Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday-Friday

 

I tweeted on Tuesday (of last week) that Boris Johnson would be gone before Friday. Realistically, a political leader is surely doomed when confronted with the clearly orchestrated (despite denials) resignation of two leading government ministers. That presumed outcome didn’t stop Boris launching a typically defiant fightback, leading to extraordinary and chaotic scenes in Westminster over two days.

It certainly made for gripping TV, with up to 60 ministers, aides and various other public servants resigning over a 48-hour period. The only thing more extraordinary than the collapse of the ‘House of cards’ was the Prime Minister’s stubborn refusal to quit, even as his government imploded.

By Thursday morning, Boris had finally read the writing on the wall. It read: ‘Game up’. I dislike the simplistic dismissal of him as a buffoon. Contrary to that stereotype, he is an intelligent person. However, the charisma he is often credited with having began to wear off after an initial honeymoon period as PM. It’s a serious job, and it requires a person with gravitas, discipline and good judgement. His tenure as Prime Minister was greatly tarnished and undermined by his dishonesty and untrustworthiness.

He had his good qualities, but ultimately the sense persists that he was not fit to be Prime Minister. Johnson may have advanced Brexit to wherever it is now – it ensures his place in the history books – but he has left the Conservative Party in a mess, and more importantly he has damaged the UK’s reputation on the international stage.

 

Saturday

 

Writing about Mikey Sheehy’s brilliantly instinctive chip into an empty net in the 1978 All-Ireland Football final, the great columnist Con Houlihan famously wrote of the man being lobbed – out-of-position Dublin goalkeeper Paddy Cullen: “Paddy dashed back towards his goal like a woman who smells a cake burning”, Con then adding: “The ball won the race and it curled inside the near post as Paddy crashed into the outside of the net and lay against it like a fireman who returned to find his own station ablaze”.

Today, roaming Derry goalkeeper Odhrán Lynch knew the entire house was already burnt to the ground when he helplessly watched from midfield as Galway turned possession over and Damien Comer brilliantly guided the ball into an empty net for a score that definitively decided the outcome of the All-Ireland semi-final.

What a player Comer is. Well done to our neighbours Galway on a great achievement in qualifying for the All-Ireland final.

 

Sunday

 

Front page headline in this morning’s Sunday Independent: ‘Meet Louis Walsh’s brand new boyband’. Do we have to? Is it compulsory?

 

Sunday

 

We watched the closing stages of Dublin v Kerry in the Crover House Hotel, which is a stunning venue overlooking fabulous Lough Sheelin in County Cavan. Attending a family function there, we managed to see the last 20 minutes or so of a tremendous battle between the aristocrats of Gaelic football.

(Needless to say, the locals were disappointed with Cavan’s defeat to Westmeath in the previous day’s inaugural Tailteann Cup final).

Back to Dublin v Kerry: I had the foresight to record the game, and watched it in its entirety on Tuesday night. In the Crover House Hotel, most of the patrons seemed to be cheering for Kerry. It was a marvellous contest, with a fantastic finale, the Munster champions prevailing by a point when extra-time seemed inevitable. Kerry will start the upcoming All-Ireland final as warm favourites – which will suit our Galway friends perfectly!

 

Monday

 

Those men or women who appear on current affairs or light entertainment radio shows to chat about the weekend sport – or maybe to preview an upcoming sports show – all appear to be blessed with patience. They know their sport, but the ‘anchor’ or host whose show they’re briefly contributing to is invariably working off a ‘man at bar counter’ level of knowledge (I spared taxi drivers there). I mean, let’s face it, like the great Gaybo before him, Ryan Tubridy is no sports’ expert!

Of course chatting about the ould sport is now deemed an essential part of ‘mainstream’ radio. Our friends on Morning Ireland, for example, have no notion of leaving the previous evening’s sporting drama to the sports’ shows/bulletins.

All of which brings me to the great Pat Kenny, who revealed his solution to Saturday’s Hawkeye controversy at Croke Park on his Newstalk show today. (The Hawkeye technology missed a clearcut point in the Derry-Galway All-Ireland football semi-final). When ‘sports guy’ came on air to review the weekend’s sporting action, Pat unveiled his plan.

The GAA, Pat said, should introduce a second crossbar. This new crossbar would be placed high above the existing crossbar, from upright to upright, the idea being that this would help with judging whether or not scoring attempts have been successful. (In fairness, it probably would). Warming to his theme, Pat suggested the GAA could go even further; create a box between the uprights – a ball or sliotar trap, effectively – which would provide evidence of a score, doing away with dodgy Hawkeye determinations, while presumably greatly minimising risk of neck injuries for stressed umpires. As Pat unveiled his masterplan, ‘sports round-up guy’ kept his counsel and waited for the moment to pass.

Pat Spillane is retiring from The Sunday Game. RTE will want a high profile replacement. Pat Kenny is never going to retire. GAA fans…be afraid, be very afraid!

 

Monday

 

The football team quantity of candidates to be next UK Conservative Party leader (and Prime Minister) were all extremely busy today, running and racing, minds in overdrive. But at one point this morning they all had a moment’s relief and a chance to breathe easier.

That came when a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that outgoing PM Boris Johnson will not be endorsing any of the candidates aiming to replace him. Cue sighs of relief all around…