fear of Galway or Mayo. We played with power and determination, but – unless my mind is playing tricks – most of all, we played with swagger. We were stylists. True, we largely abandoned that approach in the 1980 All-Ireland Final, but any fair verdict on that great team will surely acknowledge that it was made up of a gifted set of players who graced the game with distinction.
As young lads, we would surely have enjoyed gaelic football anyway, but we were particularly drawn to the game because of Roscommon’s prowess in that era.
For thousands of Roscommon people of all ages, the 1977-’80 period was a happy time, fondly remembered now for the enormously satisfying trips to Hyde Park and other venues. Success with swagger.
The best of times.
Easily beating Mayo and Galway couldn’t last, of course. It made no sense! Getting to four successive All-Ireland semi-finals made no sense!
Along came barren times, what I labelled the ‘decade of despair’ in my role as sports reporter with the Roscommon Champion. Post-1980, we didn’t win another Connacht title for the remainder of the decade. Finally, in 1990, Martin McDermott led us out of the abyss, following up with a successful defence of the Connacht title the following year.
Young, and with less commitments than now, I invested a huge amount of emotion in the GAA in those years, as a fan and as a reporter. So did thousands more – then and now. Many of them have never ‘switched off’ in the way that I sometimes have. There was no switching off in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Supporting Roscommon was a glorious anguish. There was the added responsibility of following the fortunes of the great club side, Clann na nGael, another team which, like Roscommon, tested the emotions and hearts of supporters.
There really was no feeling like the feeling you got on the morning of a big match, whether it was a trip to Castlebar or Galway, or maybe a Connacht final in the Hyde.
In many ways it was a different Ireland, even as recently as the mid-1990s. The pubs were packed on the Friday and Saturday before the big game, as anticipation grew and nervous debate developed. The towns and villages were adorned with flags and bunting. Shannonside began to go out and about and host special preview programmes. Marty Morrissey or Michael Lyster might appear in the Main Street, staring into a camera in front of the Bank of Ireland. We were excited early in the week and often irrationally confident about our prospects. By Thursday or Friday the nerves took hold, and we were petrified at the prospect of defeat. We imagined how the game might unfold. We dared to visualise Tony McManus bearing down on goal. We sought reassurance from friends and neighbours. We called into Paddy Joe (the barber in Roscommon Town) and placed huge faith in his words of wisdom. By Friday we were making arrangements about how we would travel and with whom. We loved the morning of the match; all things were still possible.
When the referee threw the ball in, our hearts were in knots; now we had no control, now we wanted it to be the beginning of the week again.
Years of near-misses and occasionally heavy defeats and infrequent joy. Then, in 2006, something extraordinary happened. A peerless campaign by our minors led to All-Ireland glory. The memory of the joy and emotion and pride in Ennis (and later in Roscommon Town) will live with everyone.
We don’t need to go all the way, to actually win finals, in order to fully savour and appreciate what is so special about the GAA, and specifically about the championship. Just embarking on the journey is usually enough. After all, most campaigns are doomed, but that reality can’t diminish the excitement and expectation at the start, or the madness of the journey, wherever it takes us.
The championship just takes hold of us, sets off on its mystery tour and brings us with it.
There were some savage tight games between Roscommon and Leitrim in the early 1990s. A great and often bitter rivalry was created. It was powerful stuff. To this day, even if recent meetings have seldom been that close, there’s mighty rivalry on the pitch and in the stands. Sometimes very sparky in the stands. Nothing would delight Leitrim more than to get one over on Roscommon. And the great passion that the underdogs, Leitrim, will bring to the battle,acts as a leveller, at least for a while.
Players come and go, times change, hairstyles change, reality tv stars even become Presidents. County teams rise and fall. One of the greatest days at the Hyde was in 1994 when Leitrim, not Roscommon, won the Connacht title (against Mayo). It was epic, and we proudly marched behind them to an All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park against Dublin. Roscommon have had their ups and downs too. Eras of promise, eras of heartbreak, eras to forget, eras of hope.
Whatever era it is, and whatever the status of a team at a given time, the start of the championship is a leveller, and also a cause, however misguided, for hope. The eternal hope, shouldering logic out of its path.
