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A welcome win for decency over thuggery





When ‘Traditional old salt-of-the-earth decency’ met ‘Young, spoilt, pathetic thieving thugs’ in Cork on Saturday, the odds favoured the latter.

  I was delighted therefore to see the former beat the odds – and the thugs – in this unscheduled showdown in a bookmakers.

  When three masked and armed raiders charged into the Glanmire bookmakers shop, they met more than they had bargained for.

  Wielding hammers and “what appeared to be a shotgun”, the thugs ran into the premises on Saturday night, demanding cash.

  However, they were confronted by the manager of the premises, who was joined in the resistance by 84-year-old great-granddad, Denis O’Connor. Indeed, speaking on RTE Radio on Monday, the manager generously conceded that he only challenged the raiders after the brave octogenarian did!

  While challenging raiders is probably not recommended, every decent person in the country will be hailing Mr. O’Connor’s bravery and heroicism.  

  The 84-year-old challenged one of the hammer-wielding raiders, and the manager of the premises joined in. All three raiders fled.

  Described by locals as “an absolute gentleman”, Mr. O’Connor strikes me as being typical of the type of elderly men and women you see in a bookies’; salt-of-the-earth folk who have led good, honest lives and for whom an afternoon in the bookmakers is an enjoyable indulging of a hobby, not to mention a social interaction.

  The thugs, on the other hand, are cowardly layabouts who should be locked up until they learn some manners and decide to contribute positively to society!

  So well done to Denis O’Connor, who bravely ensured that this ill-fated ‘treble’ backed a loser last Saturday.


Harrington heroics

On he goes…away now from the spotlight, but still displaying glimpses of his greatness.

  I suspect some people can’t quite put him in at no. 1 when those ‘Who is Ireland’s greatest ever sports person?’ debates are in full flow. And that’s fine. Because as the years go by and we travel further from Padraig Harrington’s great peak, it is understandable that appreciation of the enormity of his golfing achievements might diminish a little. Also, people can make very legitimate claims for other contenders for the ‘Best ever’ status, such as, for example, the great Brian O’Driscoll.

  For me, it’s always been Harrington, his three majors (won in the 2007-2008 period) sealing the deal. Of course it’s a silly enough exercise, this ‘Who is the greatest?’ speculation. Because you probably can’t really compare a man sinking a pressure putt to beat the world’s elite to a rugby superstar, or indeed to the great middle-distance runner, Sonia O’Sullivan. Can’t we celebrate them all with equal pride?

  What’s great about Harrington is that he keeps plodding away with varying degrees of success, some years on now from the glory days. Two weeks ago, he finished second in Prague, on 20 under par. Last Sunday, he finished fifth in the KLM Open in Holland, on 13 under.

  That’s 33 under for his last eight rounds – life in the ‘old dog’ yet, 22 years after his first professional win. And he’s a gentleman too!


‘Beyonce’s not answering…call Marty and Aine’


There was an unexpected boost for Ireland’s struggling pubs last Saturday night when RTE experimented with a new reality show which is sure to leave living rooms abandoned and pubs with fresh hope…

  Or perhaps I was dreaming…anyways, channel-hopping, I arrived at the Ray D’Arcy Show on RTE 1 on Saturday night.

  In what appears to be a daring new experiment, the show featured a breathlessly giggly duo…a GAA commentator and a current affairs broadcaster…who spoke at length about how they will patronise thousands of welly-wearing people in a field in Co. Offaly this week, where they will offset any sagging in the silly chat with outbreaks of mad dancing.

  The dancing dimension to the Ploughing presentation by Marty Morrissey and Aine Lawlor has been introduced because a bizarre persona has been created for Marty whereby he will forever more be labelled a ‘mighty dancer and party animal’, just because he was a sporting, if leaden-footed participant in a tedious reality dance show. Aine is gamely playing along.

  In case anyone in the open-mouthed audience did not quite get the concept, host Ray D’Arcy invited Marty to remind the captives in studio and the watching nation of just how good his moves are.

  As anguished viewers desperately searched under cushions for the damn remote, a woman was ushered from the audience to have her Marty moment. She was a big fan of Marty’s, but an even bigger fan of Nathan Carter’s. Fortuitously, the producers had Nathan’s ‘Wagon Wheel’ lined up. Cue Marty and Woman from Audience jiving (sort of) while Ray clapped along in the background, possibly wondering if his €400,000 salary needs an upward review at this point.

  Now I know it’s all harmless fun, but for nostalgic fans of the great chat show era, it’s traumatic stuff! Two nice RTE ‘old hands’ are presenting the ploughing; why are they prime time guests on a Saturday night chat show? Beyonce and Madonna not answering?

  As I desperately tried to banish visions of Miriam O’Callaghan and Bernard O’Shea doing a rock and roll routine next week, I (again) fantasised about a time when interesting celebrity guests talked about their interesting celebrity lives on chat shows.

  I dreamt of Muhammad Ali and Bob Hope and Billy Connolly and Bette Davis and Joan Rivers on Parkinson, of Hollywood A-listers on Graham Norton, and of John Cleese, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Tony Curtis on the Late Late Show.

  Alas, all’s changed – utterly. Over on Virgin Media, the most obnoxiously vain and self-centred and idiotic wannabees are taking part in Big Brother; the X Factor is now so staged as to be more or less completely devoid of whatever credibility it once had.

  Back in RTE chat show land, your best chance of getting on ‘the telly’ is if you are an actual RTE presenter who has an RTE show coming up.

  Hence, the painfully dull succession of familiar faces coming on to Ryan and Ray’s couches/chairs to talk about their exciting new series’. Both programmes have their good moments, but the general trend is not great. 

  Meanwhile, Wednesday’s storm-related cancellation notwithstanding, the actual welly-fest itself is dominating the media this week, which is fine I guess. It’s a great event. I didn’t go, for fear of bumping into a cliché-sporting presidential candidate with a fixed smile, an outstretched hand and a vision of Ireland for everyone in the audience.

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