Paul Healy’s Week


It’s the small things…

The small things that annoy us (an occasional series): Once upon a time, an entrepreneurial-type person entered a room of leading executives – think Dragons’ Den without the cameras – and confidently showcased ‘their’ disposable plastic refuse/waste bags, ideal for squeezing into householders’ compact bins.

Then, unashamedly looking everyone in the eye, they added: “And they’re so easy to open! You just peel them…”

That person should have been shown the door…


 When in Rome…

By Saturday afternoon, this year’s Ryder Cup – golf’s highly-charged biennial showdown between the USA and Europe – was at risk of entering the history books under ‘anticlimax’.

On Friday, Europe made a remarkable start against slight favourites (and holders) USA, going 4-0 ahead in the much-anticipated Rome showdown.

I tuned in on Saturday, officially cheering for Europe, but kind of hoping the USA would stage a comeback, so that the usual thrilling Sunday afternoon finale would materialise.

Then it all went a bit bizarre. With Europe well ahead at the close of Saturday’s play, Sky Sports switched to a tedious press conference with Team USA. If all golf press conferences are like this, I pity the journalists covering them.

The Americans, while at all times civil, were tiresomely monotone in their responses. I expect they were on edge (and frustrated with the scoreline). Apparently there had been reports earlier in the day that one of their stars, Patrick Cantlay, was refusing to wear the team hat in protest over the fact that players don’t get paid for playing in the Ryder Cup, a position he allegedly disapproves of.

Asked about the unfolding HatGate, a fairly good-humoured Cantlay endeavoured to bat the questions away (“It didn’t fit”). As fellow American superstars looked on, the journalists insisted on trying to expose the USA’s alleged dirty linen. As the press conference descended into a slightly farcical series of questions about hats, I was hoping one of the reporters would ask Cantlay if he had considered changing his name from Patrick to hat-trick.

Meanwhile, it was all kicking off in the carpark, where Rory McIllroy literally had to be held back by Shane Lowry after the Northern Irishman launched a furious tirade against the behaviour of Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava.


Pat & Brendan

I’ve probably never been a contender for the ‘Pat Shortt’s biggest fan’ award (and appreciate he wouldn’t lose any sleep over that). But I must say his interview with Brendan O’Connor on RTE Radio 1 today was a tonic.

Actor/comedian/musician Shortt spoke at some length about his love of music, including jazz and assorted other genres. His passion for the various genres was infectious. This was a joyful, uplifting interview with the versatile performer.


Sporting afternoon

Like the – well, the lads – in the classic old sitcom, The Likely Lads, I was determined to avoid a score on Sunday. Not football in this instance. Before heading to an U-14 GAA final, I recorded the Ryder Cup, in the hope of avoiding updates on the golf while at the match.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? was a 1970s’ follow-up to the 1960s’ The Likely Lads. In an episode in 1973 – an era long before both the Internet and mobile phones – Bob and Terry (played brilliantly by Rodney Bewes and James Bolam) spend a tortuous day desperately trying to avoid the result of an England match, as they intended to catch the highlights later. I digress.

Our destination today was Creggs, where Roscommon Gaels and Padraig Pearses met in a County U-14 final. It was an excellent game, a credit to both teams. We were there to support our son and his teammates, and happily for us, the result went the Gaels’ way. Pearses put the Gaels under a lot of pressure in the final quarter, but the town club scored two late goals to seal a great win. Congratulations to the entire squad and management!

Midst all the celebrations, nobody mentioned how the Ryder Cup was progressing, so I got my wish on that front. As for how the Likely Lads fared, if you want some 1970s’ nostalgia – and a few laughs – you can check out that classic episode (‘No Hiding Place’) on YouTube.

*Europe were very impressive in holding off a strong USA comeback before finally winning the Ryder Cup.




VAR offside?

There is no truth in the rumour that VAR – football’s currently greatly embattled video assistant referee system – actually stands for Very Average Refereeing. Not true.




Farewell to Aertel…

The real ‘news angle’ from all the talk this week about RTE’s soon-to-be-stood-down Aertel service relates to the sudden realisation for many of us that the teletext resource is actually still available.

I genuinely thought the now quaint Aertel service had been put out to pasture a decade or more ago. Seemingly not.

In fact, the service has continued, unknown to most of us, but still appreciated by many. When it was announced this week that Aertel is to cease on October 12th – after almost 40 years – there was quite the outcry.

Naturally, Liveline wasn’t found wanting at this time of national crisis, devoting most of today’s show to the imminent demise of Aertel.

I have two particular fond memories of it. One is of me scrolling through its pages to get football scores; the other is of (often) arriving back to my parents’ house in Rooskey to see my now late father checking horse racing news on Aertel. It was easy for me to identify with the heartbreak of an elderly racing fan on Liveline today when he spoke of how devastated he is at news of the cessation of this service.

“Get a smartphone they say” the man lamented to stand-in host Katie Hannon, “but I don’t want a smartphone, and wouldn’t know how to use one!”

My late father would never have been able to access the racing results on a mobile phone either. Aertel, with its great menu of wonders – including travel news, sport, weather, business, entertainment, lotto numbers, and actual news – served generations of people very well for many years.