Back to the high stool for Toy Show 2022!

Our man Frank on a disappointing Toy Show, making the most of your time in sport, an entertaining edition of the Sunday World, and putting up the Christmas decorations a week early…

Up to a couple of years ago, I would look forward to the Late Late Toy Show with great gusto and whole-hearted enthusiasm, because I always used it as a form of escapism. On that Friday night each year, I would escape to the pub, where I would enjoy a few quiet pints while happily ignoring the mayhem taking place on the Late Late set and in thousands of homes around the country. However, for the last year or two I have actually sat down to watch the show.

Last year, as we got to grips with our first Covid Christmas, I really enjoyed it. In my piece the week after, I told you all what a wonderful show it was, and that Ryan Tubridy was an absolute master when it came to organising, running, and hosting it.

As a result, I was once again really looking forward to last Friday’s Late Late Toy Show – and this time without any intention of nipping off to the pub! I was settled in my chair in good time, ready for kick off but sadly, the magic just wasn’t there for me this year. By 11.15 pm, I was heading for bed, with more than an hour left in this year’s offering.

Somehow I didn’t warm to a few of the children, although the Leitrim and Newbridge girls were the exception. In fact, this time I felt Tubridy hogged the show himself, and everything else was just a sideshow.

Now I am well aware that the overall reaction to the show has been extremely positive, and it raised millions of euro for different charities, but for me, it just didn’t tick the boxes. If I am still around next year, it will be back to the high stool for the Late Late Toy Show!

Sticking with television and escapism, there is no doubt that certain shows fulfil that very important role. For me, I have recently become a big fan of Netflix series ‘Heartland’. It is a long-running series set on a horse ranch in America, and it follows the fortunes of a young girl and her family as they try to come to terms with the death of her mother in a car accident.

Since I started watching it a week or so ago, I have managed to squeeze in seven episodes! All I can say to you is, if you get a chance, try to watch it.

There are very few programmes nowadays that constantly deliver that feel-good factor, but from what I have seen so far, Heartland does just that. So if you do decide to take a look, I will be very surprised if you are disappointed with what you see.


Some sage advice for Creggs’ young guns…

On Sunday afternoon, I went to see the Creggs First XV take on Westport in a Connacht Junior League match. Just like Heartland, the Creggs rugby teams (Firsts or the Development XV) very seldom fail to deliver.

Despite losing an unprecedented seven players to injury during the course of the game on Sunday, they managed to beat a very strong, physical, and talented Mayo side by 29 points to 18. It was a win fashioned by old-style values like courage and commitment, allied to a large sprinkling of talent.

As I watched the team, which is made up of a large number of players under/in their early twenties, I imagined they must have felt on top of the world, almost invincible. I imagine they must be looking forward to long and glorious rugby careers – hopefully in the maroon and white of Creggs – and maybe for some, in the green of Connacht and Ireland.

Anyways, off I went home and didn’t give it another thought until about 3.30 am the following morning, when I found myself dreaming about the year 1971 (fifty years ago), when I was a twenty-year-old involved heavily in all kinds of sport. It was a year in which I was to win an U-21 football medal with Creggs, a Junior Provincial Towns Cup medal with Dundalk, and play in a major local soccer final at Oriel Park, after which I was invited to go to Liverpool Football Club for a trial.

In the course of our run in the rugby cup, we played Longford in one of the early rounds. I dropped a goal from somewhere near the halfway line (I modestly recall), and our bagman, the legendary Paddy ‘the Bowler’ Boland, put an extra forty or so yards on it. For years afterwards, he would tell whoever cared to listen that I had dropped a goal from over 100 yards.

In the final the same year, we played in Navan against Skerries. I made a clean break through the Skerries defence, but (momentarily forgetting that I was playing rugby) instead of going on and scoring the try, as I reached the 25-yard line in glorious isolation, I had a rush of blood to the head and let fly with my left foot and buried the ball into the back of the non-existent net.

Thankfully, despite my horrendous error, we won the final. My moment of madness, while never forgotten, was eventually forgiven.

At twenty years of age, despite my renowned lack of dedication, the sporting world was my oyster, and there was no knowing where my career would take me. As it transpired, I never did go to Liverpool. I had the shortest inter-county football career on record, which lasted about two months and was over before I was 23. In the end, I never got to wear the green of either Connacht or Ireland.

Actually, that last bit is not entirely true, as I wore the Connacht Junior jersey on two occasions – once in a 55-3 defeat to Ulster in the fog in Dungannon (where only for the fog, it could well have been a hundred…and maybe it was) and the other time in a narrow enough loss to Leinster in Portlaoise, in a game I have absolutely no memory of. All I know is that the fog saved my bacon up in Dungannon, but on a nice day in Portlaoise, there was no such safety net. The selectors saw enough, and I never again got a call for any more representative honours.

And so, as I woke from my dream and thought back to what I saw against Westport, I realised that while old age seems so far away now for all these young lads, sporting careers can be very fickle and even short lived. My advice is to grab every opportunity that comes your way, give it all you can for as long as you can, and don’t look back in later years and wonder what you might have achieved with a bit more dedication.

As for me, I have no regrets. I had great craic on and off many sporting fields. While I may not have any great national sporting achievements to my name, I can at least claim to have scored a drop goal from over 100 yards – if you don’t believe me, just ask the Bowler!


Daniel and Fr. Brian are my kind of gang!

I have long been a fan of the Sunday World newspaper. The fact that it has lasted for almost fifty years is a tribute to its popularity, and it remains the second-biggest selling Sunday paper in the country to this day. Having regular columnists who are extremely popular and well liked, such as Wee Daniel, Nathan, and Fr. Brian D’Arcy, along with others like Pat Spillane (who is liked and disliked in equal measure, but nonetheless, interesting and controversial) keeps the paper right up there with the Irish public, who are still buying it in large numbers.

Yet recently, I have found that the never-ending stories of gangland murders, attempted murders, foiled murders, murderers, failed murderers, billionaire drug cartel bosses, and all that sort of stuff, has grown to be a little tiresome. While the success of TV shows like Kin, Love Hate, and Hidden Assets proves that as a nation, we are interested in the carry on of such gangs, I for one have had enough, and would prefer to see other types of stories in the Sunday World.

Thankfully, this week there were two full pages of entertainment ads, and it was great to see that the music scene is finally back in action. The dances all seem to be running from 8.30 pm to just before midnight, and wouldn’t it be great if those dances were well supported and those hours became the norm. I imagine there would be a huge improvement in terms of absenteeism in the workplace if everything closes and stays closed at midnight!


Finally for this week…

People seem to be putting up their Christmas decorations even earlier this year, and I suppose we can thank our new friend Covid for that as well. We all need a bit of cheer to try and combat the seemingly never-ending misery, and the trees with their beautiful baubles and lights, and that feeling of excitement around putting up the decorations, gives us all a lift.

So, after a lifetime of putting our tree up on December 8th, this year we are moving it forward by a week. God willing, this week will see our tree go up for 2021.

A few years ago, we couldn’t find our decorations and there was a big panic. Thankfully they eventually turned up, and since then we have been very careful about putting them away… but I wonder where we put them last Christmas…


‘Till next week, Bye for now!