Today is Thursday. Nothing can stop us now. The next three days cannot be sullied by missed chances, bad refereeing, dubious management calls. For now, it’s pure adrenaline. Marty Morrissey might be on the way down. The flags are flying. The Hyde is being readied, the pub debates are starting, the players are toiling in the shadow of the old stand.
Every year, whether you’ve been in or out of the GAA all year – or just in a bit and out a bit – it hits you, grabs you, brings you back in.
Just throw the ball in ref – and let that glorious damn suffering begin.
Accessible holiday centre celebrates 20th anniversary
“It’s the synergy of the mix between the staff, the volunteers, the guests and the local community that make Cuisle such a unique place.”
Those were the sentiments of Cuisle Holiday Centre’s General Manager, Jean Coleman during last Thursday’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
Jean was addressing a large crowd of guests which included Irish Wheelchair CEO Rosemary Keogh; Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice and Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Tony Ward. Senators Terry Leyden and Maura Hopkins and a number of councillors were also present.
Cuisle Holiday Centre officially opened its doors in 1997 and since then it has become renowned nationwide and indeed further afield as being a unique facility which caters for people with disabilities.
Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice paid a glowing tribute to those involved in running the centre.
“Throughout the country, there is incredible work being done (by IWA) in different places.
“You have a place that twenty years ago set off on a journey. It is known far and wide. It is known for people that need respite, for helping those people and for the friendliness. It’s the staff that make this place,” he said.
Deputy Fitzmaurice also highlighted the employment opportunities Cuisle has provided to the local community.
Roscommon Cathaoirleach Tony Ward described Thursday as a “joyous day” and thanked the staff at Cuisle, stating that they should be “complimented right across the board” for providing such a unique service.
Tyrone woman Ursula Nugent also spoke at the event. Ursula has been a regular guest at Cuisle and she had high praise for the facilities.
She said: “I first heard of Cuisle from another guest who visits from Northern Ireland. I then looked it up on the Internet and thought the place was perfect because it had everything I needed. I particularly like the leisure facilities because we don’t have them up North. We can use the facilities independently under our own steam. We can use the hoist to get into the Jacuzzi and it can really help you relax. It helps the muscle tone which improves my cerebral palsy. I think the facilities in Cuisle are second to none,” she said.
She also spoke about some of the many outings she has enjoyed at Cuisle, trips made possible by the transport facilities at the holiday centre. Although if Ursula has her way, a trip to Galway might be on the cards!
“The accessible transport is great, I would like to suggest that we go up to Galway the next time – but I don’t want to put pressure on anyone!”
According to Ursula, Cuisle has also helped her to develop confidence; something which was very much in evidence throughout her speech on Thursday afternoon.
She said: “I might seem confident here today but I’m really not that confident and Cuisle has helped my confidence and built my self-esteem.”
Ursula concluded with a glowing tribute to the “highly dedicated” staff, before officially kicking off Cuisle’s 20th birthday party.
A great crowd gathered at Western Gaels GAA Club recently as the ‘Play for Paul’ charity match was played out between a team of Over 30s and a team of Under 30s featuring some stars of the past and present.
Paul Higgins sadly passed away last April following a brave 15-year battle with cancer. Paul was an inspirational and influential figure on and off the pitch and the big crowd present last weekend was testament to this.
As for the game itself, the U-30s’ forward line featured Fintan Cregg, Niall Higgins, James Gallagher, Finbar Cregg and Paul’s sons and joint captains, Ryan and Jack Higgins. This exciting attack was well served by Kevin Higgins and Cathal Shine at midfield.
There was no blanket defence present in Frenchpark and at half-time the score was 3-7 to 2-7 in favour of the U-30s.
However, this ‘youthful’ side were almost blitzed by a vintage Over 30s performance on the resumption, with Ted Moore in particular causing the U-30s all sorts of problems. Moore hit an incredible 2-8 in a man of the match display.
Match commentator Enda Beirne did well to keep count of the scores in the second half as goals galore had Sky Sports bidding for the rights for next year’s action!
In the end it was the U-30s who edged it despite a wonderful display of attacking football from the Over 30s.
