Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

24 hours on from Aoife O’Rourke’s Olympic debut, there’s time now for some reflection. It’s been a whirlwind. After all the excitement of the build-up, her Olympic experience was ultimately short-lived…just the one bout, and that in an early morning slot, Irish-time. But two things are clear: Aoife was unlucky to draw the second seed (a former world champion); secondly, Aoife fought bravely and skilfully, a tremendous effort on her part.

Two of the five judges gave the first round to O’Rourke; the fact that her opponent, Qian Li, was judged to have won the round (however narrowly) was significant for the more experienced boxer. Winning round one in a three-round bout is a big boost, and puts all the pressure on one’s opponent.

Trailing after that opener, Aoife remained extremely focussed, relying on her game plan, but the Chinese boxer engaged in some frustrating holding, a tactic which was indulged by the referee.

Quin Li was deemed to be the winner, but Aoife O’Rourke had performed extremely well. Seconds after the final bell, the RTE panel members were confidently predicting that Aoife will be a force at Paris 2024. I share their confidence.

Here at the Roscommon People, it’s been a pleasure to observe Aoife’s journey over the last couple of years. We’ve greatly enjoyed following and supporting this terrific sportsperson. Aoife’s qualification for Tokyo was a timely good news story, a welcome morale boost in a time of some despair. From a journalistic point of view, it’s been great to have a positive story to cover. As an aside, thank you to the thousands of Roscommon People readers who’ve viewed our special video celebrating Aoife’s rise (see our YouTube channel).

In conclusion, two things stand out for me: (1) Aoife is a very talented and dedicated sportsperson with a very exciting future; (2) Aoife is a lovely person and an inspirational role model for young people, both locally and nationally.

A highlight of Aoife’s Olympic Games debut was that moment when she broke into a joyous smile as she walked towards the ring. There was something about that image which seemed to capture the true spirit of the Olympics. That smile defined the enormity of Aoife’s achievement.

A week on, we say well done to Aoife O’Rourke. You did Castlerea, Roscommon and Ireland proud.

 

Friday

I’m in danger of hearing Liveline too often…please can I be spared from such a fate?

Exposure-wise, this week probably was an exception. We had to collect our son from the GAA summer camp at Hyde Park each day at 2 pm, which meant a full helping of mischievous Joe and his ever-changing cast of callers.

It was the usual endearingly chaotic mix: some legitimate serious content, some aimless arguing between angry callers (with Joe on hand to expertly stoke as required), and further assorted segments ranging from mundane to marvellous.

Today, I enjoyed the Liveline tribute to the brilliant June Rodgers (celebrating 30 years in showbiz). A very funny lady, June is a wonderfully versatile entertainer in the tradition of fellow Dublin-born performers like Maureen Potter and Brendan Grace.

June was in studio with Joe; the tribute show also featured guest appearances from fellow performers, calls from fans, and audio of highlights of her career to date. A gifted and very hard-working performer, June came across as a lovely person. She is, I would suggest, a national treasure.

 

Saturday

Roscommon minors were losing the Connacht semi-final by five points when I parked the car in town, Willie (on Shannonside) sounding a touch worried.

While I went about my business in town, Roscommon apparently went eleven behind. By the time I got back to the car, the comeback was underway. With fifteen minutes to go, and Willie’s voice rising proportionate to the excitement unfolding on the pitch, I sensed that something special might be on.

It was quite the finale. A Robert Heneghan goal and a succession of points from Bobby Nugent & Co. had Galway on the run.

Willie, with no co-commentator on this occasion, had to carry the weight and emotion of the evening himself, and that he did well. There were more than a few references to the Olympics, while our old friend Lazarus (happily) was also invoked, Roscommon coming from eleven points behind to claim a remarkable victory. Mighty stuff. (For an actual eyewitness account of The Storming of Tuam, see Seamus Duke’s report in our sports section).

 

Sunday

 

‘More GAA than you can handle’ screams the slogan in the Sunday Independent. It’s meant in a positive way, a promotion highlighting the top writers in the Independent ‘stable’.

But I’ve just had more GAA than I can handle, after a Leinster Football Final that plodded from mildly interesting to tediously pedestrian.

I’m not blaming the Sunday Independent, of course. In fact my only quibble with the Sindo today is that they gave no forewarning of an interview with the publicity-obsessed actor Rory Cowan. Once I’d turned the page, it was too late. Worse still, he talks about the equally media-shy Twink. At least the interview wasn’t conducted by Sinead O’Connor.

 

Monday

Persistent, ugly rain means this morning can be filed under ‘Horrible’. I seldom agree with combative People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, but maybe he’s right in calling for three more annual bank holidays. Maybe when we get a stinker like today, we should be granted a new one in lieu of the one that let us down.

Mind you, it’s 3 o’clock now as a write, and the rain has given way to pleasant conditions. It’s a quiet enough day on the news front. The Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, Co. Laois will go ahead later this year, the organisers say. But Laois Fianna Fáil councillor Paschal McEvoy (who presumably doesn’t have an eye on the youth vote) is plucky enough to say it shouldn’t happen.

Meanwhile, on thejournal.ie, I read that Dublin manager Dessie Farrell has addressed concerns about the county senior football team’s possible decline (they won an 11th Leinster senior title in a row on Sunday). He acknowledged that the ‘Declining Dubs’ are undergoing ‘a period of transition’.

There are unconfirmed reports that Dessie actually managed to keep a straight face during the questioning by journalists…

 

Tuesday

The so-called scam artists really are trying everything these days.

The suspicious phone calls and the bizarre, laughable emails are now a tiresome part of everyday life.

We’re all familiar with them by now (at least I hope all readers are).

At least an email that I received this week amused me a little. Accordingly, my ‘Scam Artist of the Week’ award goes to someone passing themselves off as a ‘man of the cloth’.

The email, from a person describing themselves as a (named) Canon, read:

‘Do you have a moment…I have a request I need you to handle discreetly. I am currently busy in a prayer session, no calls so just reply to my email’.

Is this a scam artist who also likes to worship and pray, or is it a Christian worshipper who also likes to engage in scams? Or just a scam artist with no current notable religious disposition?

Anyways, I’m not impressed by someone emailing during a ‘prayer session’ while claiming to be busy!

In this instance at least, their prayers haven’t been answered…