It’s Sunday afternoon – and after my limited exertions on the dance floor in Dowd’s of Glinsk the night before – I am relaxing in front of the television, and in truth I am missing the excitement of the GAA Championships. As I find it hard to watch the antics of vastly overpaid soccer players, I begin to flick through the many sporting channels in the hope that I might find something worth looking at.
I stopped and looked at an English Rugby Championship game between Bristol – who are now coached by former Connacht boss Pat Lam – and Ealing, and it was an exciting all-action game, won by Lam’s men in the final minutes with a fantastic match-winning try.
Then, by sheer accident, I was lucky enough to tune into the extraordinary first victory on the European golf tour by young Greystones golfer Paul Dunne. The 24-year-old had to withstand ferocious pressure from former world number one Rory McIlroy – who came with a late run – but the young Wicklow lad held firm and produced an outrageous winning last round score of 61 strokes. It truly was nail-biting stuff, and when Dunne stood over a difficult chip on the last hole, I have to say that I was praying that his nerve would hold and that he would not make a mess of it. When he holed out that particular chip, pandemonium broke out and the imaginary roof nearly lifted off the golf course.
One of my abiding memories will be the sight of an absolutely delighted Shane Lowry – who also finished in the top ten – celebrating Dunne’s win at the end of it all.
At a time when we have so many world class golfers from our little island, it is great to welcome another one to the top tier. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that Paul Dunne can be one of the foremost golfers in the world.
Sticking with sport, and one of the big things about golf is that it is effectively a loner’s sport…in that most of the time you are on your own – and in that respect it is very different from a team sport like rugby. Usually in team sports, what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room, and it is very unusual for an individual to come out and be critical of management and coaches after – as in the case I am referring to – a Lions rugby tour, but that is exactly what the Tullow tank Sean O’Brien has done, and reaction to his comments has to say the least been mixed.
Over in Wales, legends like JJ Williams have roundly criticised the Irish international for being so forthright with his views – and once upon a time I would have agreed with him.
However, since the advent of professionalism, with everyone getting paid, I think a professional player has every right to talk about the way a team is prepared, and if he disagreed with the process, as O’Brien clearly did, why should he stay quiet? After all, he will never get to tour New Zealand again as a Lions rugby player, and if he thinks they were badly prepared by their management team, thereby impairing their chances of making history, then he is fully entitled to make his feelings known.
Back in Wales, they too are entitled to back their men – Warren Gatland and Rob Howley – who took the brunt of the Tullow man’s criticism, and I would say it will add a fair bit of needle to our Six Nations battle with the Welsh in the Aviva Stadium early in the New Year. I just hope O’Brien, who has had a lot of injury problems over the years, is fit and well to take on the Welsh, and that we at least send them home nursing a bit more wounded pride.
Don’t forget the pensioners!
As our senior citizens, of which I am now one, react to the speculation that our planned increase of €5 a week in the next Budget is going to be delayed by several months, we are told of pay rises for our TDs from the 1st of January, 2018 of €3,600 a year (€89,965 to €93,598), while the Taoiseach will see his salary go from €190,233 to €211,588, an increase of more than €21,000 a year.
Now I fully accept that our public representatives work very hard for their salaries, but it seems a bit harsh to me that I, and thousands like me, will have to forego my fiver because the country can’t afford it, while people on massive salaries will still get their increases – I suppose because there’s not that many of them, they’ll say it doesn’t cost that much.
It seems that as we recover from the effects of the recession all public servants are in for new pay rises – and more power to them – just don’t forget all of us who have made it as far as the old age pension.
Finally for this week, on Saturday last we had a fantastic crowd at the big dance in Dowd’s. The Lancers were, as promised, on top form, and the dance floor was filled from start to finish. We had loads of great prizes in the raffle, along with the door prize of a meal for two in the Abbey Hotel, and the whole thing was a tremendous success.
I would like to thank all the people who went door to door the last few weeks with our tickets, the many people who donated all our prizes, the people who sold and bought the raffle tickets, Tommy and Dolores Dowd for their hospitality, Jimmy Kearney and The Lancers for their wonderful entertainment, and particularly all who bought the dance tickets and all who went out of their way to attend on the night.
Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund will benefit equally from the funds raised, which, at the moment, looks to be close to the amazing total of €5,000 – all thanks to the kindness and generosity of all of you!