Local heroes end a 27-year famine

Our man Frank has the lowdown on a historic win for Creggs RFC last weekend…and some musings on mucking down and watching Clarkson’s Farm…

It’s about 10 am on Sunday morning and I go to Creggs for the Sunday paper and maybe a pint of milk. As I enter Mikeen’s shop, I meet a few of the Creggs rugby team coming out. They are about to board a bus to bring them to the Sportsground in Galway where they have an afternoon date with the Connemara All Blacks in the Connacht Junior League final.

Down through the years we have played the All Blacks in lots of important games, and up until this season, we lost all of them. I always felt that we might not have fully believed we could or would win against them. However, on Sunday morning as I talked with our captain, Brian Diffley, I got the distinct impression that this team had total belief in themselves – belief but not cockiness –  that they were utterly confident in their ability to get the job done.

Just before 12 midday, Carol and myself hit off for the 2 pm kick-off. I can’t deny that, despite the lads’ confidence, doubts began to creep into my mind. I needn’t have worried though because despite an early concession of a Connemara try, we produced a performance that was as good as any I have ever seen in the Sportsground and, in winning by 26 points to 15, scored four absolutely brilliant team tries.

When the final whistle blew we had bridged a 27-year gap, and the huge Creggs contingent in attendance were – to use a soccer term – over the moon.

The team bus brought the lads to Mountbellew where they had a meal (and a few pints) in The Malt House. The victorious team arrived into Creggs to a heroes’ welcome shortly after 8 pm.  Bonfires were lit, horns blew and a large crowd turned out to meet them. I have to admit it was a sight I have dreamed about and longed for for many a year.

And as I watched all the lads who had performed so well on the day and were now provincial champions, I thought of men like my own nephew, Kevin Brandon, and of Tom Callaghan, Chris Duignan, and many, many more, who gave their all over many years to keep the club alive in some very bad times, and who never got the rewards. And my mind went back to Brian Diffley’s acceptance speech and I thought how apt and proper it was when he said the cup was not only for the present bunch of players but also for all those who went before, and who unfortunately never got across the line.

Funny enough, Kevin told me an amazing statistic that in almost thirty years playing rugby for Creggs, from six years of age until a year or two ago, he only ever played once in the Sportsground! As it happens, it was in a loss to the All Blacks three or four years ago in the cup final.

So the challenge now is for this team to regroup immediately, because this Sunday they play Ballinrobe in the cup semi-final in Creggs and the danger of complacency has to be guarded against! There is no fixture as dangerous as the one that comes after winning and celebrating a trophy.

Many years ago, our bogey team Ballina made history in Connacht by becoming the first junior club to win the Senior Cup, a feat that got great prominence on the national papers. The following Sunday they were playing us in the Junior League final, and they will tell you themselves to this day that their focus deserted them, and we took full advantage and deservedly beat them.
And so as I congratulate the team and the extended panel, the management team and everyone involved, I want to warn them of the dangers of complacency, and knowing Ballinrobe I can guarantee they will come with all guns blazing. If we are any way ‘off’ they could do what we did to Ballina all those years ago.

Before I leave Sunday’s game, I can honestly say I have never seen such unbridled joy as I did in Creggs on Sunday night. As we are waiting thirty years for the Junior Cup to come back, I can only imagine what it will be like when – not if – (I am confident now) we bring it home in a month or so! I can’t wait.


Down on the farm with Jeremy

It’s amazing how many people there are in public life – and maybe everywhere else as well – that divide our opinion, whom we either love or hate, with no in between.

Piers Morgan, Chris Eubank Senior, Conor McGregor and Anne Robinson immediately spring to my mind, and also high upon my list is TV host and presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

Now I know Clarkson’s recent uncouth and silly remarks about Meghan Markle have caused a lot of outrage over in England, and in other places as well, but they have done nothing to affect my opinion.

Long before this particular celebrity made those remarks that have cost him an awful lot in terms of money and popularity, I regarded Clarkson as an arrogant, pompous and self-opinionated person!

For years I studiously avoided watching either ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ or ‘Top Gear’. And so I have to admit that I was highly sceptical when a friend recently told me that a TV series about Clarkson’s new farming enterprise was a must-watch.

However, the same person had previously advised me about ‘Heartland’, a series that turned out to be my absolute favourite of all time – and so I tuned into Clarkson’s Farm. I can honestly tell you that I have not enjoyed anything as much for a long time.

Pre-Covid, Clarkson bought a 1,000-acre farm in the Cotswolds in England, without any farming experience and with very little knowledge of the business. This documentary series follows him as he comes to terms with all that’s involved in farming such a huge acreage. It’s as good a fly on the wall documentary as I have ever seen, and everything, good or bad, that happens is shown! I won’t spoil it on you by telling you what’s in store, but it really is an enthralling and highly entertaining series. All I can say is watch it (if you have something called Amazon Prime).

Funny enough, Clarkson the farmer is quite a pleasant fellow, and whatever else he is, he’s not afraid of long hours or hard work. Look it up if you can. I think you will really enjoy it.


And finally…

Maria Fitzmaurice asks me to tell you about ‘Home Baking by the Fireside’, which is completely free and starts in Dowd’s, Glinsk on Friday, 3rd of March at 7.30 pm.

It will last for one hour, and the classes will run for the month of March. At the event you will get a complimentary cuppa and some nice treats. Each week there will be a raffle where you can win the Baker’s Basket – sounds as if it would be nice to win it.

You can contact Maria at 086 3035766 and she will fill you in with all you need to know. So it’s ‘Baking by the Fireside’ and it’s on in Dowd’s, starting this Friday, 3rd of March at 7.30 pm. All are welcome to attend.