The organisers offered sincere thanks to everyone for their generosity and support over the last few weeks, particularly Martin Dowd of Finesse Medical, who sponsored playing kits; and Western Gaels who supplied the facilities.
A raffle also took place in the Chariot Bar and a full list of winners is available on the Facebook page ‘Play for Paul’. All proceeds are going to the Mater Oncology Ward.
Strokestown Church will play host to the Strokestown Parish Fundraising Concert this Sunday (18th). This promises to be a wonderful evening of entertainment featuring plenty of top class musical talent.
The Roscommon Solstice Choir and Cavan Sinfonia Orchestra will be accompanied on the night by local artists including singer Eleanor Hanley and organist James Wallace as well as Sean nós dancer, Ryan Owen.
Formed in 2013, the Roscommon Solstice Choir now boasts over 100 members and has performed across Ireland and further afield.
Under the direction of brother and sister duo, Eimear and Andrew Reynolds, the choir has organised numerous charity concerts and has proven to be a big hit with audiences throughout the country.
The choir has won numerous awards including a ‘People’s Choice Award’ at this year’s EPIC Awards in the UK. The choir also recently received great acclaim for its performance at a moving ceremony at Blacksod lighthouse for local community volunteers involved in the search for Rescue 116.
The Cavan Sinfonia Orchestra has been performing since October 2010 under the capable and encouraging baton of Sue King.
This inclusive combination of varying age groups and musical backgrounds has performed at events such as the Fleadh Cheoil and Cavan Drama Festival. The orchestra most recently performed at ‘The Oscars’ night in Granard and are sure to go down a treat in Strokestown this Sunday.
If your dear old dad is like most Roscommon dads, i.e. he’s a sensible man who shops for functionality rather than fashion, then it’s likely he’s wearing a pair of reading glasses that are so old they could feature on The Antiques Roadshow, meaning he could do with a new pair. Why not pop into your local optician and buy him a voucher; we’re sure he’d appreciate the gesture.
If your dad never misses an issue of his favourite magazine why not surprise him with an annual subscription, that way, his number one read can be delivered straight through his letter box!
If he’s the couch potato footie commentator type, then we’re sure he’d love an annual subscription to all the sporting channels, or sure why not go the whole hog and get him a big screen home theatre, audio visual experience. They don’t come cheap so perhaps you might like to get a few family members to contribute to the cost.
Does he get all manly, territorial and possessive about his old leather reclining ‘dad’ chair? Yes! But it’s smelly, so why not buy him a new one, or even a good second-hand one! He’ll love you for it and he’ll spend hours sitting in the sunshine, reading his magazine, drinking his Jemmie and red and dispensing words of wisdom to his grandchildren when the footie goes to half-time!
Does dad pride himself on being a bit of a Brian Flanagan – Tom Cruise’s character in the movie Cocktail? If so, get him a cool bar tool set complete with cocktail shaker for mixing his own special ‘dad’ blends, a lemon slicing knife, chopping board, bottle opener, strainer, stirring sticks and ice tongs!
If dad’s the green-fingered type who spends a lot of time in his ‘Man Shed,’ then you won’t go wrong with a set of rechargeable heated insoles to keep his tootsies warm.
Every dad loves his car, that’s why he’ll really appreciate a set of luxury car seat covers; and you could throw in a car valeting voucher from your local garage.
Remember, whatever you buy the man who has been championing you all of your life, shaping you into the man/woman you are today while at the same time embarrassing you with his silly jokes and dad dancing, he’s gonna simply adore your gift, so long as it’s accompanied by a big hug and an “I love you dad.”
Sinead Gannon from Roscommon has been announced as a finalist for this year’s Rock ‘n’ Run Idol contest. The five finalists from Dublin, Louth, Roscommon, Down and Limerick were selected by an expert panel of judges who managed to narrow the wide pool of entries to five inspirational men and women.
All finalists are currently training hard to take part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon & 10k race on 13th of August. The finalists are also battling it out in a public vote to become the Rock ‘n’ Run Idol and win an all-expenses paid trip to take part in Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas.
