Paul Healy’s Week – 24th June 2016

Paul Healy on the opening of the Civic HQ in Roscommon; Dunphy at large…and an unexpected crisis for the banter brigade in Ballaghaderreen…

There was a great buzz at the official opening of Roscommon’s new Civic HQ. This was a Who’s Who of Roscommon politicians of the last several decades.

I felt a little faint, not because there were so many prominent politicians in the one place, but because it was quite warm and very crowded.

It wasn’t just politicians who were present….there were hundreds of people there for what was a real feel-good occasion. The Open Day was a tremendous success, with musical performers, displays by local Fire Services and Civil Defence, local food producers exhibiting and an artistic theme throughout the proceedings. I got there at around four o’clock and the place was packed.

There was a great atmosphere, an air of expectancy. The CEO, Eugene Cummins, spoke very well of all that Roscommon has to offer, while also being frank about the challenges ahead.

On speculation that some of South Roscommon could be transferred into Westmeath, he produced a memorable line. “Although Roscommon people are generous in every respect, giving away the family silver, or worse still, having it taken from under their noses, is going a step too far, and cannot be allowed to happen.”

Just at that moment, almost as if in harmony with Mr. Cummins’ defiance, an elevator to my left opened its doors and three members of the Castlerea Brass Band – led by Danny Burke – emerged from it, complete with instruments. The crowd parted respectfully.

It was like ‘Beam me up Scotty’ from Star Trek in reverse – more like ‘Beam me down Danny.’).

It was shortly afterwards that I felt a little faint. I went outside for some fresh air and got talking to Danny Burke. As our chat turned to football, Danny wisely warned against people writing off Galway footballers, who were due to face Mayo at the weekend. “I never saw a bad Galway team and I certainly wouldn’t be writing them off” the great Castlerea man said.

When I went back inside, Minister Denis Naughten was in full flow. After his speech, the formal unveiling of a plaque took place. The several hundred people in attendance began to mingle and enjoy refreshments.

It was a very happy occasion. There was good more news on the way for the guests. As I left, three men were carrying a spectacular looking dessert from their delivery fan into the Civic HQ. At the turn for Abbey Street, I met Paddy Joe, the barber.

More football talk. He too had been at the opening of the Civic HQ. Conscious that it was a formal event, with lots of public figures and politicians and fine suits, the one and only Paddy Joe had thought about his attire. “I wore the best uniform of all, Paul” he said. He did too. He had a very colourful headband on – and a Roscommon football jersey.


There was a time when sport only got on the front pages of the newspapers for reasons that had nothing to do with sport. Examples of sport invading the front pages (and the television news headlines) include the following: Peeing in a flower pot at the World Snooker Championships (Alex Higgins), doing time in jail (George Best, Tony Adams and others), headbutting a snooker official (Alex Higgins again).

Now however, sport is all over the media and the hype is relentless. Marian Finucane or Miriam O’Callaghan on a weekend morning can’t just stick with current affairs or human interest interviews; they too have to latch on to the latest bout of national hysteria surrounding Shane Lowry, Katie Taylor, Connacht Rugby or Leicester City.

Martin King won’t just tell us about the rain that’s going to fall over the country…he’ll grimace as he confirms that it will be wet over The Aviva Stadium!

This ‘The whole nation must go crazy about sport together’ phenomenon is with us to stay – and I suppose it’s not a bad thing. I can hardly complain. My column isn’t in the sports pages, but I frequently write on sport here. Sport has invaded not just our front pages (‘Shane’s agony’) but also pages two and three (‘Upbeat Irish fans begin trek to Lille for crunch Italy game’).

And so – here we go again – what a weekend of sport it was! Saturday’s first big event was Ireland v Belgium in the European Championships.

By the time you read this, Ireland will have exited the tournament or progressed after a great win against Italy last night (Wednesday).

Against Belgium, we were honest but poor. All of their irritating characteristics acknowledged, I still very much enjoy Brady, Dunphy and Giles. Eamonn is on the march again, I suspect. In the past, the great man came for the heads of Charlton, McCarthy, Kerr, Staunton and Trappatoni (with Noel King swatted aside without even a second glance).

Now I expect the Dunphy circus is heading for O’Neill town! After Ireland’s disappointing defeat, I listened to Mayo v Galway on the radio. It was a strange match; at least it was on the radio.

A total of three points were scored in the first twenty-five minutes or so. When Mayo came with a flurry of scores, it sounded like ‘normal service had resumed as soon as possible.’

Galway, hilariously overlooked by the experts on The Sunday Game the previous weekend – e.g. ‘Will Roscommon put it up to Mayo in the Connacht Final? – stormed back into contention.

At the end, they were worthy winners.

“The first shock of the season” one of the guys said on this weekend’s Sunday Game, a comment which may have raised eyebrows in Tipperary.

The result from Castlebar has apparently caused all sorts of confusion in Ballaghaderreen, where there are reports of crestfallen locals wandering around like lost souls, desperately wondering how they will replace the annual banter they engage in at this time of year (Rossies and Mayo-ites that is).