Paul Healy’s Week


All week…


A beautiful love story has unfolded in pandemic-struck Ireland in recent weeks…

Thousands of singletons out there would love to find someone to look at them the way…the Irish soccer media looks at Stephen Kenny!

Flash a yellow card at me for curmudgeonly begrudgery if you must, but I really am amused at how smitten the media is with the new Republic of Ireland manager.

I welcome his appointment, and am as hopeful as every other fan that Kenny’s much-heralded commitment to passing/attacking football will indeed lead to success (with some much-needed entertainment along the way).

Only time will tell if Kenny leads a great revolution, or if his term in charge proves to be underwhelming. What is intriguing is how the Irish media idolises him; I know it’s early days (Kenny’s only been in charge for five games) but it is already clear that he is in for a much softer ride than predecessors Staunton, Kerr, Trappatoni, O’Neill and McCarthy.

The Irish media have put their cards on the table on this one; they have proclaimed Kenny to be the saviour, even as those of us who are (admittedly) less informed, wait to parse his gospel.

In The Sunday Independent, my former colleague Eamonn Sweeney still appears to be torn between Mick McCarthy bashing and Stephen Kenny lionising.

Eamonn’s obsession with the ‘Changing of the Guard’ reached bizarre levels last weekend when, commenting on the Euro 2020 campaign, he wrote: “…McCarthy was allowed to waste two years. Had Stephen Kenny been working with this team for those two years, we’d have qualified”.

With media cheerleaders now giving Kenny credit for (non-existent) achievements that might have been, the likeable new manager can sleep well! Eamonn might do well to note that Stephen Kenny did have a chance to get Ireland to the Euros – but that chance was spurned with last week’s play-off defeat to Slovakia.

The new manager has been extremely unlucky over the past week or so, with Covid-related landmines everywhere he turns. His term as manager may be a great success, and I hope it is. He’s a nice guy and a promising manager. He should not be definitively judged for at least eighteen months. Ireland are playing a passing game under Kenny, and that’s a welcome shift in approach. But the tastiest pass of all – the free pass from the Irish media – is fascinating.

Do I get a red card for begrudgery if I close off with this observation? Including Wednesday night’s (latest) defeat (v Finland), Ireland have played five games under Kenny so far. We didn’t win any of them. We scored a grand total of one goal (yep, from a set-piece).

Ah, I can’t sign off on a negative. Of course I wish Kenny well, and his ‘revolution’ will take time. My point is that the media is going to be very soft on him, relative to its approach with others. Mick McCarthy, for all his quirks, did well as Ireland manager. After all, we are not Argentina or Brazil in disguise.


Last weekend…


I’m not the greatest fan of the Late Late (as regular readers may know) but I thought Kathleen Watkins was eloquent and dignified when she guested on the show on Friday night.

Kathleen, whose late husband Gay made the show the phenomenon it became, spoke very movingly.

Also over the weekend, I was filled with renewed admiration for the modest, unassuming Catherine Corless, the wonderful lady who uncovered the Tuam Babies scandal. She was a fascinating guest on The Meaning of Life.




Unplugging the TVs wasn’t enough…just to be on the safe side, I also draped sheets over the screens. I turned off all social media, pulled the curtains, and left every room in darkness.

Sitting in front of the silenced TV with a nice cup of tea, I was still nervous, such was the enormity of what was about to happen, of the terror that might unfold.

I knew the next hour would be crucial. Time moved slowly. At one stage, I dozed off, only to wake up in the middle of a nightmare, in which I was trapped in a room with a self-obsessed panto queen and a hyperactive parrot.

Awake again, I tentatively turned the TV back on, and dared to look. Sheer relief. It was over. I had avoided ‘Lodging with Lucy’ featuring Twink and her parrot. I could breathe easily again…and look forward to a peaceful night’s sleep (hopefully).




Driving from Rooskey towards Lanesboro…and, torn between being a news junkie and a cynic, I give in and turn the radio on to hear some of the breaking Budget reaction. Unlike the embattled Justice Seamus Woulfe, I am (just about) in ‘Listening to current affairs while driving’ mode.

I decide to flick through the national stations. It’s just after 3 pm. On Newstalk, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin is gamely trying to convince Shane Coleman that many of the millions of euro announced for projects were in fact previously committed. He’s a highly competent TD, but the inevitable shaping of ‘Budget positions’ along party political lines is tiresome.

I switch to RTE Radio 1, where Róisín Shortall (Social Democrats) is also predictably scrambling to find flaws midst the flurry.

It’s clear that reaction to the Budget will – as ever – be along fairly predictable lines, with Government politicians hailing it and Opposition TDs shaking their heads and lamenting missed opportunities.

I wonder if Today FM is waiting until Matt Cooper comes on at 4.30, or if they have a good Budget row going…better still, they may be sticking to their diet of afternoon music. I switch…and hear the following lyrics of a popular song: ‘So wake me up when it’s all over/When I’m wiser and I’m older’.

Indeed! Meanwhile, not too far from Cloontuskert, two ladies chatting in a garden are going to great lengths to make sure they maintain social distancing. Clearly neighbours, they’ve having a great chat. Whether it’s about Justice Woulfe, the Budget, Covid or the price of turnips is anyone’s guess.