Paul Healy’s Week – 23rd September

Paul Healy on the pathetic Operation Transformation; Michael D and Miriam; The Kilbride ladies; The Mayo (and Dublin) men; Another unusual street sighting; Warm welcome for Cold Feet; resisting Facebook (just about)…and when Tommy Cooper met the Queen…
Every day

Most mornings now I awake in a cold sweat as I await the latest update. I am sure it’s the same for the entire populace. The waiting is torture.

Finally, either through social media or Ryan Tubridy on the radio, or maybe ‘Breaking News’ on Sky, we get the information we need: Gerald Kean or Karl Spain or Katherine Lynch has lost a few pounds/had a wobble/rounded up a band of cheerleaders at a crossroads at an unearthly hour of the morning.

My main criticism over the years of RTE’s ‘Operation Transformation’ – which I refuse to watch – is that it’s rubbish. It’s not just basic rubbish, it’s hyped-up, faux-dramatic and borderline manipulative rubbish.

Now I see where there’s been a lot of criticism this time around that the programme is essentially engaged in (another new word) ‘fat-shaming.’ (Obviously someone with too much time on their hands invented that term in the last while – and got away with it).

I would advise the growing band of critics of Operation Transformation to adopt the same policy as I have since it first arrived on the scene.

Switch the channel. That’s the transformation that uneasy viewers should treat themselves to.

Saturday

I think the Irish Independent and Irish Times may both have thought they had an exclusive interview with President Higgins on Saturday.

Well, the ‘Indo’ was predictably brash enough to claim it as an exclusive, while the Times simply went with ‘Fintan O’Toole meets President Higgins.’ It would appear that President Higgins didn’t grant the Indo an exclusive after all, but probably had his own ‘Press Night’, a bit like the GAA teams do, where he sat down with one journalist and then sat down with the next one a little while later.

The man formerly known as ‘Michael D’ has been a success as President, and relishes speaking on social issues, with an apparent utter (and welcome) disregard for protocol.

Asked at the weekend if he intends to run for a second term, President Higgins was non-committal. He certainly didn’t rule it out however. Cue another big spread on Miriam O’Callaghan in a forthcoming edition of the Sunday Independent’s LIFE Magazine?

Saturday evening

This evening in Roscommon town the horns were blaring, the cheers sounding out and the positive vibes all-conquering as Kilbride ladies team, management and supporters celebrated a truly famous victory in the Truly Irish Roscommon Ladies Senior Football Final.

I wasn’t at the game, but news of Kilbride’s great win wasn’t long circulating.

Seamus Duke covered the match for the Roscommon People and tweeted: ‘A pleasure to be at the ladies final today…phenomenal performance from Kilbride to win first senior title.’

That sums it up really.

Still on Saturday evening

Unusual street sighting (Part 2): The mighty bikers were hosting their fundraising Bike Night in aid of Bloodbike Ireland and a number of them were chatting outside The Railway Bar, their motorbikes forming an impressive line in front of them.

There was a good buzz. Then, from the direction of the County Library, came four young people carrying a sofa/couch on their shoulders. Through the darkness they weaved their way, carrying the sofa/couch past the Abbey Hotel, then crossing the road, before continuing in the direction of the Railway Station.

I am sure the bikers considered giving them a hand, but it was all over in a blink, and the bikers were already engaged with supporters and showing their bikes off to suitably wide-eyed local kids. Meanwhile, the youngsters continued their journey with the couch/sofa in good humour and with total commitment.

At least they could look forward to sitting down when the job was done. It was an unusual sight. Maybe the Irish edition of Gogglebox has found a Roscommon family? This ‘Late-night couch delivery’ follows on from the ‘Goat wandering up Main Street’ last week. What next?

Sunday

Dublin are a brilliant team when in full flow, and if they get on top of their opponents they can demolish them. But then when Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry got on top of an opponent in snooker, and were given openings, they often demolished them too.

Often when a player was facing Davis or Hendry, the underdog was already beaten before putting his bow tie on in the dressing room. Yet, on those occasions when someone managed to put pressure on Davis or Hendry, there was the chance they might crumble, or at least show weakness. That’s what pressure can do.

