Frank Brandon column

Back on the sports beat…



It’s Sunday morning, and as I awake from my alcohol-free slumber I can hear the wind howling round the back of the house and the rain banging off the windows of the bedroom. A few weeks ago I told you how my fairly big dog run – three metres by three metres of some kind of metal – had proven no match for the wind at that time, and had taken off (as my neighbour told me later) like a paper bag, crossed the busy Creggs to Glinsk road, and ended up in bits on top of a roadside hedge.

Thank God it had not hit any person, car, tractor or bicycle as it flew through the air, so the first thought that came into my head was to check up on the replacement model and see was it still where it should be. I was happy enough to see it still standing out the back, although the canvas-type roof had got a bit loose. But even though it was flapping like an agitated cock in the wind, it was still in position and a couple of cable ties and a bit of rope had it back together again as good (well, nearly) as new.

We had learned a little bit from the first experience, and had attached a few six-inch blocks plus a few other miscellaneous weights to the structure, so in truth it would have been a big disappointment if it had once again taken to the airways. Anyway, all was well, and I could now concentrate on the big event that was due to take place later in the afternoon.

After nearly four months of total inactivity on every sporting front, Gaelic football was back and at 2 pm Creggs were due to play St. Brendan’s, Ballygar/Newbridge in a challenge match.

Now I am the first to admit that normally, while I would probably go to such a game, it wouldn’t excite me that much. But on Sunday, I could hardly wait to get to the pitch and see the action. As it turned out, despite occasional torrential rain and strong winds, we were treated to a very entertaining, competitive match that I’m told Creggs won by a single point. My personal calculator must have been slightly off, as I had it down as a drawn game.

Anyway, signs that we had had such a long lay-off was the fact that a match that would usually only draw a few hardy souls and a dog attracted a great crowd (properly social distancing) and I have to say that it was great to have it back. On Wednesday evening we have another challenge, this time against our near-neighbours Fuerty, and I am already looking forward to that.

As I’ve said before in this column, it’s hard to beat following your local team. Whether it’s football, hurling, rugby, soccer or tiddlywinks, it brings out all the tribal instincts that spend a lot of time hidden, (which mightn’t be a bad thing) and gives us more fun and craic than maybe we’ve realised. So here’s to the resumption of all competitive sports. I can’t wait.


Leave it to Mr O’Brien


I am the first to admit that I know nothing at all about horse racing, but not even a caveman (if they still exist) could be oblivious to the amazing success story that is Aidan O’Brien and his ever more successful dynasty. That’s a dynasty which includes his four children, all of whom were jockeys before the two lads, Joseph and Donnacha, followed their father into the world of racehorse training.

For years I thought Aidan was the son of the famous Vincent O’Brien, whose Ballydoyle Stables he now operates from, but they are no relation at all. Aidan O’Brien’s father Denis was a farmer and small-scale horse trainer in Co. Wexford, and the present all-conquering trainer learned his trade at PJ Finn’s stables in Co. Kildare, and later at Jim Bolger’s in Co. Carlow. He started training in 1993, and this weekend he saw his horses win both the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom. His son Donnacha trained the winner of the French Oaks in Chantilly, and while all that was taking place the family still managed to win two races here at home in Ireland.

Between the three big winners the O’Briens collected more than one and a half million euro in prizemoney, and it is amazing that when we talk of all the massive world ranked sportspeople that Ireland has, no one ever mentions Aidan O’Brien.

We hear of Rory, McGregor, Katie, and Bertram Allen, but seldom of O’Brien; surely the young lad who grew up on a small farm in rural Co. Wexford deserves to be mentioned in the same league as such exalted company. He seems to be such a humble, unassuming man, and what he has already achieved is almost unbelievable. Well done Aidan, and all your family…you are some credit to this island of ours.


Memories of Glinsk

Song Contest…


It’s funny how people and their tastes change through the years and in my case the television show Killinascully is a prime example. Between 2004 and 2008 the Pat Shortt creation was a regular feature on our television screens, and to tell the truth – although there were more than thirty episodes, along with a number of Christmas specials – for some reason I never warmed to the show at all.

I would say that I only ever bothered to have a look at a handful of the original shows, so I am pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the present re-runs so much, and I actually look forward to 8 pm on Sunday evenings when Dan, Dieter, Timmy, Jimmy, Willie Power, Pa Connors and all the rest of the characters appear in our sitting rooms with the sight of a live pub (Jacksie’s) bringing back fond memories of life before lockdown.

However, it was what happened after Killinascully last Sunday that caught my attention, when Pat Shortt’s look at music on the telly was on, and lo and behold there was the Glinsk Song Contest with Marty Ward being interviewed at length and James Shevlin singing his own composition about going home to Glinsk.        It’s hard to believe that for 25 years in a tiny rural East Galway village one of the biggest, if not the biggest, song contests in the country was taking place, with famous songwriting names like Charlie McGettigan, Denis Allen and Niall Toner taking the honours through the years, while Una Healy of The Saturdays’ fame was successful there on two occasions.

I have to say it was great to see the piece about the song contest from the village of Glinsk, a place that has always had a wonderful community spirit. It is a pity it came to an end in 2012. Sadly, as a budding songwriter (I never actually budded), I put in a couple of what I thought were really wonderful entries, but I am still waiting for my call-up. I don’t suppose I’ll hear from them now.


And finally…


Finally for this week, I have to admit that I am getting fed up with the way Dublin dictates everything that happens in Ireland.

The news today that the way hundreds of inconsiderate fools congregated with no social distancing in Temple Bar and its surrounds over the weekend could have an effect on pubs around the rest of the country reopening is both appalling and totally unfair.

By all means close the pubs that made no effort to control their clients, but why should the rest of us pay for the reckless actions of a few dunderheads?