Paul Healy’s Week – 17th June 2016

Paul Healy on Roscommon’s win over Sligo; an enterprising start to Euro 2016 for Ireland…and a frustrating search for a euro coin, a newspaper and…mustard

Before the game, I (honestly) expected Roscommon to win by 8-10 points. But nobody expected that Roscommon would take such a meandering and risky route to their intended destination.

We started alright at Hyde Park on Sunday, but soon the New York blues returned. Roscommon began to miss goal chances, and Sligo’s route one approach to their full-forward line was spreading panic in the home defence.

Roscommon have been brittle on previous occasions and the familiar uneasiness returned – for players and fans – when Sligo converted a penalty that was rashly conceded.

There was no particular cause for concern until Roscommon conceded a second goal just before half-time. Just now our defence was open territory.

Suddenly we were eight points down and the home crowd fell into a subdued silence. It felt like 2015 all over again.

In the stand, a few of us agreed that it had been a dire half from Roscommon, but it was still possible to contemplate a successful comeback. We were already creating goal chances, we had the wind advantage to come, and – most importantly – we are a better side than Sligo.

It remained to be seen if the Roscommon players would crumble under the pressure, or stay composed and trust in themselves.

I (honestly) thought to myself ‘Roscommon could end up with 4-17 or so here.’

The early goal, seconds into the new half, was all we needed. Sligo, unlucky to lose Marren to a black card before the break, must have feared the worst now.

Roscommon opened up. The scores began to flow, and if the first-half performance had been disappointing, the fluency shown in the second half was very encouraging.

It is high time these fast-running, slick forwards went for goals a bit more. We learnt quite a bit about this developing Roscommon team on Sunday, and it was positive overall.

I should say ‘squad’, not ‘team’ – the role of the subs last weekend was one of the most encouraging aspects of a good day at the Hyde.


I thought Ireland played really well against Sweden in our Euro ’16 opener, certainly in the first half.

Martin O’Neill’s team were enterprising and creative and should really have had a goal or two by half-time. When the goal came, it was a thing of beauty, ‘Wes’ crashing a half-volley home after clever approach play by Coleman.

To our dismay, Ireland then retreated and there followed a period of sustained pressure from the previously subdued Swedes; you could sense that an equaliser was coming, and unfortunately it did, via an own goal.

It remains to be seen whether or not it was a vital point won or two points lost. One thing is for sure, we have nothing to fear in our remaining games; we can put it up to both Belgium and Italy. All to play for!

It happens to us all (including Bono)…

I felt like Bono, minus the singing voice and that bit about trying to solve the world’s problems.

I had been walking for over twenty minutes, but I still hadn’t found what I was looking for.

This happens so often. You’re in a town that you’re not entirely familiar with, and you just want a coffee, or something to eat, or a newspaper, but whatever direction you head off in, it seems that the one type of premises you want at that moment is going to elude you.

In these situations, I just get stubborn and keep walking. It happened to me today in Mullingar, a town which is actually very appealing.

Parking the car at the ‘Dublin end’ of the town, I sought out a parking meter and then realised I had no coins. It was just after lunchtime and I wanted a bowl of soup before heading back to the office in Roscommon.

Now I needed a one euro coin – but didn’t have one. ‘I’ll buy an Irish Independent’ I thought, get some change, put it in the parking meter and then grab a soup.

So I started looking around – and then started walking. I passed furniture shops, hairdressers’, cafes, pubs, antique shops and….a one euro shop.

On and on I went in my search for a newsagents. I knew it was going to be one of those towns – a town that will not yield what you want.

How could a town as great as Mullingar (and it is a great town) have such a stretch of businesses, without one which stocks newspapers? (Then again, there’s no pub in Roscommon town’s Main Street!).

I crossed the junction where you turn right for the old Longford Road. Actually, I turned right there. More hairdressers and barbers. I considered getting a haircut just to get some change for the parking meter.

It began to rain, but now I was a man possessed. Past a tattoo and piercing premises (no, not quite that desperate for change) and returned to Main Street. Past the Greville Arms. Past the traffic lights.

On and on I went, deep into the heart of Mullingar, reaching the bridge which leads you towards the Ballymahon Road. Unbelievable.

Still nowhere to buy a paper. Past the Turkish Barber. Yep, the Turkish Barber. Finally, I saw the type of convenience store that sells newspapers. F

eeling all walked out, I walked in. Mirror. Star. Times. All the Westmeath papers. No Irish Independent, with its take on the previous night’s Ireland/Sweden game. I walked out, and stubbornly walked on. More takeaways. More cafes. More hairdressers.

Next? I gave up, walking back to the convenience store…bought an Irish Times, secured a euro, embarked on the lengthy, wet walk back to my car, and was relieved that no parking attendant had arrived on the scene.

In the pub where I ordered soup, the tall barman gave me the type of welcome I’d expect Donald Trump to get at a party in Mexico. A bit of a sour stare.

After he served the soup, he disappeared out on to the Main Street, in the way that bartenders sometimes do when it’s quiet.

On my left, a man with a laptop and a pint was oblivious. Further up, three American tourists were dining. Waited to pay, but the barman was gone. Perhaps he was gone for an Irish Independent.

Eventually he returned, taking my cash with a muttered thanks. The Americans asked if he had any mustard. ‘No’ he said, and kept walking.

But, while mustard-less, the Americans were happy, and I don’t think any damage was done to our tourist industry.

Headed back to Roscommon, the land of free parking, picking up an Irish Independent when I got there.