I always considered Paddy Moloney, who died recently, to be a really great Irish man. Co-founder and ‘front man’ of the legendary musical group the Chieftains, he was a gifted musician, a charismatic and instantly likeable force of nature, and a wonderful ambassador for our country on the world stage. The world is poorer for the passing of this remarkable man.
When I arrived at the beautiful Athlone Springs Hotel on Friday evening, the carpark was almost full, the bar was buzzing, and it was clear that the hotel was busy. I’m sure many of the overnight guests and people attending events or passing through would have been intrigued if they knew that a small but highly distinguished grouping of GAA royalty was gathered only a few metres from the social hub of the hotel.
It was quite a privilege to be in their company. They had gathered for the launch of a book on GAA legends, compiled by Ballymurray native and long-time contributor the Roscommon People, Tom Curley.
One of the first people I met was Dr. Con Murphy, legendary Cork GAA figure. To his right was Trevor Giles, who won two senior All-Ireland football medals with Meath. His fellow county man, Martin O’Connell – who won three – was also present.
There were legends everywhere. Sitting in front of me was Sligo hero Mickey Kearins, accompanied by his wife, Frances. They were sharing a table with Roscommon’s Seamus Hayden (winner of multiple honours in his playing career) and his wife, Phil.
Sean Lowry, a member of the Offaly team that won the famous 1982 All-Ireland final – uniquely, he also won a Connacht title with Mayo – was present, as was Mick Curley, former Galway star and a leading referee in his day.
The presence of Kieran Duff, four-time Leinster title winner, inevitably brought one’s thoughts back to that unforgettable day in 1983 when Dublin’s ’12 Apostles’ – less fondly labelled ‘The Dirty Dozen’ – sensationally won the Sam Maguire Cup, despite having had three men sent off in a battle with Galway (who were reduced to 14 players). Duff was one of the Dublin men granted an early bath that day.
Ray Carolan (Cavan) and Manus Boyle (Donegal) were also there, as were a number of other well-known and revered GAA figures.
It was a lovely occasion. Unfortunately I had to leave after a couple of hours, but just to meet a few of these legends of the game was an honour. The reason they were there is because they are amongst a host of GAA stars who feature in Tom Curley’s book, a beautiful publication which I highly recommend (see more on page 22).
* ‘Our Field of Dreams – Legendary Gaelic Footballers – Their Stories’ includes contributions by Roscommon’s Seamus Hayden, Tony Whyte, Gay Sheerin and Tony ‘Horse’ Regan.
It was a little bit like old times in Rooskey at the weekend, when I had occasion to actually visit a pub (two in fact) now that restrictions have been largely lifted and we are moving towards whatever version of normality you wish to call it!
Last time I was in Cox’s was last October (or thereabouts). On that occasion the place was into its seventh month of being closed. It was in darkness. I chatted to well-known proprietor Tommy for the Roscommon People and for an online report we were doing at the time on the plight of the pubs. Even by then – last October – the stress of the ongoing lockdown was getting to publicans.
It was great therefore to meet Tommy and his wife Teresa on Sunday night. The famous bar was buzzing again.
We also called into Reynolds’ pub (run by Peter, Marian and family) across the bridge and it too was absolutely flying, with a Halloween Party in full swing. It was great to see so many young people out and about, and in such a positive and friendly atmosphere. No doubt I’ll get to the other two pubs in Rooskey at some stage!
I am always amused at how managers and players in GAA and soccer (and probably other sports) talk up the opposition before games – seemingly terrified of admitting that their own team might actually win!
Someone like Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be taking his team of superstar multimillionaires to a struggling club, where, more often than not, there will be blue-tinted carnage by the time the 90 minutes are up.
That won’t stop Pep (and he’s no different to other managers) assuring the media before the game that Norwich/Burnley/whoever it is will “pose problems from set pieces” – (or some such weak attempt to avoid talking up his own team).
I see they’re at it again locally this week, with Clann and Pearses pretty desperate to avoid any impression that they might be favourites to win Sunday’s County Senior Football Final!
The ladies of Kilbride and Clann aren’t bucking the long established trend either, they too talking up the opposition for fear that any hostage to fortune might be given in the pre-match build-up.
This is of course all very understandable, but it can be tedious too. I’m not suggesting that GAA and soccer teams should start trash talking the opposition, although it would certainly be more entertaining. (“We’re gonna whup Clann!” or “When we’re finished with Pearses, they won’t know what hit them!”).
I guess it’s not going to happen. Just once it would be nice to see a manager on TV saying something like “The match? Oh yeah, sure we’re playing great. Of course we expect to win!”