Weekend GAA thrills may have tested my pacemaker!

Our man Frank on a thrilling weekend of GAA action; More on the plight of rural pubs; How to avoid being confronted by car thieves…and how the golden oldies still reign in the music world…

It’s Saturday afternoon and I find myself heading for the County Galway village of Clonberne where the more mature footballers, i.e. the Masters, of Galway and Roscommon are about to do battle in a championship clash. To take part in the Masters you need to be over 40 years of age and obviously still be fit enough to be able to participate.

This turned out to be a surprisingly feisty enough game of football. One or two lads on the Galway team looked young enough to have been on the minors but I am sure they were of the required age.

The only thing that seems to be different from the younger men’s version is that subs can come in and out as often as they want, and there seems to be no limit as to the numbers of subs that can be used. Other than that everything else was the same and I have to admit that I was surprised at the fitness of most of the players and the competitiveness of the exchanges.

On reflection, I should have expected nothing else as no matter what age the participants are the old inter-county rivalry is always there.

As it happened, our lad, Mark, was in the Roscommon line-up, and for the first time in my life I actually shouted for the Rossies. It didn’t do any good as the Galway lads won by a couple of points.

However, bad as my ‘who to support’ dilemma was, it didn’t compare to the situation faced by the woman from Williamstown who was sitting beside us.

Her son was playing centre half-back for Galway and her son-in-law was corner-back for Roscommon. She very wisely cheered both of them on. I followed suit by cheering my son on. I know it might seem a bit weird but ‘Come on Roscommon’ just didn’t sound right coming from me, but sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone!

Talking of comfort zones – and now wearing my Galway hat – just before leaving for Clonberne I watched the Galway minors almost lose their All-Ireland semi-final against Derry when they managed to concede six points in the last few minutes. Thankfully they were leading by seven and had a single point to spare when the ref blew the final whistle. By then my nerves were at breaking point, but that – as we all know by now – was nothing compared to what happened in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final at senior level against Armagh.

In my reasonably long life I have never seen any game that was as crazy as that one and once again the wearers of the maroon and white did their best to lose a game they seemed to have sewn up. The world of GAA knows by now that Galway got through to the semi-final on penalties. Now while it was great to win any way at all, it’s an awful way to lose a big game.

Anyway, thank God we made it through, but after those two dramatic football games I should nearly head to my cardiologist and get my pacemaker and my stents looked at just to make sure they are still in working order. I doubt if they were ever tested as much.


Counter-attack needed…to save more pubs!

After the trip to Clonberne (see main piece) we headed home for the dinner and later in the evening set sail for Oranmore where we were meeting a few family members for a pint or two in the lovely thatched bar called McDonagh’s.

For some reason on the journey up I started to think about the number of rural pubs that have closed over the last few years and the truth is that it really is very sad. Every village on the way – Creggs, Ballygar, Newbridge, Moylough, Derreen, Abbey, Turloughmore and Loughgeorge – has had at least one closure, and some of those villages have lost three or four of their locals. When you put all of those together it makes for very depressing reading.

Thankfully McDonagh’s was very much alive and well and our little group of nine or so had a very enjoyable evening there. Business was booming in the lovely pub and from what we could see the village itself seemed to be experiencing a very busy Saturday night.

I know it’s too late for so many rural pubs but hopefully people will soon start to socialise again and at least keep any more from closing down.


Is this the ‘key’ to dealing with car thieves?

Some weeks ago I told you about a lady called Geraldine Herbert who is a motoring correspondent – and specifically about her article on self-drive cars and trucks in America and how they will eventually take a large share of the motor market.

Now it seems that prediction may be put on ice for a while as the self-driving thing seems to have been slowed up a bit but in the meantime Geraldine has landed the plum job as motoring editor on the Sunday Independent.

On Sunday’s paper she had an in-depth look at the best new cars that are coming on the market over the next few months, although why I read it I have no idea as the chances of my being able to buy a new car are as remote as Mayo’s are of winning this year’s Sam Maguire.

Anyway, on Ireland AM this Monday morning there Geraldine was and she was rightfully very proud to let the world know that she is the first female motoring editor ever in Ireland. However, it was her advice to people whose cars are desirable enough to attract any of the thieving gangs that are all around the place, that caught my attention. I had always been led to believe that you should hide the keys to make it difficult for the robbers, but she said it is better to leave them where they are easily accessible. Her reasoning is that she would much prefer to have the car taken rather than find a masked man in her bedroom in the middle of the night. To be fair, she made a lot of sense.

As the proud owner of a 08 Passat, I don’t think I need to worry much about any thieves targeting it in the middle of the night, but if they do I am taking Geraldine’s advice and the keys will be on the kitchen table.

And finally…

As we know, Glastonbury is one of the biggest music festivals in the world and on Saturday night the biggest crowd to ever watch a headliner act – 120,000 people – were there to see 80-year-old Paul McCartney who turned back the years as he put on an almost three-hour set. He was joined on stage by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen, who between them are worth £1.5 billion. Apparently the performance was absolutely fantastic. Throw in the fact that Sunday’s headliner was 78-year-old ‘Supreme’, Diana Ross, and it goes to show that age is no barrier in showbusiness.

People like Neil Diamond, Tom Jones and our own Red Hurley are still sounding as well as ever and packing the crowds into their shows. Diana Ross also pulled in one of the biggest crowds ever seen at Glastonbury and as she is performing in the 3Arena in Dublin this Sunday coming, her many Irish fans will also get a chance to see her.

As a fully paid-up member of the Old Age Society, it is wonderful to see that so many of our age group are defying old Father Time and still performing at the top of their game.