Paul Healy’s Week


If Carlsberg did All-Ireland Football Championship 2nd round qualifiers….

Okay, so perhaps not; it wasn’t a classic, but it was an entertaining match and it was a beautiful evening. I

f you’ve ever dreaded going to a party, only for it to turn out to be a great night, you’ll have a sense of what it was like to experience the weather conditions in Cavan on Saturday evening.

We left Roscommon suitably untrusting of the skies, armed with coat and umbrella, only to discover as the evening went on that the sun would rule the skies. By this summer’s standards at least, it was a beautiful evening.

The pitch was in fabulous condition too. As for Kingspan Breffni Park, it has changed a lot since I used to report on games there in the late 1980s. It’s a nice, welcoming venue, and turning into a field of dreams for visiting Rossies.

We conceded a goal within 26 seconds but such early scores rarely worry me; early goals concentrate minds! Roscommon were on their game from the throw-in, and produced some fine scores.

I think they would have won regardless of the sending off that undoubtedly struck at the heart of Cavan’s chances. Roscommon were very much up for this and while there was some sloppy play, much of the performance was very impressive.

Scoring 3-17 against very respectable opponents speaks for itself. There were excellent performances from many players, including Cathal Cregg, Ultan Harney, David Keenan and Enda Smith.

Smith’s first goal was audacious – a calm finish after a surge from halfway – although the Cavan defence was a bit too accommodating. Substitute Diarmuid Murtagh was like a child who had finally been allowed into the playground.

On now to Brewster Park, expecting more of the same!


I like a bit of nostalgia, something which may be obvious from some of my previous columns.

Ah yes, I fondly remember getting all nostalgic in a column or two in the past…those were the days.

Anyways, I’ve seen a bit of the tennis from Wimbledon, but sadly I haven’t got time to sit in front of the telly for hours on end to enjoy what I don’t doubt is superb BBC coverage.

The bits I’ve seen have been gripping enough, but I couldn’t watch without thinking of Ille Nastase play-acting with ball-boys and umpire; being mischevious with the crowd; producing eccentric shots and helping staff/volunteers to cover the court when the rain came.

Nor could I watch without thinking of Billie Jean King, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, a grunting Jimmy Connors or even ice-cool, charmless but eerily fascinating Ivan Lendl.

Most of all, I couldn’t watch without thinking of how, growing up in Rooskey, we were entranced, summer after summer, by the coolest of them all, Bjorn Borg, the sensational Swede who won five Wimbledon titles in a row.

In particular his games against John McEnroe were memorable, and McEnroe v Borg became one of the great sporting rivalries of all time. Maybe the only moral of the story is that we have far more time to watch television when we’re teenagers.

This Saturday

This coming Saturday (July 11) it will be four years to the day since Roscommon Accident & Emergency Unit closes its doors. The war was over.There were casualties everywhere.

Much of the focus was on the impact on local political careers, on the grim-faced HSE chiefs, on the broken promises and shallow excuses of Government ‘leaders,’ but the real victims were of course the public.

The anger has clearly dissipated to a degree as the years have gone by, but my own view remains the same now as it was then: this was a gross betrayal of the people by Enda Kenny and James Reilly.

It shouldn’t have happened, not then, not that way, at least not until contingency plans or an equal or better service were in place. Claims that the facility had to close because HIQA had deemed it unsafe have been utterly discredited. HIQA hadn’t even visited Roscommon A&E.

Claims relating to cardiac-related deaths in Roscommon have also been utterly discredited. We are dealing here with very accomplished and ruthless spin doctors. In 2011 Roscommon may not, strictly speaking, have been ‘safe’ by the standards now being insisted upon, but that argument is just a smokescreen.

If the political will was there, the safety issues could have been addressed. If James Reilly had any doubts about safety and Roscommon Hospital, why did he make cast-iron assurances to voters here before the 2011 General Election? If he didn’t know enough about services in Roscommon when he dispatched his letter, why didn’t he know enough? If he didn’t know, why did he persist in issuing the letter?

In any event, any safety shortcomings could have been addressed if the political will was there. And, needless to say, we have not got the superb ambulance service we were promised.

I am not going to fall into the trap of saying ‘I know there’s millions of euro being invested in the hospital and that’s welcome’ because, as long as we’re talking about emergency services, reference to other developments at the hospital is a distraction.

On emergency services, not only is the jury not out – there’s no need for a jury. What happened four years ago was a debacle. We were, in the words of Hospital Consultant Liam McMullin, “thrown to the wolves.” As we approach another General Election, I wait with interest to hear what Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour, Sinn Fein and others propose in respect of emergency services in Roscommon over the coming weeks.