Paul Healy’s Week

Wednesday

Another Roscommon People issue is ‘put to bed’. In it, I’ve given a brief mention to Edwin Poots, the new DUP leader, who mischievously said that history will be kind to his predecessor, Arlene Foster. I may begin a ‘POOTS-WATCH’ column and report weekly (perhaps even weakly) on the enigmatic Edwin’s leadership. I look forward to his long and colourful term at the top.

 

Thursday

This evening, Edwin Poots resigned as DUP leader…after just three weeks in situ. It’s chaos for the DUP, and also a setback for my ‘POOTS-WATCH’ column (now abandoned). Maybe I jinxed enigmatic Edwin by giving him a mention in this humble column? I suspect there’s more to it than that. Oh well. Political life will be a touch duller without him.

As an aside, I was amused by the Belfast Telegraph’s boast that, a few days on from his shock resignation, Edwin had “broken his silence” (to them, of course). This exclusive was supported by a quote from Edwin, who broke his silence thus: “I have nothing to say”.

 

Friday

Due to the good weather, Euro 2020, the (TV) golf – and an outbreak of maturity on my part – I haven’t seen or heard any political programmes over the past week or so.

So, for example, in place of a holier than thou Kerry man with a built-in cap staring down Matt and proclaiming “But what you must consider is…”, there’s the intoxicating distraction of sport, with engaging football and smiling fans at the Euros, and great golfing drama in the US.

In place of earnest debates on the admittedly excellent Channel 4 News, there’s been a couple of spontaneous barbeques at our house. Turning the burgers and sipping a cold beer, I’ve been missing out on the familiar political menu…those silly spats, fake rows, exaggerated claims, and all the spurious spin.

Ignoring the current affairs/political circus – taking a break from it, at least – is a summer hobby which I highly recommend.

 

Saturday

 

Oh seriously, they must be fuming in Sunday Independent Life magazine HQ…

They’ve just been scooped by those rather less glamorous neighbours in the Irish Independent Review section. As ever, the shy and not retiring Miriam is at the centre of it all.

Today, there’s yet another er…exclusive interview with Miriam O’Callaghan, another weekend newspaper grateful for the RTE star’s generosity with her time when the media comes calling.

This latest splash on Miriam is across two pages in Saturday’s Irish Independent, with a front page photo and a lame exclusive (Miriam: I’ll never run for president!). Actually, the exclamation mark is mine.

I can only assume that heads will roll in the Sunday Independent Life magazine HQ, where the Miriam-ometer mustn’t be working. Normally, ‘Life’ features Miriam a few times a year in massive photo/interview spreads, but this weekend they’ve been scooped.

Never fear, I’m here to update on the latest updates from modest Miriam. Asked about that perpetual presidential speculation, Miriam (who could have just said ‘Nah. Not interested’) managed to elaborate: “Those stories originated in polls. A couple of parties did polls with a list of names on them, including my name. And for what it’s worth, I topped a lot of them”.

On CNN’s John King saying someone had described her as Ireland’s Oprah, Miriam gushes: “She’s (Oprah Winfrey) probably the biggest box office female presenter on the planet”.

Asked about missing out on the Late Late Show hot seat, Miriam responded: “I got to present it twice as the first woman. So at least I am in the history books”.

There’s more too. And good luck to Miriam! I’m expecting the suitably bruised team in Life HQ to respond with a bigger interview, complete with a fashion shoot. For my part, I merely pledge to maintain my own Miriam-ometer and keep People readers posted.

 

Sunday

“This is the power of positive thinking” said new US Open Champion John Rahm, who has definitely approached the last three weeks in a better frame of mind than Edwin Poots did.

A thrilling final round in the US Open proved to be a Father’s Day treat for many of us. This is Sunday night TV Heaven. No amount of house or garden makeover shows could draw us away from a very dramatic finale.

Entering the back straight in a major, the greatest golfers in the world are tested way beyond their actual skill. Now it’s about temperament, mental strength, how you can cope under intense pressure.

Tonight, superstars began to self-implode once they had sight of the winning post. It made for high drama, riveting TV. Bryson DeChambeau scrambles an 8 on a par 4 hole. Rory McIllroy, purring with purpose all day, suddenly double-bogeys.

In the end, a great tournament has a fitting finale. A few weeks ago, Spain’s John Rahm was six shots clear in a tournament in America. Overnight, he tested positive for Covid, and had to withdraw. Tonight, Rahm thundered two dream putts in on holes 17 and 18, fist-pumping his way to an emotional first major win. He’s a charismatic golfer, who spoke with great dignity and humility moments after the greatest win of his career.

Elsewhere in the US, Leona Maguire’s tremendous run of form saw her come close to gaining a first win on the LPGA tour, the Cavan woman finishing second on a spectacular 23 under par.

 

Monday

A confession: By today, I was wilting. Even as an avid football fan, I was struggling to get excited by some of the fixtures in the sprawling Euro 2020 jamboree. Of course I’m still ‘onside’, still very grateful for this tournament, but over the past few days I’ve been choosing highlights’ shows over live games (making an exception for England v Scotland and Portugal v Germany).

Then, tonight, a reminder of why we love the game, why we love sport. Denmark’s Euro 2020 ride looked doomed over the past week. In their first game, star player Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch before having his life saved by medics. Distraught Danish players had to resume playing a couple of hours later. Eriksen, thankfully, is recovering well.

Tonight, Denmark produced an inspired performance to shock Russia, the Danes winning 4-1. With Belgium beating Finland in the other group game, it meant Denmark qualified for the knockout stages, amidst highly emotional scenes in Copenhagen. It was a thrilling performance by Denmark, a quality football match played against a very emotional backdrop. “Roy of the Rovers stuff” said RTE co-commentator Kenny Cunningham.

Soccer can serve up its share of boring fare, but one night in Copenhagen has reminded us of the glorious unpredictability and enduring appeal of the beautiful game.

 

Tuesday

 Due to lockdown, I hadn’t been on the new Oran road until now. It’s spectacular. Passing the GAA grounds, then progressing a little further, I was very pleasantly surprised by the stunning vision in front of me: a spectacular new road which curves and rises, almost taking one’s breath away. It really is a superb piece of infrastructure. Gone are the troublesome bends and old deficiencies. In their place, a ‘super-surface’, aptly celebrated by the presence of an Oran flag strategically perched on the hilltop which lords over the new roadway.

 

Wednesday

I see Jeffrey Donaldson is the new leader of the DUP, their third leader in a matter of weeks (see ‘Wednesday’ and ‘Thursday’ above). It’s a bit like that year (1978) when we had three popes…oh, maybe not.