Paul Healy on…Dublin v Kerry, Leicester’s dream…glancing at the snooker…and those thrilling talks between first-daters Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil…
Thank God, we’ll always have sport… When we were young, someone in – to quote Cat Stevens – “the old schoolyard” – might score four goals one day and then they might even score four more the next day. Then the bell went and dreams of being the next Malcolm McDonald or Kevin Keegan drifted off on another dreary afternoon in front of the books (memo to our own kids: keep studying).
But Luis Suárez? He’s just scored four goals in two successive games for Barcelona; that’s eight goals in less than three hours.
The schoolyard brought back to life in front of a watching world… Sport – such thrilling mood music in our lives.
In Croke Park last Sunday, fine entertainment as the magnificent Dubs powered their way to another convincing win over Kerry. The country’s GAA fans ask: Can anyone stop the Dubs?
In Kerry this summer, the nervous talk will be of a ‘lost kingdom’ – the natives will spend many nights wondering how their traditional supremacy can be recovered… On Sunday I was in Rooskey and took a spin to beautiful Leitrim Village.
I had a bowl of soup amidst Sunday afternoon drinkers, ricocheting pool balls and animated talk. On the screen above me, Leicester City were strolling to a 4-0 win over Swansea. The impossible dream – Leicester winning The Premiership – might be about to come true.
Leitrim Village is great, but I feel like going to Leicester now. I have dipped in and out of the snooker. Ronnie O’Sullivan was gracious in defeat and I was delighted for his conqueror, one-time journeyman Barry Hawkins.
The snooker isn’t the madcap, magical sporting soap opera it once was, but it’s still well worth a look, a half hour here or there in the evenings or late at night. Unlike the government formation talks, the snooker guarantees raw honesty – and promises real drama.
I have considered issuing a formal complaint to both RTE and TV3. Have we no standards left in this country?
I’ve imagined emailing both, pointing out that their nightly news footage surely should be prefaced by the standard warning: ‘Viewers are warned that they may find some of the following scenes distressing.’
But no such warning has preceded the nightly footage of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil teams, as they walk, with misguided self-importance, from their ‘Trinity talks.’ There was a time when the television channels would forewarn viewers of upcoming gruesome viewing.
At least Michael McGrath (Fianna Fáil) and Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael) tend to look solemnly ahead. In some contrast, Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael) opts for the smug, stiff upper lip look which has been perfected in recent years by Brendan Howlin (and others).
Michael Noonan annoys me too, but my least favourite ‘important politician emerging from tense government-formation talks’ at the moment is Barry Cowen (Fianna Fáil).
If I see any more footage of Deputy Cowen arrogantly strutting into the sunlight I will switch over to ‘First Dates.’ Come to think of it, has there ever been a worse ‘first date’ than this protracted one between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil?
Of course it’s largely a circus – less about the national interest than self-interest. This is about personalities, posturing and poker. It is an unseemly, dark game.
Fianna Fáil appear to have Fine Gael where they want them. Enda is clinging on. He is trying to renovate his cell and invite some new friends around – but all in the knowledge that he is on a political death row.
Fianna Fáil have all the power just now, but there is something distasteful about their approach. They know that they can force a humiliating climbdown by Kenny on Irish Water.
If Kenny doesn’t concede, he will be gone as Fine Gael leader, and the prize of a second term as Taoiseach will go down the drain.
Kenny surely can’t send Fine Gael hurtling towards another election on the water charges issue. If the Fine Gael parliamentary party decides to hold firm on its water charges policy – and face down Fianna Fáil – Kenny will have to be sacrificed.
Fianna Fáil have all the power just now and can probably force Fine Gael to u-turn on water. Fianna Fáil have been turning the Fine Gaelers on the spit, and every time it turns and Enda comes into view, FF are saying ‘capitulate, or you’re gone…and your party heads into an election on the back foot.’ All very unseemly.
Actually, watching Fianna Fáilers solemnly explain their position these days is quite an emotional experience. You’d swear they were paragons of virtue who never broke a promise in their exemplary lives!
Meanwhile, locally, new Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy is hardly relishing the prospect of another election after he finally realised his career ambition in spectacular style just last February.
Eugene has been knocking at the door of a prestigious house for many years – now that he’s finally got into the hallowed chambers, he must be a little alarmed to see the music being switched off, the wine glasses put away and the guests reaching for their coats.
However I think Eugene can take his coat off and expect the music to resume. Enda will probably get his historic moment in the sun. The bigger glint that he’ll see from the corner of his eye will be from the sharpening of knives behind his back.
And if Fine Gael and a few Independents do form a minority government, the old enemy (Fianna Fáil) will still hold the aces. Barry Cowen is smirking for a reason.
Meanwhile, in ‘other news’, there are hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland in mortgage arrears, and old men and women lie on hospital trolleys – reflecting on life in this great little country – as the thrilling ‘Trinity talks’ continue.
Er…breaking news. We awake to the confident spin on radio stations and social media that a deal is about to be done.
It seems that the two first-daters actually do want to meet again. They sat across from one another at the dinner table, tentatively eyed one another up, cracked a few dry jokes, traded a few sarcastic comments.
But now they’ve emerged holding hands, smiling sheepishly in the spotlight.
‘Eh, at first I thought ‘no way’…they’re not my type at all…definitely not what I was looking for. Especially when we started arguing for ages over that glass of water…but actually I wouldn’t mind seeing them again…we had a bit of fun…I’m not sure how far it would go or how long I’d like to spend with them…but yeah…maybe!’
Of course it remains to be seen if enough Independents will also be seduced.
Anyways, the nation rejoices. And, as for that new arrangement regarding water charges, it’s perfectly straightforward, isn’t it?