Paul Healy’s Week



Six-goal Gaels

The Roscommon club championships got off to a lively start over the weekend, supporters no doubt delighted that the action is underway. There’s nothing quite like the pride in one’s own parish/area which the GAA instills!

Performance of the weekend had to be Roscommon Gaels’ remarkable win away to Boyle in the SFC. Supporters of both clubs were scratching their heads in Abbey Park as the Gaels scored an astonishing six first-half goals.

Boyle, who steadied the leaking ship in the second half, will aim to bounce back from this shock. As for Roscommon Gaels, it’s a signal of serious intent from manager Frankie Dolan & Co.




Some mothers…

30 years or so ago, on an otherwise quiet day in the Roscommon Champion office, we received word that the great star of stage and screen, Michael Crawford, was ‘on vacation’ in the Tarmonbarry area.

It was a ‘wow’ moment – but not necessarily that far-fetched. After all, to this day some celebrities have holiday homes in the region, and/or have enjoyed a cruise on the River Shannon. Bono’s been known to drop in to Tarmonbarry for a bite to eat. Perhaps the ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’/Phantom of the Opera star (who has Irish ancestry) had relations in Roscommon/Longford?

I thought of that rumour/report from long ago this very evening, while watching a delightful programme on BBC Four. Recently in this column I mentioned how there are gems to be found on some of the lesser known TV channels, treasures that ought not be overlooked in this streaming age. A number of years ago (after his long-running show had ended) the great talk show host Michael Parkinson did a series in which he reflected on some of his more memorable interviews with selected stars. I’ve seen a few of them (Peter Cook, Tommy Cooper, Barry Humphries/Dame Edna, etc). This evening’s flashback programme featured a repeat of an hour-long interview with Crawford.

Those of us of the proverbial ‘certain age’ remember Crawford as a comedy sensation in the 1970s, when he starred as the accident-prone and generally idiotic (but endearing) Frank Spencer in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’. It was a classic sitcom, Crawford creating one of Britain’s most-loved comedy characters. The series was notable for its brilliant comedy/action sequences, Crawford famously doing all his own stunts. Later, the wider public was surprised to see the actor cast by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the lead part in The Phantom of the Opera. Crawford went on to become a worldwide star in that role. Now aged 81, he has had a glittering career.

In the Parkinson interview – recorded (I think) around 1999 – Crawford was a wonderful guest. The actor-singer came across as a charismatic and very likeable man. Modest about his great success, Crawford reflected on his career to that point with some brilliant anecdotes, while also treating Parkinson show viewers to some of the songs he was most associated with.

When the legendary Gene Kelly (‘Singing’ in the Rain’) met Crawford in a hotel room in America, he asked the rising star if he could dance. “No” came the reply. As the ‘audition’ continued, they ended up tap dancing together on a small coffee table, Crawford partly nervous, partly star-struck.

Kelly offered him a role. “I’m looking for an attractive idiot (for the part). My wife says you’re attractive… and I think you’re an idiot”.

Back in the Roscommon Champion all those years ago, photographer Gerard O’Loughlin and I set off on a mission: to find Michael Crawford. What an interview this would be! Now we weren’t fully convinced that the star was in Tarmonbarry, we had just heard a rumour. In those days, we didn’t need much prompting to ‘hit the road’.

Off we went, knocking on doors, asking locals for any  lead they might have to help with our quest for an exclusive. But there would be no sighting of Michael Crawford. Not a single ‘Ooh Betty’ (Frank Spencer’s catchphrase) was heard. He wasn’t there.

To the best of my knowledge, it was a playful rumour, maybe even a prank inspired by a Michael Crawford lookalike passing through the village!

We didn’t mind. Our egos could take it. As I recall, Gerard and I made an afternoon of it, enjoying one or two liquid scoops to make up for the journalistic scoop than never was. It wasn’t quite our finest hour. I guess some mothers do ‘ave ‘em …!




Women’s World Cup

The Women’s World Cup has been entertaining. The other day, England looked potential tournament winners as they hit China for six (6-1). Today, it was a different story. Nigeria, against whom the Republic of Ireland earned a deserved draw, dominated the English in an absorbing 0-0 draw.

The twists and turns included a red card for England’s Lauren James (for a stamping offence), a penalty award for England being overturned by VAR, and Nigeria missing a host of chances (including hitting the bar twice). When it went to a penalty shootout, as often happens it was the better team on the day that lost out. A greatly relieved England were fortunate to advance to the quarter-finals (though their character was never in doubt, and they have more quality than was shown on this occasion).

An aside: By now, we are well used to the sight of some self-assured footballers wearing bright-coloured boots to stand out from colleagues; today’s game was

a first sighting for me of Michelle Alozie’s even more fabulous footwear, the Nigerian player wearing two different coloured boots (apparently this is the norm for her).




Just a thought…

In the unlikely event of a frustrated (or paranoid) referee going to the media with a complaint about fellow referees and/or the relevant sport’s governing body, presumably the complainant would immediately be labelled a whistleblower?