The general public are now invited to vote for the winner by going to RocknRollDublin.com and reading the incredible entries from the 5 finalists.
Voting continues until 7th of July at 11:59 pm GMT and the winner will be announced shortly after. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & Half-Marathon in November, the world’s largest night-time running event, which takes place on the Las Vegas Strip at night.
For more information about Affidea Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon or to register for the event, visit RunRocknRoll.com/Dublin or follow @RnRDublinHalf on Twitter.
Scoil Bhríde, Fourmilehouse is hosting a fun-filled family day out with activities to suit all ages in aid of their construction fund. Monies raised on the day go towards the construction of a resource room and facilities for the special needs pupils of Scoil Bhríde. The parents, teachers and pupils of the school would like to extend a warm invitation to all families in Roscommon and surrounding areas to join them on Saturday, June 24th in Kilbride Community Centre from 12-6 pm for what promises to be an action-packed day!
Activities will include bouncy castles, face painting, novelty events and races, penalty shootout, ride-on tractor races, kiddies’ disco, to mention a few. The highlight of the day will be a pedal-powered cinema with over 80 cyclists taking to their bikes. The pupils of the school have chosen a family favourite, Zootropolis.
Organisers are also holding a raffle and silent auction on the day with fabulous prizes to be won and bid for including a handcrafted wooden model kitchen specially commissioned for the event, hotel stays, spa breaks, boys/girls bike and much much more.
Follow us on Facebook to track our funding progress and a full listing of activities on the day!
The Lodge at Ashford Castle, along with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, gave one lucky couple the gift of a lifetime as they presented the winning bride and groom-to-be with a €10,000 luxury 8-day, all-inclusive honeymoon cruise.
All couples who booked their wedding at The Lodge at Ashford Castle before 31st of March this year were entered into the draw to win the honeymoon cruise. Earlier in the week, three finalists were chosen at random and invited to The Lodge at Ashford Castle on Wednesday, 24th of May where the winning couple was selected live on air with the Gerry Glennon Show on Mid-West Radio.
Shane Regan, Roscommon town and Nora Garvey, Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon, won the honeymoon of a lifetime as they opened the winning envelope live on air to find a Uniworld voucher inside. There were tears of happiness as the couple, along with the wedding team and management at The Lodge, celebrated with bubbly in the sunshine on the shores of Lough Corrib.
Shane and Nora met in Dublin 12 years ago when love blossomed. Shane decided Nora was the one and asked Nora’s father for permission to marry his daughter while they were outside Garvey’s Bar in Ballintubber, where her father had grown up. Sadly, before Shane got to pop the question to Nora, her father passed away.
A romantic proposal took place on Christmas Eve when Shane dropped to one knee in front of Garvey’s Bar, in the exact place where Nora’s father had given the marriage his blessing! The happy couple will tie the knot on New Year’s Eve this year and plan to set sail in 2018 with their incredible Uniworld honeymoon cruise.
Speaking about their recent good fortune, Shane said: “We were so thrilled and delighted to win. We could not believe it. It was just fantastic and we are overwhelmed and humbled.”
Theatre will be relaunched in Ballygar on Saturday, July 1st when renowned writer and performer, Little John Nee presents his show ‘Small Towns and Potholes.’
Ballygar Town Hall will host the production and it is a venue which has a strong theatre tradition and had been the scene of many productions right up until the 1990s.
At a recent reunion of the Ballygar Drama Group, those present reminisced about the rich history which includes memories of the famous Anew McMaster’s Touring Theatre Company with Shakespeare’s MacBeth.
The stage had been boarded up since the 1990s but thanks to the voluntary work of the Ballygar Arts and Theatre Space and Ballygar Men’s Shed, it has since reopened and can accommodate 60 people.
Those present at the recent reunion got to thread the boards once again and the event brought back memories of an era when the drama group played to packed houses and brought joy, laughter and a rich theatrical experience to all in the community.
It is hoped that the venue can once again bring a memorable theatre experience to the town of Ballygar starting with ‘Small Towns and Potholes’ on Saturday, July 1st.
For tickets, contact Louise Holian on 087-7437443 or Sheila Flanagan on 087-2141170.