‘Super-pitches’ are the way forward  to avoid sporting postponements

Our man Frank on sporting venues that can withstand bad weather; A controversial newspaper interview; Young children and mobile phones…and an eggs-centric lotto winner in China

It’s Monday morning as I write, and yet again the country is in the middle of a weather alert! We have both yellow and orange alerts, depending on where you are in the country. Either way, the bottom line is that we are facing another 24 hours of high winds and heavy rain.

Funnily enough, Carol and I have just come back from our daily walk and we never saw a drop of rain at all. However, I can confirm that when I let our little house dog ‘Hope’ out to do her toiletries at 4.30 am, the rain was pelting down so much that she was very reluctant to go out at all.

While I was on my lovely, pleasant, dry walk, my mind was on the poor groundspeople who are trying to keep pitches all around the country in a playable state, and – as happened to the supporters and players of St Dominic’s and Aughnasheelin GAA clubs this week – sometimes failing, despite their best efforts.

Having first gone to Carrick-on-Shannon only to arrive at an unplayable pitch, the two clubs were then sent to Cloone, where after some lengthy deliberations, that pitch was also declared unfit. And so the players and followers were sent home.

Obviously it was no one’s fault, but I’m sure the good people from Knockcroghery and the outlying areas were none too happy at such a long, fruitless journey. And as I thought about all the clubs in the country who are struggling with the constant rain and the resultant pressure on their pitches, two things came to mind.

The first was the fact that Croke Park has its own turf farm, where they actually grow their own surface. They literally replace their entire playing area with their own home-grown turf whenever they have a big game coming up. Apparently they bought a farm on the north side of Dublin some years ago, and now the 75 acres are used to keep the Croke Park pitch in pristine condition. They can harvest the turf, put it in rolls, transport it to Croke Park and have a completely new pitch laid in less three hours after harvesting it out in the Naul.

The second thing that crossed my mind was the fact that out here in Creggs, the rugby club had the foresight a couple of years ago to install a 4G pitch, which is constantly playable and has now become the most used ground in the province. The 4G pitch needs a fair bit of maintenance to ensure it’s always playable, regardless of weather conditions, but as the years go by and our climate gets milder but wetter, its value to the club is increasing all the time.

St Dominic’s and Aughnasheelin are no doubt hoping we have a fine week, and that their game will go ahead this weekend, but they are still at the mercy of the weather. What a blessing it is for the people of Creggs and for those who play at Croke Park that, come hell or high water, those pitches will still be in perfect condition and every game can take place as scheduled.

On one day last year, Creggs played host to four schools rugby games, all because there was no other pitch playable in the province. I know those type of pitches are very expensive, but they are surely the only way forward.

Why did the ‘Sindo’ interview ‘Bronco’ Dunne?

Back in the 1970s and early ‘80s, the Dunne family from inner city Dublin were the undisputed crime lords of our country’s capital.

Larry Dunne, in particular, is ‘credited’ with the dubious honour of introducing heroin and other hard drugs to thousands of poor, unsuspecting Dubliners. He became a very wealthy man on the back of his drug dealing, but the law caught up with Dunne and he served ten years in prison before dying in May 2020.

His brother, Christy ‘Bronco’ Dunne, who was known as the Godfather of Crime, is now 85 years of age, and featured in a big interview on last Sunday’s Independent, where he gave out about his medical treatment and also protested his criminal innocence, despite serving ten years for a tiger kidnapping in 1992. He blamed everything on the Gardaí, claiming he had been set up – at no stage admitting to having any hand in any act of criminality.

For the life of me I do not understand why the Sunday Independent, a paper I actually like, would devote so much space to a man who, like it or not, is a member of a notorious crime family. No one denies that everyone is entitled to medical care (Christy Dunne included), but I guarantee there are thousands of ordinary, law-abiding older citizens out there who are not getting the medical treatments they need, and yet none of them will get a full-page spread on our best-selling Sunday paper.

Anyway, I do hope Christy gets the treatment he needs, but please don’t waste any more time interviewing him and listening to his claims that the Gardaí were responsible for all his misfortune. There must be more positive stories out there.

Mobile mayhem! Kids need to be outdoors more!

This week’s newspapers paint a very disturbing picture of the changes in the activity habits of our nine-year-old children.

Mobile phone ownership among nine-year-olds is up to 54% – not to mention other types of gadgets – and there is a resulting decline in the number of children taking part in either sporting or cultural activities. All of this leads to obesity and an increase in illnesses. It seems parents urgently need to limit their children’s time on their electronic devices.

The head of the HSE’s anti-obesity programme, Professor O’Shea, says a lack of exercise, overeating, and overuse of electronic devices can have a detrimental effect on a child’s health, and diabetes is becoming a very worrying trend in children.

My childhood was full of football, searching for birds’ nests, catching leebeens, etc. Outdoors was where everything happened, but nowadays it’s mostly indoors, and children are the worse for it. Hopefully the message will get through and our children will go back to more outdoor activities.

And finally…

My thoughts are with the family, whomever they are, of a man who won around the equivalent of €30 million in a recent Chinese Lottery.

He didn’t want his family to know he won the huge amount, for fear they “would become arrogant and complacent” – and so he turned up to collect his cheque dressed in a bright yellow costume with oversized eyes and a big head!

Observers think he was meant to be a chicken, and though his ‘fowl’ act might seem to be a little ‘eggs-centric’, he has already given €600,000 to charity. He is now taking time out to figure what to do with his big win – his family, however, needn’t apply!