Bundee is right: respect needs to be at the heart of all rugby 

Our man Frank on a worrying trend in rugby; Being impressed with James McClean on Patrick Kielty’s first Late Late Show; Returning to the topic of car insurance…

It’s Saturday evening as I write, and the rugby legend that Bundee Aki is fast becoming is being interviewed after his man of the match display in Ireland’s emphatic victory over Tonga.

In his opening remarks, Bundee used the word ‘respect’ and spoke about how he and his teammates had great respect for the Tonga team. I have to say that his statement struck a chord with me, because as someone who attends a lot of local rugby club games, it seems to me that respect for your opponents has gone out the window.

Back in the day, people would talk about how rugby players never questioned a referee’s decision, and other sports marvelled at the discipline that the players had. At all levels of the game, discipline was absolutely paramount.

But nowadays, we have the unsavoury development of teams and supporters whooping and hollering when an opponent makes a mistake – simple things like knock-ons and missed kicks are celebrated as if an All-Ireland has just been won. I have to say that I find the whole thing very annoying and disappointing. High-fives and backslapping occur whenever even the least advantage accrues, and it’s a long way removed from the way rugby used to be played.

Today (Sunday), I attended a vitally important GAA match in Kilbride, where our local lads preserved their intermediate championship status with a hard-fought and very intense win over St Aidan’s. Thankfully, when the final whistle went, our lads showed proper respect for the disappointed Aidan’s team, and refrained from any of the aforementioned whooping and hollering and ‘over the top’ celebrations.

I also wish to say that while our Creggs rugby team are certainly not the worst offenders when it comes to such disappointing behaviour, I will admit that it’s an undeniable development, and one I don’t like. I would like to see coaches everywhere join forces to stamp it out.

Rugby, by its nature, is a tough, physical game – and the people that play it are usually strong-willed characters – so all I ask is for them to stop acting like little children and show respect for themselves and their opponents.

Many, many years ago, a coach said to me that it’s harder to win with dignity than to lose with dignity, so my sincere hope is that we will hear nothing but encouragement on our rugby pitches in the future.


In praise of James McClean

Back now to last Friday night, and the whole country is beside itself with excitement as the Late Late Show returns to RTÉ, with Patrick Kielty as its new host… well, the whole country bar Carol and I, as we took ourselves out to the local for a quiet pint.

I would never have thought about the show again only for hearing and reading about it on the TV and papers the next day, and the general consensus was that Kielty had acquitted himself particularly well.

However, when I heard that one of his guests was Irish footballer James McClean, my interest picked up. And so I had to look for him on Catch up TV.

Derry-born McClean has over one hundred caps for the Republic of Ireland soccer team, while in his very successful career over in England, he has constantly been on the receiving end of anti-Irish abuse. As a footballer, he never fails to give 110% for whatever team he plays for (especially for Ireland), and while there have been more skillful players around, nobody has shown more commitment to the cause.

Among the abuses he has been subjected to are threats to burn himself, his wife, and their children in their beds. It’s impossible not to admire his total faith in his beliefs and refusal to let the abusers challenge those beliefs. He has also spoken a lot about his daughter Willow-Ivy, who has autism, and confirmed that he too has recently got tested and been diagnosed with the condition. He was also honest about his own mental health problems. I have to say that in this interview he lived up to all the expectations I had of him.

Nowadays, McClean is part of the Hollywood-backed Wrexham, where he rubs shoulders with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (had to Google him, as I’d never heard of him) and he freely admitted that it’s surreal to be texting them fairly regularly! On Saturday, he played a starring role in a 3-0 win over Grimsby Town.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to see and hear him, and to get an insight into the difficulties he faced as an Irish footballer in England, particularly for his refusal to wear the Poppy around Remembrance Day. If anything, I admire him more than I ever did – and that’s saying something.

I’m told the rest of the Late Late Show was pretty good as well, with Mary McAleese being hugely entertaining too – but thank God I went out – it meant I didn’t have to watch the 2 Johnnies!


Insurance musings!

In my column on the 12th of May last, I warned readers of the dangers of wandering deer on the road. I told you of a friend of mine who had the misfortune of running into one of these creatures, in the process  unfortunately killing the poor beast and doing about ten thousand euro worth of damage to her car.

As a result of that particular accident (and several more in the same area), Roscommon County Council have erected signs along the road, which is basically all they could do. Sadly however, the signs don’t appear to have had the required effect, as only last week two more deer met their Waterloo along the same stretch of road (and presumably two more cars were badly damaged).

Anyway, back to my friend and her car: as I told you in May, she had an insurance policy that included the provision of a replacement car in the event of an accident. However, the replacement car was only for the period of one week – after that she had to fend for herself.

The person in question has a very important job in the medical world, and as she has a daily commute of an hour (each way) to and from work, the offer of a car for a week only was of absolutely no use. And so, despite being under the impression that she was covered for the use of a replacement car, this lady had to go and buy another one to make sure she could get to her daily work.

Her insurance company also insisted that the car repairs be carried out by a garage of their choice. And so, at the end of April, her car was delivered to said garage – and my friend began a long, long wait.

As I write today (Monday, September 18th), the good news is that the woman’s car has finally been returned and, almost five months after the accident, she is back on the road.

As a result of all this, I rang my own insurance company (AXA) and asked them what would happen if my car was damaged. They assured me I would get a replacement one for as long as it was needed.

My advice to you all is to watch out for the signs warning of deer crossing, slow down, and be extra vigilant. Also, it is advisable to check your own policy and make sure what happened my friend doesn’t happen to you. It appears that, as with all insurance products, you really have to read and understand the small print – and everything isn’t always what it seems to be.


Community stunned by Oleg’s passing

Elsewhere in this column, I told you of Creggs’ victory in their relegation play-off against St Aidan’s, but in truth the entire event was overshadowed by the tragic death of Creggs physio Oleg Doroshkevich, who collapsed in the dressing room and passed away immediately after the game.

Oleg had been involved with the team for the last few years and was hugely popular with management and players. He invariably had a positive attitude, and always arrived with a smile on his face. He was totally invested in the team, the sport, and the community, and will be a huge loss to his family, Creggs GAA, and the wider community in Glenamaddy.

Many people from the Kilbride and St Aidan’s clubs came to Oleg’s aid, as well as the ambulance crew and first-aiders of the Roscommon Emergency Services, and Creggs GAA Club wishes to thank everyone for their assistance.

To Oleg’s wife Olga and family, and his many friends, we extend our sincerest sympathy. May he rest in peace.

And finally…

Down the road in Glinsk, the local ladies’ football club are celebrating 25 years in existence by holding a big social in Dowd’s this Saturday night, September 23rd.

Doors open at 9 pm, and there will be a door prize, a raffle, and presentations to past and present players. Live music will be provided by Harmony.

So if you want a night of music, dancing, and craic (who doesn’t?), Dowd’s is the place to be this Saturday night!