Enjoyable launch, brilliant Ballintubber and naughty Patrick…



Enjoyable book launch

There was a large crowd at Kevin McStay’s book launch in the Abbey Hotel last Thursday night.

  His memoir, ‘The Pressure Game’, is largely about his three years in the hot seat as manager of the Roscommon senior football team, a position he stepped down from in September 2018.

  The Roscommon resident continues to have a high profile as a GAA pundit with RTE, and has been a regular newspaper columnist over the years, most recently with the Irish Times.

  ‘The Pressure Game’ was written with Liam Hayes, an All-Ireland winning player with Meath and an accomplished journalist and publisher. The book was launched by RTE sports broadcaster and commentator Darragh Maloney.

  During an at times emotional speech, McStay recalled the highs and lows of his time as Roscommon manager. The book, he said, was a “warts and all” memoir, “the only way to tell a story”.

  In the book, McStay gives some insight into the breakdown of his relationship with Fergal O’Donnell (the duo were joint managers in 2016).

  On Thursday night, McStay said there had never been a big row…“it was nobody’s fault, it just wasn’t working out. This is life”. 

  He drew strong applause when condemning supporters who abuse players (and managers)…alluding to his contempt for the “sad haters…particularly the online gobshites”.

 The highlight of McStay’s management was a magnificent Connacht final win in 2017. There was also promotion to Division One, and qualification for the inaugural Super 8s.

  On the flip side, the team suffered a sobering All-Ireland quarter-final replay defeat to Mayo in 2017, and heavy losses in the Super 8s in 2018. A number of players would ultimately leave the squad, and McStay addresses this in the book.

  On Thursday night, in a measured reflection on the challenges involved in managing an intercounty team, McStay spoke of how honoured he had been to manage Roscommon, of his pride in all that had been achieved.

  “We won what we won, we lost what we lost…it was a magnificent experience…we had good times and bad times…for those three years, I had only the best of intentions for Roscommon football”.

  This was a proud night for the extended McStay family and a very enjoyable launch. The book will be of huge interest to GAA fans everywhere, particularly in Roscommon and Mayo!


Brilliant, Ballintubber!

I usually avoid RTE’s often cringeworthy reality television offerings.

  Show me Francis Brennan prancing around India, and I immediately ring the Indian Embassy in Dublin to profusely apologise (on behalf of the nation) for the embarrassment caused.

  As for ‘Room to Improve,’ I have a love/hate relationship with the phenomenon. Just the other night, I caught sight of Dermot and his victims (sorry, clients) sitting in a bath, together. I only continued watching (from behind the curtains) out of curiosity: Would Diarmuid Gavin saunter in at any moment, strip off his bathrobe and join the bath party?

  Operation Transformation? Great for weight-loss. I immediately switch it off and go for a long walk.

  Of course all such misgivings about this reality tv craze were cast aside last Sunday night when I watched ‘Raised by the Village’ on RTE. It featured Ballintubber in Co. Roscommon. The show’s concept goes something like this: take two ‘unruly’ teenagers from Dublin, move them in with separate families in a rural village, and see if the change of environment can (and I quote the producers) “get their lives back on track”.

  I must say I enjoyed the programme. One thing that really struck me was how beautiful Ballintubber looked…stunning aerial shots showcasing the fabulous landscape, the pretty village. Viewers also got a sense of how close-knit the community in Ballintubber is. All of the locals who featured, including host families the Garveys and Carleys, came across brilliantly. It really was a sensational ‘advertisement’ for Ballintubber.

  I should add that the two children from Dublin – Jordan and Warren – also made a positive impression. 

  Maybe I’ll get in on this reality TV craic. I might even pitch an idea to RTE…how about Daniel and Majella O’Donnell arrive in Ballintubber for a week…with Francis Brennan and Dermot Bannon in the back of the camper van – and viewers get to evict the celebrity of their choice? 


Naughty, Patrick!

It was his big moment. We’ve seen the very youthful looking Patrick O’Donovan on Irish TV, but this was a step up. It was Tuesday night…and on the generally superb Newsnight (BBC2), presenter Emily Maitlis was trying to unravel the latest dramatic moves in the Brexit chess game.

  So, Newsnight cut to Limerick…and Patrick O’Donovan’s big moment. Emily got the introduction wrong…“We are now joined by a member of the Irish Government, Patrick O’Donovan, the Minister for Finance”. While she went on to introduce a studio guest, the camera remained on Patrick…and I swear you could see him mulling over what he’d just heard…that lovely, ego-caressing introduction in front of the watching millions in the UK.

  Patrick knew he would have to correct Emily…he would have to do what guests always do in this situation…in this case, say ‘Actually, it’s Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Emily’.

  But he didn’t…instead, he rode it out. He stayed in Paschal Donohoe’s shoes. He lived his moment, he owned the stage. Naughty, Patrick!


The late Fonsy Nolan

When Fiona and I moved to Newtown, Roscommon many years ago, our new neighbours included Fonsy and Ann Nolan (and family). Indeed we would not have moved to Newtown at all were it not for the Nolan family, because it was from them that we purchased the site on which our house now stands. At the time, Fonsy was a keen farmer in the area. It was a pleasure dealing with him on that site purchase, a first insight for us into the gentleman in our midst.

  Whether in those days or in more recent years, after they moved to The Spinney in Roscommon Town, it has always been a pleasure to meet Fonsy and Ann, a very popular and highly regarded couple.

  Fonsy was of course very well-known too through his association with Roscommon Races, where he served in many capacities, including as President.

  I was very sad to hear of Fonsy’s passing last Friday. It was always a pleasure to meet this wonderfully friendly, modest and unassuming man. Fittingly, his commitment to community over a long life was reflected at the weekend when Guards of Honour were provided by three distinguished groups: Roscommon Agricultural Show, Roscommon Races and the IFA.

  Fonsy was one of the community’s great gentlemen. Sincere sympathy to his wife Ann, daughters Mary and Clare, son James, and extended family.

  May he rest in peace.

Racecourse tribute: Page 10.