So it was with Dublin and Mayo on Sunday. This is why Mayo still have a great chance of winning Sam this year. If you do what Mayo did on Sunday, you can sow doubt in the Dubs, force errors, worry and unnerve them.

In this column last week we said that Dublin are the better team, but that Mayo ought to be the hungriest team in history. By the way, I thought Joe Brolly savaged Mayo in the Sunday Independent last weekend. It was too strong, too offensive, and, I imagine, inaccurate.

Back to last Sunday’s game: Mayo were terrific. Too much is being made of the concession of two own goals. They were just freaks that could haunt any team on any day.

Mayo played most of the good football on Sunday. Their comebacks from five down at half-time and three down going into injury-time were tremendous. Dublin may have been poor on the day, but that is primarily down to a magnificently tenacious Mayo.

Dublin are still a class act, and they contributed to Sunday’s gripping game, but they can be beaten. Beating them won’t be easy, of course. Mayo have to start from scratch again.

There is the fear (for Mayo) that on a drier day Dublin could shoot out of the blocks in the replay and race into a strong lead. But even if that happens, Mayo can come back again. They don’t panic and have a mental resolve that is beginning to remind me of Donegal at their peak under King Jim. Mayo can certainly win this replay.

Dublin deserve to be favourites and there should be no hype or over-confidence in Mayo, obviously. But when the white heat of battle is upon all again, there is every reason to believe that Mayo can do it. In the replay, as last Sunday, I expect there will be very little between the sides with ten or fifteen minutes to go. Mayo can then rise up and claim their destiny.

Their hunger and passion can prevail. It’s still a ‘big ask’ for Mayo, but I don’t know if Dublin will be able to cope with the most ravenous opposition there is out there.

Mayo can do it.

Monday

It’s great to see Cold Feet back. The comedy/drama was first broadcast in 1997.

We loved it then and, on hearing that it was returning two decades later – with virtually the entire original cast signed up – we braced ourselves for disappointment.

In fact it has turned out to be enjoyable, nostalgic and of high quality – a welcome reunion between a much-loved show and its now much older fans. The world has changed a lot since Cold Feet first came and went.

I imagine there are hundreds of thousands of fortysomethings throughout Ireland tuning in to ITV on Monday nights and dipping their toes back into Cold Feet.

Every day

I read this week that 60% of people in Ireland are on Facebook.

I am one of the remaining 40%. You may pity us, you may even think we are friend-less, but what many amongst the slightly smug 60% may not know, is that the other 40% of us regularly meet up in a giant warehouse to chat about all sorts of stuff.

It’s a form of human interaction. We call ourselves ‘friends.’ Sometimes we even show one another photographs of giant mushrooms. While we are still resisting the temptation to go down the Facebook/Twitter route, I will admit that we are constantly monitoring the situation.

While it’s nice to get some fresh air, we accept that our approach to communication is costly, time-consuming and sometimes plays havoc with our schedules.

Still, all it takes is for one of the 40% to come across a video of a cute cat and we’re arranging to meet up within months to begin the process of copying/sharing it.

So, anyways, still resisting all that stuff. To be continued…)

Long time ago…

With all the talk about All-Ireland Final tickets, I am reminded of the story about the great British comedian Tommy Cooper.

After a Royal Command appearance, Tommy was in the line-up of stars waiting to meet Queen Elizabeth.

They shook hands, the Queen said she enjoyed Tommy’s act, and then this exchange happened:

Tommy: ‘Do you like football, Your Majesty?’

Queen Elizabeth: ‘Well not really.’

Tommy: ‘In that case…do you mind if I have your Cup Final tickets?’

21 years ago…

21 years ago today…Fiona and I were married in Kilteevan Church, with reception following in the Royal Hotel!

No Cold Feet, no Facebook!

So, 21 great years and four great children on, here’s wishing a Happy Wedding Anniversary to my wonderful wife, Fiona, the woman who makes Paul Healy’s week every week.