Delight at Holly’s return…and dancing with the (rugby) stars!

Our man Frank enjoyed some live sports action and some varied TV on Sunday; He responds to a reader’s communication on Galway Cycling Campaign; Muses on Gardaí entry requirements (and Massey Fergusons)…

It’s Sunday evening as I write, and I have just come back from watching our Creggs lads defeat Carrick-on-Shannon in a most enjoyable junior rugby league match up in Creggs. As the evening went on and became colder and colder, I found myself watching a little bit of television.

First of all, I tuned into Manchester United against Tottenham Hotspur, and despite my almost lifelong devotion to the Reds (that’s Man Utd), I turned away from the game after about twenty minutes. Funnily enough it wasn’t a terrible game – although Spurs seemed to me to dominate it (it ended in a 2-2 draw) – and would probably be one of United’s more entertaining performances of the season, particularly as they scored a couple of goals, but after thoroughly enjoying the effort, passion, and excitement of the rugby match in Creggs, I just couldn’t find anything to excite me in the performances of the overpaid, underperforming, so-called soccer superstars.

From there, I went to Dancing with the Stars on RTÉ, and hard as I tried, I couldn’t find any stars. Of the eleven big names, I recognised only four – Davy Russell, Rory Cowan, Rosanna Davison and Eileen Dunne – and to call any of them a star, except retired jockey Russell, would certainly be stretching things.

Just as with the soccer, I only watched little bits here and there, but remarkably (considering how little I knew of most of the contestants) I actually enjoyed it. If I am not in Clifden next Sunday for the big cup rugby showdown between Connemara and Creggs (hopefully I will be), I might even tune in to what will be the first show where one of the dancers will be sent home.

Then, thanks to the magic of the recording button, myself and Carol had a look at Dancing on Ice on ITV, and for both of us the main interest was to see the return to our TV screens of Holly Willoughby.

In case you have lived on Mars or outer space for the last number of months, you may not have known that Ms Willoughby, whom I happen to really like as a TV presenter, took time off from all TV shows after police uncovered a plot to kidnap her. After three months away, this was to be her first appearance back on the big stage. In a simple message to her fans she said “and so it begins” – which people are taking to mean she will be back.

Anyway, I thought it all went well, and Holly appeared perfectly comfortable with her role along with her co-host and long-time friend Stephen Mulhern… though social media is already focusing on the fact that her voice was “distracted” (whatever that means). But after all she’s been through, I really hope she can get over the kidnap scare and quickly return to our morning TV schedule.

As a happily retired OAP, I often find myself throwing an early morning eye on This Morning (that’s the name of her TV show) and I can honestly tell you that Holly’s presence does it no harm at all.

As with our dancing show, I only watched bits of the performances, but it was great to see Holly back and I hope it’s not a one-off appearance.

Before I leave the rugby match in Creggs, it was a game that was a credit to two wholehearted teams, and for me the highlight was the intercept try from the halfway line, scored by my veteran (very) son Mark. It’s been many a year since he ran that far, and probably will be again.

However, for us in Creggs, it was a great weekend of rugby, with the Junior One team beating Corinthians on Saturday evening by a single point to earn a place in the quarter-final of the Junior Cup, away – as I said earlier – to the Connemara All Blacks this Sunday. There were also underage and girls’ victories which I’m sure will be reported in the sports section of this paper, so all told it was a very successful weekend.

The weekend was also notable for the return to our playing colours of Maurice Buckley, who despite living in London, plans to return each weekend to play for Creggs – maybe that’s the spirit that makes our little club such a great place to be part of.

A worthy initiative that can save lives

In my piece of a fortnight ago, I told you how I passed out a cyclist on the Tuam road out of Galway, who, on a particularly dark, dreary, wet evening, was all dressed in black while cycling on a bicycle (him, not me) with no sign of any light or reflectors. I really couldn’t believe that anyone could be so careless and so stupid.

Normally I would not expect much of a reaction from my reader(s) about such a piece, but it obviously hit a chord with one of them, because he went to the trouble of sending me a piece that he cut out of the corresponding edition of the Galway Advertiser. ‘Reminding people of the need for lights on your bike’ was the headline on the article and it told how the Galway Cycling Campaign were out distributing free lights to passing cyclists on a number of occasions this winter.

Councillor Niall Murphy said he had been in meetings where Gardaí and officials had complained about the number of cyclists without lights, and he felt that it was better to give lights to them and to make them aware of their own responsibilities, rather than prosecuting and ultimately fining them. I didn’t know that there is a law out there that requires a cyclist to have a light after dark (they should have to wear some hi-viz clothing as well), and obviously my Tuam Road cyclist didn’t either, or else choose to ignore it, but I have to say I applaud the Galway Campaign and maybe other counties could follow suit.

In the meantime, if you cycle, make sure you can be seen by motorists – particularly during the winter months – wear your proper gear and have front and rear lights, and don’t join the ever-increasing number of cyclists who are getting knocked down on our roads.

Last year in Galway they distributed more than 500 pairs of lights, which, while very praiseworthy, suggests that more than 500 cyclists passed the Campaign Members without any lights. It’s a frightening number, so well done to those members who are giving up their own time to help make the roads around Galway safer, and if they have a spare few moments any time soon, maybe head out the Tuam road and give my friend a couple of free lights. It just might save his life.

Avoiding Gardaí on the Massey Ferguson…

It’s been a long time since I drove a tractor – a Massey Ferguson 135 that my uncle Mikey owned – and as I drove it that time at about the age of nine or ten, the last person I would want to have seen while doing so would be a member of the Garda Siochana.

It wouldn’t matter anyway as I only drove it around Mikey’s farm and never on the roads, but as I read today’s papers, I am reminded how things have changed – both for guards and tractors – since those far-off days.

Back then, to join the Gardaí, a male had to be at least 5’9”, whereas now there is no height requirement at all, although a new recruit has to be aerobically fit and have a proficiency in either Irish or English. Many is the smaller man who missed out on a career in the Gardaí because they weren’t tall enough, but from today, not only can a small fellow get in, he can also be accepted almost up to his 50th birthday! Mind you, the fact that Guards must retire at 60 might make it unattractive for 50 year olds as they will have only 10 years to pension age.

For women, the height limit of 5’5” has also been abolished, so hopefully we will see a lot more ladies join the force.

Anyway, as I avoided the imaginary 5’9” Garda all those years ago on Mikey’s Ferguson tractor, which was powered by some type of a fuel called TVO that was withdrawn in 1974, little did I think that the cow dung that the cattle were depositing all around the place would one day actually power the modern tractor. And yet today, it is reckoned that in ten years’ time farmers will run their tractors on methane which will be harvested from slurry – it may only work for big farmers as it’s estimated you would need to have 700 cattle to produce enough gas to run an average tractor for ten hours every day for a year.

However, it all shows how much things change over a person’s lifetime – I can’t begin to imagine what a Garda will look like in another sixty years, or even worse, what kind of dung will be powering our machinery. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

And finally…

As I see that there will be no 11.30 Mass in Kiltoom next Sunday to facilitate the parishioners who are travelling to the All-Ireland final in Croke Park that afternoon, it reminded me of my young days when Fr Lohan was our parish priest.

All masses took place at the scheduled time, but if his beloved Galway were playing a big match, you could be sure that Fr Lohan would have you out in less than 15 minutes. Under no circumstances would he miss any bit of the game.

I am glad to see that Fr Logan’s legacy still lives on – and all I can do is wish St Brigid’s well and hope they bring home the cup!