Frank Brandon column

I may not watch the actual football

…but ‘Pundit Roy’ is TV gold!


Last week I told you that rugby – with full contact and full houses – had returned to New Zealand after the disastrous Covid-19 pandemic. As I write this on Sunday evening (Fathers’ Day, in case you forgot), I have watched two more early morning games – and thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

Also, since last week the Premier League in soccer has returned. To date, I haven’t watched any of the games. Yet paradoxically, the Friday night game between Manchester United and Spurs has given me some of the most enjoyable telly moments of the entire lockdown.

The reason of course is one controversial Cork man, the great Roy Keane. His punditry on the game was even more outspoken and critical than usual, and both his half-time and full-time assessments were pure TV gold. If you don’t follow the sport, United were a goal down at half-time. In Keane’s opinion, defenders Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw (to a slightly lesser extent), and goalie David De Gea were all severely at fault. Maguire, who cost United in excess of £80 million, was pretty easily beaten by the goalscorer, Bergwijn, before De Gea let the shot fly past him into the net. The shot was well struck, but it was straight at the ‘keeper.

This was the cue for an unforgettable half-time rant by a fuming Keane. Among his many points, he declared that neither Maguire or De Gea should be allowed to go back on the team bus, but should have to share a taxi. He also said that if he was still playing he would be swinging punches at the goalie in the dressing room at half-time. And he said that De Gea was the most overrated goalkeeper in the world. Keane added that they should both hang their head in shame and that (effectively) they were a disgrace to the Man United jersey.

To see Keane so fired up and – as he said himself – “thoroughly disgusted”, is one of the great sights in sport. It certainly begs the question: if he’s like that at half-time in a game in which he is only a pundit, and a middle-aged one at that, what must he have been like in his prime as the captain of the all-conquering Man United team? I shudder to think what it must have been like to get the famous Keane stare if you had failed to deliver!

As a player he wasn’t the most skillful, or the fastest, but he more than made up for it with his desire, his determination, and his total commitment.

In fairness to United they (apparently) had a better second half against Spurs and actually drew the game. The good news for pundit watchers is that Keano was still not a bit happy. Like him or hate him (I like him, by the way) there is no-one anywhere able to stir it up and dish it out like our Roy. I hope he never again gets a management job and that he stays as he is for a long time to come. If he does, while I won’t watch many, maybe any, games, I will always tune in at both half-time and full-time for his assessment.

I wonder did the boys get back on the team bus? Either way, the former United player Patrice Evra offered them a lift back, so at least they would have been spared the taxi fare.


A sense of loss that was

felt across the nation


The tragic death of Detective Garda Colm Horkan will be covered in detail in other areas of this newspaper, but for me, the funeral service which was shown on TV on Sunday morning will live forever in my memory.

That ceremony showcased the value and importance of the Gardaí Síochana to our little nation.

The sense of loss was shared by everyone in the whole country, epitomised by the minute’s silence that was observed nationwide – including in our own kitchen – at twelve midday, and the way the Irish flag was so carefully folded and presented to Marty Horkan, Colm’s heartbroken father, was just so appropriate and dignified. I have to say I found the entire ceremony to be very touching and emotional.

All over Ireland, his colleagues, friends and even total strangers have been badly affected by the terrible events that unfolded in Castlerea last week, but obviously his family are suffering the most. All I can do is express my sincere sympathy on their immense loss. May Colm rest in peace.


Rise in dog

theft is despicable


From the days of my childhood when we were told that the dog was ‘man’s best friend’, and when we watched enthralled at the adventures of Lassie as she survived the most extraordinary dangers and challenges, dogs have been firmly established as vital members of so many aspects of Irish life.

The farmer has his sheepdogs, we have rescue dogs, guide dogs, sniffer dogs and even police dogs, and I’m sure many other types of service dogs, but it is as a pet that the little Jack Russell or the big Labrador (amongst many others) have become almost as integral a part of our families as any of the humans.

We have all heard of amazing stories of the unparalleled devotion of many of our pets, of their heroism in oftentimes saving their owners’ lives, and their refusal to leave their masters’ side, even in death. It is true to say that many people would be completely lost without their favourite pet. Loyalty, devotion and love are three qualities that dogs have in abundance.

With this in mind, I find the current upsurge in dog theft leaves me almost speechless with annoyance. The scum that is going round all our local areas – Curraghboy, Castlecoote, Glenamaddy, Williamstown, to name a few – and stealing people’s treasured pets are the lowest of the low, and obviously couldn’t care less about the heartbreak, upset and desolation they leave behind.

I am not advocating theft of any sort, but at least if you lose a telly or some such item of technology, it’s really only a yoke, and it can be replaced…but losing your most lovable pet dog is something you may never get over, something that may affect you for the rest of your life.

I don’t know what type of penalty there is for theft of pets, but in my opinion it needs to be looked at and we should make it a very serious offence, punished by equally serious jail-time. Maybe if those lowlifes thought they would be severely dealt with by the law they might think twice before destroying the lives of so many people. In the meantime, keep a very close eye on your pets, look out for suspicious activity in your area, and don’t hesitate to call the local Gardaí.

Make it as difficult as possible for those who carry out such despicable, horrible crimes. It also goes without saying that if they have so little regard for the feelings of the dogs’ owners, you would have to wonder how well they treat the dogs themselves. I don’t really want to think about that.

And finally…


Finally for this week, out here in Kilbegnet our local parish priest Fr. Donal Morris recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination. I want to congratulate him and wish him well. It’s some achievement and milestone.

While celebrations have to be muted, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, I am sure it will be suitably marked in the future. Well done Fr. Donal, and here’s to many, many more.