Small clubs, big hearts – and why it’s great to live out in the country!

Sometimes, when you live – as they say – out in the sticks, it can be easy to go along with popular opinion and give out about everything that has happened to rural Ireland over the last few years, but when we do that, we lose sight of the many things that make living in this country so special.

  For the last three Sundays, I have had the pleasure of attending four games – two rugby and two football – in my native village, which, in case you don’t know, is Creggs, and in a lot of ways those games sum up a lot that is right about local communities.

  For people outside our village, it has long been popular to say that having two clubs – rugby and football – in a small area is divisive, and that the clubs can not and do not pull together. Nothing could be further from the truth and quite a number of our lads are more than delighted to wear the colours of both clubs, which, funny enough, are the maroon and white of Galway.

  On Sunday last, 24th of April, our footballers hosted the players and mentors of another small, rural community, St. Michael’s, from Cootehall country, and it was as I sat in the car at the end of the match that I realised the effort it takes to keep a small club alive.

  I had a visitor to our area in the car with me and as we waited for the lads (my two were playing), to come out from the dressing rooms, she asked me a very simple question: How far would the lads from Michael’s have had to come to line out for their club in Creggs at 12.30 on a Sunday?

  I had to think for a moment, as it’s some time since the two clubs crossed swords, and as I was thinking of my answer, I noticed a Michael’s club member, a man of middle age, come to the boot of his car, put in a load of footballs and training cones and bibs and carry on about his business (by the way the answer is at least an hour). I wondered do our clubs really appreciate the men and women, who can no longer play, but who do the dirty jobs and, come hail, rain or snow, will be at the next game and make sure the jerseys, balls, cones and bibs are all in place to help the players be the best they can be?

  As it happened, our lads played very well and won the game, but for me the great thing was to see nearly forty lads make the effort to be there to represent their local communities and give their areas something to be proud of.

  In the history of Creggs GAA we had some wonderful players to talk about and among the many great men, the names of Mick Roarke, Noel Hanley and Sean ‘Bags’ Keegan would be right up there with the very best of them. Two of those men are now in their 80s and one has made big inroads into the 90s, and yet on Sunday all three were there on the sidelines, to give encouragement (and an odd time something else) to the players that now have the honour of keeping our club going until the next generation comes along.

  It is many years ago since I was told that a club jersey never belongs to you – you only have the loan of it. So for me, when I went to see a club match on a Sunday morning, somewhere along the line, it made me realise that no matter what they tell us, it’s great to live out in the country.

            So if your club, be it soccer, rugby, hurling, football or tiddlywinks, is playing next week, get out there and support them and, if someone asks you, get involved and give a hand. It’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Is the law crazy?

April 14th was my birthday, as it was for a number of local people, including Glinsk’s James Scott and Athleague’s Anne Hughes, but in 2002, April 14th signalled the end of the lives of two of our Gardai, Garda Anthony Tighe and Garda Michael Padden, when a stolen Mazda car, driven by Raymond Dowdall (aged 16 at the time) smashed into their Garda car, killing both members of the Garda Siochana.

  This week, the same Raymond Dowdall appeared in court again for getting caught driving without either a licence or insurance, and as he had got a driving ban until 2030, after the 2002 incident, there could be no mitigating circumstances regarding him not knowing that his licence had expired or that he had no insurance.

  However, he walked out of court with a five-month suspended sentence, which it now transpires is the same as a full free pardon. There can be no doubt that the R.S.A. (Road Safety Authority) has made great strides in making drivers more aware of their responsibilities – and yet the law can sometimes seem to be a little crazy.

  A friend of mine recently got three points on his licence for driving a car that didn’t have an N.C.T. Cert. He is a bit disappointed because the car was in perfect nick and flew through the test. His point is that you get three points on your licence, whether the car is roadworthy or not, even if you genuinely overlooked getting it tested, and he feels that is unfair and that there should be some leeway whereby a driver would get a few days to pass the N.C.T.

  I know you might say that those few days would enable the driver to fix the vehicle up, but if the car was very bad it would take more than a few days to fix it anyway and either way, it would mean that cars would be roadworthy when they were back on the road.

Quiz-time in Creggs

On Friday night next, the Creggs Tidy Town Committee, who are doing an amazing job, are holding a Table Quiz to raise much-needed funds. It’s in Mikeen’s and all will kick off at 10 pm.

  The sad news for me is that I will be away on my annual holidays and won’t be there to ask the questions. The good news is that Tom Connolly, a man of many parts, is ready, willing and more than able to stand in – and with him at the helm, you are guaranteed a great night’s craic!

  As I said, the committee are really doing great work around the village and its surrounds, so make a date in your diary for Friday night, get to Mikeen’s, put your hand in your pockets and give the hard-working committee a big fundraising boost. They need and deserve it.

Till next week, bye for now