Paul Healy’s Week


We’re in Athlone, having a browse, with all the human traffic relentlessly ebbing and flowing, like the recession was one of those weird dreams that makes no sense.

The multitudes are drawn to the shops bearing the clothes; I stick it for a while, but it becomes monotonous, and soon I have escaped to the book shop.

After a while I am aware that the hour is upon us; I have to abandon Athlone’s shops for some place of refuge with a big TV screen.

I aim for the hotel, but I hear excited patriotic commotion from a pub, and so within a minute I am sitting in an establishment I’ve never really noticed before.

The crowd inside are roaring at the television. Ireland press forward. But Argentina have a big lead. I had forfeited the opening period of the World Rugby Quarter-Final for the joys of shopping/browsing. (I had also recorded the game).

The barman sports huge tattoos on his arm and his face is quite dour, but I don’t point that out to him.

There’s a mighty atmosphere in the pub as the crowd passionately will Ireland to overcome Argentina. This World Cup has really got us going.

And when Henshaw charges forward, it strikes me that I am watching a home-town hero, that the Athlone people around me are celebrating a local gone to battle against the swashbuckling, kind of exotic men from afar.

An Athlone-ite on the world stage taking on the unknown. To me, it’s like a Rooskey footballer went up against Ossie Ardiles or Mario Kempes in ’78.

Briefly, in the second half, Ireland ignite our passions, but we’re outplayed on the day by terrific opponents and we pay a heavy price too for the absence of heroes lost in battle.

When it’s all over, I decide to watch the TV3 ads, which, annoyingly, are punctuated by brief cameo appearances by Matt Cooper and Keith Wood.

I was enjoying those ads… Ten minutes after the final whistle – just ten – I suddenly hear the silence. I turn to my right and realise that everybody – everybody – has left.

The din is gone; the din-makers have dispersed in their mutual disappointment. The pub has emptied, just like the World Cup has suddenly emptied for Ireland.

As I leave, the barman with the tattoos is turned to jelly as he plays with his little daughter, who has entered the bar with the barman’s partner. He has a friendly goodbye for me.

I walk out into the Athlone sunshine as Joe Schmidt’s forlorn face fills the telly, the Ireland coach looking like a man who has had his dreams stolen in broad daylight.


Whenever I bump into former Roscommon Gaels great Seamus Comiskey, he always says ‘We’ll be back.’

He’s referring to Leeds United. And there are countless thousands of us still out there, still believing. Leeds United fans, that is.

In recent years, I’ve been reasonably okay about the status of the slumbering giants of English football. My logic has been that, as long as Leeds aren’t relegated from The Championship, it’s okay – the ship is steadying, the return to The Premiership will happen.

I have trusted ‘the system’ from afar. But here’s this week’s update.

Leeds (all of a sudden 18th in The Championship, after a run of disappointing results) have just appointed their sixth manager since April 2014.

This can’t be satisfying anyone, bar the guy who makes name plates for the manager’s door/desk. Meanwhile, Massimo Cellino, the seemingly very eccentric owner of Leeds, has been banned by the Football League from running the club, due to his dodgy tax affairs (in Italy).

The new Leeds boss is Steve Evans. Not having heard of him, I googled him. Just who is our (latest) saviour? The first image/story that appeared showed Evans arriving at Elland Road in a t-shirt, flip flops and with a sombrero on his head.

This alarmed me.

It was a fine sombrero, but that’s not the point. I was relieved to read that there was an explanation of sorts; it seems the dressing up in beach wear routine happened in May, after Evans, then manager of Rotterdam, avoided relegation.

They subsequently sacked him anyway. But not before he turned up at a Rotterdam/Leeds game in a sombrero. It’s a long way from the glory days of Don Revie.

Still, I wish Mr. Evans well as Leeds United manager.

I’d send him a postcard congratulating him only it might be out of date by the time it gets to Leeds. As for Seamus Comiskey and all the other Leeds fans, including yours truly, we know the we are being tested – but we will be back.


People who have an interest in such matters keep asking: What’s going on in Fianna Fail? I no longer know what to say.

The Fianna Fail candidate selection saga is a bit like Dallas – great entertainment at its peak, but tiresome towards the end. Or The X Factor; good craic for a while until it became a bit of a farce…

Seriously, what are Fianna Fail up to locally?

One by one various supposed big-hitters are falling by the wayside. Just to remind readers, what we’re talking about here is the race to be the Fianna Fail candidate (or candidates) in Roscommon/Galway in the forthcoming General Election.

Fianna Fail has returned a TD in Roscommon in every single election since 1927…except the last one. With Fine Gael on the back foot since Roscommon A&E closed, you’d have thought Fianna Fail were facing an open goal this time around; but they’re even struggling to select their penalty-taker.

This is working heavily to the advantage of Cllr. Maura Hopkins in the Fine Gael camp. Fianna Fail aren’t likely to prevaricate much longer.

However I won’t be surprised if there’s a few more twists in this political saga before a candidate (finally) emerges.