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Brexit, Pearses and D(enmark)-Day

 

 

On cusp of a deal

As we go to press on Wednesday night, a deal on Brexit looks an inevitability. Which is quite an achievement. And yet…not that surprising.

  There was always likely to be compromise, always likely to be eleventh hour poker playing. The details of the deal have not emerged as we go to press, but it’s looking good.

   That will be a massive relief to millions of people, not least farmers, small business owners and the public in general…in this country (not to mention in the UK). A no deal Brexit would have been a disaster.

  And yet…assuming a deal is agreed, there is still the hurdle of securing the approval of the House of Commons to be overcome. The House is expected to sit on Saturday. This could yet be a close vote. There will be pressure applied to ensure that the deal is validated by the public in…yes, a referendum. So there may yet be twists and turns this weekend. 

 

Pearses get their day in the sun

 

Sport really can be tough. Utter joy for Padraig Pearses…desolation for Roscommon Gaels. Pearses fully deserved to win Sunday’s County Final, and congratulations to them. Roscommon Gaels made a bright start but were then hit by two great goals, and they never fully recovered. Mind you, the Gaels made a real game of it in a pretty dramatic finale.

  Whatever side you were supporting, the fact is we were witnesses to history on Sunday. This Pearses team is bursting with power and quality, truly a golden generation for the Woodmount club. Watching them finally claim the Fahey Cup, it was hard to believe that the club had never produced county senior football champions before. They often came close – and had some great players and fine teams – but they had never got across the line.

  When the final whistle blew, it was a special moment. A historic one. As Pearses’ fans swarmed on to the pitch, first out of the blocks were a group of young kids, all clad in their club’s colours…the stars of the future at one with the present, and with the emotions stirred by thoughts of the past. A sea of red and white. Hugs, embraces, emotions released.

  The sea of people grew, merging into a red and white symbol of parish joy. The parishes of Moore, Taughmaconnell and Creagh. It was 5.30 pm on Sunday, the 13th of October, 2019. An emotional day, especially when one thinks of all the great Gaels who have gone before. A great day for a great club. Finally, the sea of people drifted towards the stand, and joint captains Niall Carty and Ronan Daly lifted the Fahey Cup high. History made, past heartache eased, new and boundless possibilities to be embraced. 

 

Gloom for the Gaels

 

Monday was dark and dreary and wet in the county town, and that just about summed up the mood of despondent Roscommon Gaels players, management, members and supporters. It was the morning after the day before, and a gloomy Monday in every way. 

  Watching Sunday’s game from the stand, you could sense how much pressure was on the players (and management). On both sides. Both sets of players were desperate to win. Neither side would have cared if the final score was 0-2 to 0-0…as long as they won. Pearses had never won the title; the Gaels were looking to exit a 15-year barren spell.

  It was impossible not to feel great sympathy for the vanquished. The Gaels have been ‘nearly men’ for a few seasons. Coming second holds no appeal to them. Sport is tough when you come so close to the summit, only to see a competitor inch past you in the final stages. Losing a big sporting final sickens your stomach. So much work put in over so many months. So many nights of training; so many scenarios spinning around in your head in the nights before the final. So much hope, that it would work out. And regrets are unavoidable afterwards. Where joy and relief was meant to be, now there are thoughts of what might have been, defining moments relived.

  Roscommon Gaels have put a huge amount into this season’s campaign, and for the most part it has been marked by success and joy. On Sunday, they battled to the very end, getting to within one score of salvation. Nine points behind at one stage, and with two men less for the last twelve minutes or so, they lost with honour. Pearses fully deserved their win, but the Gaels can hold their heads high. This is a club that is prospering on and off the field. I hope they can come back and challenge next year.

 

Soccer team’s D(enmark)-Day

 

The Republic of Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Georgia last Saturday was as boring as a classic episode of Oireachtas Report.

  Unaware that our columnist Frank Brandon was going through similar agony – he reveals in his column today that he deserted the pros for the grassroots (i.e. cutting the lawn) – I too abandoned the game, heading for the office to check in on my emails. There were a few mundane press releases, but, as if symbolically, no offer of a fortune from a foreign prince. Every now and again I had a weak moment and checked the score online…needless to say, still 0-0.

  Fast-forward to Tuesday. This time I stayed on late in the office and asked our daughter to record Switzerland v Ireland. I got home at 9.30 pm with low expectations. More fast-forwarding as I whizzed through the footage. We lost 2-0, but it would appear that we played with some structure and purpose, a good deal better than the toil in Tbilisi. (Then again, I was fast-forwarding).

  Our hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 now depend on the home game against Denmark next month. Win and we go through. It’s hard to be optimistic. Our lads are game but limited. All the more reason for some perspective, I suppose. We tend to overlook the fact that we are third seeds in the group. You know the mantra, but it’s hard to argue with…all together now: ‘Had we been told before the campaign began that we would be within a home win (in our last game) of qualifying, we’d have been happy…’ (Repeat as required over coming weeks).

  I’m glad the D-Day game is a few weeks’ away. Just now, after one point from two games, we feel vulnerable, exposed, on the cusp of a sad and tame exit. But the days will roll by, and the memory of Tbilisi will fade.

  By the time we face Denmark at home, hype and hope will have merged. The radio stations will crackle with talk of little else. The newspapers will speculate about possibly, just possibly, cutting Great Danes down to size. As limited as we are, we will be able to lift ourselves for that showdown. We will be glued to the telly and we will invoke the spirit of Big Jack. Beyond that, I don’t know. It will be in the lap of the Gods, our fate, if we’re lucky, to be determined by a random set-piece or deflection…

 

Bernard, Bercow and Mrs Brown….

 

The list of Late Late Show offences against the concept of entertainment grows week on week. Some Friday nights, to be fair, it can be grand, but more often than not there is a cringe factor. Then there’s the maddening ‘repeat guests’ – my old chestnut about Dermot Bannon, Diarmuid Gavin, Jason Byrne & Co.

  Last Friday night, we watched in growing horror. Bernard O’Shea – last seen prancing about with the media-shy Marty Morrissey – has written a book, titled: ‘My Wife is Married to a Feckin’ Eejit’. It may well be a funny book, but was its publication worthy of this prime-time coverage?

  I went into a dark room and closed my eyes (not really) and pined for the great days of the Late Late Show pomp.

  Desperate to share my anguish, I tweeted to the world, naming a few of the greats of Late Late Shows past…John Cleese, Tony Curtis, Billy Connolly, Spike Milligan. I forgot to add ‘Peter Sellers’, but enough fellow Tweeters got my point and shared my pain.

  When Bernard had finished explaining his considerable eejitry, I said I’d give last Friday’s Late Late Show another chance. But then Ryan only went and unloaded the entire cast of Mrs. Brown’s Boys on to the set. I thought they’d never stop coming. I actually admire Brendan O’Carroll, and sometimes find him funny. But this love-in (celebrating 20 years of Mrs. Brown’s Boys) was tiresome, excruciating in fact.

  Meanwhile, in the Late Late Show Green Room, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, must have assumed that he had been lured to Dublin under false pretences and was now being forced to watch this drivel as some sort of Irish revenge for that Brexit hell his countryfolk has subjected us to.

  As Mrs Brown/Brendan modestly listed all the charities the crew have helped, desperate viewers deserted to Graham Norton, where Robert De Niro and Bruce Springsteen had a slight celebrity status edge over Brendan and Bernard.

  I too switched over to the BBC, for fear that at any moment a giant Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ birthday cake would be wheeled out, and that either Marty Morrissey or Twink would burst from its midst.

  To be continued (no doubt)…

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