On Liveline today, I was pleased to hear lots of common sense from a familiar voice. One of Joe’s callers was Dr. Greg Kelly, the Castlerea-based GP. Dr. Greg spoke well, reflecting the thoughts of the man and woman in the street/surgery, while modestly bringing his own knowledge and experience to the debates on the course of the pandemic and the troubled vaccine rollout.
It’s almost 20 years since Dr. Greg flirted with a political career, famously losing out narrowly (and dramatically) when running for the Dáil in 2002. In the years since, he’s been an understated and credible advocate of the need to fight for adequate health services, both locally and nationally.
Buoyed by the brilliance of Tipperary jockey Rachael Blackmore – who is causing a sensation at Cheltenham – I did an uncharacteristic thing today. I picked up a copy of the Racing Post, which, incidentally, is printed by the Roscommon People’s printers, the Meath Chronicle. My browsing suggests that it’s a fine paper, packed with informed articles, statistics and betting odds.
Victory in today’s first race at Cheltenham was Blackmore’s sixth of the festival, confirming her status as leading jockey. Later, in the Gold Cup, Rachael flirts with immortality, but her strong finish on A Plus Tard can’t deny Jack Kennedy on Minella Indo.
She may have had to settle for ‘silver’ in the Gold Cup, but Rachael dominated Cheltenham. Her stunning feats over recent days brightened life for millions of people in Ireland and the UK (and increased sales of the Racing Post in Roscommon).
Later on Friday
Driving along a stretch of road which includes about ten houses, I can’t help but notice that three men have (no doubt unwittingly) thrown down the gauntlet. On this beautiful afternoon, these three wise men have a subtle message for us all. Nobody can escape from the truth of their message.
There they go, two on their ride-on lawnmowers, one with a hand-held mower, these three unrelated men in their unrelated gardens, deciding for us all that the time has come…
I’d forgotten that he was also known as ‘Lash’. The nickname that registered most with me was ‘Hotshot Lorimer’. Peter Lorimer, who died today, was comic strip hero Roy of the Rovers brought to life.
As a young Leeds supporter in Rooskey in the 1970s, I was confident that my friends – who bizarrely supported other clubs – all had more than a sneaking fondness for Lorimer. How could a teenage football fan not love a man deemed to have the strongest shot in football?
We actually saw very little live football in those days. What we saw, we added to with our imagination. What we read in Shoot! magazine helped, as did those wonderful, atmospheric commentaries on BBC Radio.
Lorimer, a Scottish international, was one of the stars of the great Leeds United team (moulded by Don Revie). His thunderbolt shots were feared by the goalkeepers of the day. He made 705 appearances for Leeds, and remains the club’s all-time top scorer, with 238 goals.
Thankfully, there is some impressive footage of him on YouTube. Have a look at his ‘Top 20 Goals’ there and you will see why Peter Lorimer was so loved. Rest in peace, Hotshot Lorimer. You excited the imagination of a young boy in Rooskey over 40 years ago; you thrilled millions of people in your lifetime.
Later on Saturday
As the Scottish try count mercilessly rises on the TV, I’m wondering how deflating it must be to play for Italy just now. Certainly it’s an honour to represent your country, but it can’t be much fun getting well beaten every time you take the field. Scotland have just scored try number eight. This Six Nations tournament is made up of five credible contenders and one eternal minnow. Italy have lost 52 of their last 54 matches. Still, I suppose Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Reassuring headline of the week (from Saturday’s Irish Independent): ‘I don’t see Dublin winning 8 of next 10 All-Irelands – Gilroy’.
Still on Saturday…
I don’t necessarily wish to turn this into a rugby column, but the Guinness Six Nations has certainly distracted us from the Covid gloom today. Hot on the heels of Scotland’s romp against the poor Italians, came a magnificent Ireland performance against England. This was vintage Ireland, the team producing a superb hour of rugby after a slow start. Heroes all over the field, including Tadhg Furlong, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton and just about everyone else. Special mention to Athlone’s superstar, Robbie Henshaw, the RTE man of the match. A memorable day ended with touching tears from CJ Stander, playing his last game for Ireland.
In a memorable episode of ‘The Likely Lads’, a classic UK sit-com, the characters tried to avoid finding out the result of an England match. They’d really struggle today, in the age of social media/smartphones. I recorded France v Wales, and like the ‘Likely Lads’ many decades ago, I tried to avoid the score all night. Somehow I succeeded. Finally, around midnight, I fast-forwarded my way through the game, and what a classic it was. Sport is cruel, sport is wonderful. In a sensational finale, France denied Wales the Grand Slam with a late, late try. Wales may still win the championship (unless the French defeat Scotland by 21 points or more this Friday). Another thriller is in store.
I bow to the inevitable (see ‘Later on Friday’) and cut the grass. The weather is beautiful. It’s relaxing. There’s time to think. Rod Stewart was wrong, the first cut isn’t the deepest. As it’s the ‘opening day of the season’, I keep the cut short – and try to make sure the thinking isn’t too deep either. A beautiful spring, the promise of summer, the scent of the garden…this is just what we need.
Are the good people in Tayto-land serious? Are they having a laugh? It’s bad enough that the number of crisps in a Tayto bag has been mischeviously reduced in recent years – a sort of snacks’ tax – but now it’s reaching crisis proportions.
Today, as part of a bigger ‘shop’, I bought a Tayto six-pack. Firstly, and I swear it’s true, there was an empty bag included. Empty! Then, when we checked the remaining bags, it was shocking to note how few crisps were in them! The great Crisp Cull continues. I know it’s been going on for years…just as chocolate bars are getting smaller…but how can they be so heartless as to escalate this during a pandemic?
Someone in Tayto-land needs to stop this madness. I know the empty bag had to be an error, but the timing is terrible. Thin Tayto bags. Ruthless crisp culling. Now, the latest ‘tasteless’ affront: an empty bag.
This is not good enough. This is far from hunky-dory…
I recorded – and haven’t yet watched – the new reality show on RTE 1 (otherwise known as Claire Byrne Live Debate on a United Ireland) but was disappointed to hear that the colourful, compelling (if frequently annoying) Joe Brolly was first to be voted out of the house…