Frank Brandon column

Murtagh was hot on the pitch, while

I was in the commentary hot seat!

 

Our man in Creggs…on the ongoing plight of rural pubs, his soft spot for The Nolan Sisters, and unexpectedly discovering his inner Willie Hegarty/Marty Morrissey!

 

It’s a sweltering hot August Saturday afternoon, and I am heading off to the amazing football grounds in Ballyleague, home of St. Faithleach’s GAA Club, where my local team, Creggs, are to cross swords with the home club in a Mulryan Construction Intermediate Football Championship clash.

I have to say that the grounds and facilities and everything about the club are second to none, and are a credit to what is effectively a small enough rural club. So, a huge well done to everyone involved in putting together such a fantastic set-up in a truly spectacular location.

Sadly for Creggs, on the day the performance of the local team on the field more than matched the quality off it. It was a tough day at the office for our lads as they struggled to live with the power, pace and precision of the Ballyleague men.

While we could have been a little closer at the finish, no one could quibble with the final result. The consolation for us is that we have already qualified for the quarter-final, so even if this was a bit of a setback, we will have a chance in two weeks’ time to ‘get back up on the horse’.

As for St. Faithleach’s, on Saturday’s performance it is very hard to see anyone beating them, but their management team will know only too well that what went so brilliantly then may not be repeated the next time, and while in my opinion they are definitely the team that should win the championship, there are no guarantees.

Before I leave the actual game itself, while by no means a one-man team, the performance of Diarmuid Murtagh (even to a Galway man) was something special. There is no doubt that he is an exceptional talent. Two of the second-half points that he got were worth the admission fee alone. Each of them from out near the power station, they were simply sublime efforts. There are very few forwards in the country who would have even attempted them!

Now everyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to technology I am still back in the Stone Age…I can’t tune in the TV or the car radio, the DVD player is way beyond me, and my phone – which apparently could do lots of stuff if it was let – is pretty much confined to making and receiving calls (and doing the same with text messages).

However, the good news is that my neighbour, Niall Quinn, must be very good with modern technology, because he called to me last week and said he was going to livestream our games. He asked me would I do the commentary. Marty Morrissey was unavailable, and Willie was tied up with Shannonside.

Anyway, I said I would, after he told me that Laura Fleming, one of Roscommon’s best (and best known) footballers would be there to co-host, and that Ian Cooney from the Roscommon Herald would guest at different times during the broadcast. I sort of figured out that two out of three would know what they were talking about, and that not much could go wrong.

I got to the pitch in good time, spoke to some of the St. Faithleach’s mentors – who were very helpful and obliging about their team members, etc. – and was ready to go on air in plenty of time for the throw-in. It was only then that the enormity of what Niall Quinn was attempting to do struck me. Apparently whatever technology was involved (all of which he had set up) meant that the Creggs diaspora all around the world could actually watch and hear what was going on in Ballyleague!

Among those viewers (that I am aware of) were Jonathan and Derek Mulligan in Australia, their sister Deirdre in New York, James Keane in Chicago, his brother Daniel in Australia, Ivan Kelly in Edinburgh, and Damien Curley in London, so huge credit to Niall Quinn on setting the wheels in motion and letting our emigrants all around the globe stay in touch with home. It was a pity the result was the way it was, but as I said earlier, we have another day out.

As for the commentary, it’s not easy, so hats off to Willie Hegarty. There were times I forgot completely that I was supposed to be talking, times that I had a go at the ref, and several times that I mixed up the names of the players.

However, my instinct was right…Laura was accurate, incisive and knowledgeable – and universally acknowledged as excellent. Ian Cooney brought a wealth of experience and knowhow to the table, so a big thanks to both of them. They’ll be back, I’m sure. As for me, I still have to have contract talks with Quinner, but I’m told he is headed for West Clare next week, so you will probably have to put up with Marty Morrissey.

 

THE NOLANS: The

singing sisters who have

faced many challenges

 

Popular spin would have us believe that there was no such thing as a girl-singing group until the Spice Girls arrived on the scene in the 1990s with their Girl Power.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth, as almost 20 years before the Spice Girls appeared the Nolan sisters were singing their way to the top of the charts in most countries of the world. They were particularly big in Japan, winning a Japanese Grammy in 1992, and winning the Tokyo Music Festival in 1981 with ‘Sexy Music’. They had seven international hits between 1979 and 1982, and with record sales of more than 30 million, are one of the world’s all-time biggest-selling girl groups.

And so I was saddened to hear that the girls have had lots of hard times over the years. Almost all of them have been financially broke, some have suffered from depression, and a number of them have had cancer, including Bernie, who sadly died from the disease in 2013 at just 52 years of age.

It is clear that bad management at the height of their success let them down. Yet, despite all these traumas, they do not appear to be bitter. Recently, four of the sisters – Maureen, Anne, Linda and Colleen – have been featuring in a TV documentary ‘The Nolans go Cruising’, with six episodes following the sisters as they went on a Mediterranean cruise.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, with the Nolans being really normal and down to earth, and prepared to talk about their battles with all their troubles. They appeared very happy and relaxed as the programme was coming to a close. It was therefore a big shock to read in the papers that Linda and Anne were both once again diagnosed with cancer as soon as they returned from the cruise, and both are once again facing a major battle for survival.

Not least because they gave so much entertainment to so many people during their careers, it seems very unfair that the Nolan sisters have had so much misfortune in their lives. All we can do is wish them well and hope they yet again triumph over adversity.

* Staying with the subject of dancing, it is now unavoidable that our annual Cancer Care West and Lourdes Invalid Dance – which was due to be held in September – has to be cancelled, as there is no realistic chance that large gatherings will return any time in the near future. Therefore, and reluctantly, we have to call it off. Hopefully we will resume again in 2021, but sadly even that can’t be guaranteed.

 

And finally…pubs

and the pandemic

 

Finally for this week, as most of our rural pubs are still closed due to the regulations imposed on them by our Government, the scenes of shocking behaviour in a restaurant named Berlin in Dublin which have been shown on most media channels are so appalling and disgusting that they are almost unbelievable.

The worst thing is it shows that, no matter how many warnings we are given, there are always total idiots out there who will continue to act as if there is no pandemic at all.

Last weekend I booked a table in Dolan’s in Creggs for two of us. We were met by Alfie, the friendly security man, checked in, had our pizzas and a pint or two – all totally civilised and regulated. Last orders were taken at 10.15 pm and everyone was gone by 11 pm.

It shows that it can be done. No matter what the Government says, surely it would be much safer to have all our rural pubs open? There would be less people being attracted to the odd ones that are presently open, and it seems to me that country people are much more respectful and aware of the necessary social distancing and proper protocol.

However, it is probably true that behaviour like what we saw in Berlin will have more of an effect than the good habits being followed in most other places, and it’s highly likely that, as a result, we will find that the reopening of our local pubs will be put back once again. The longer it goes on there can be little doubt that more and more rural pubs will stay permanently closed.