Well, it is clear Leinster are the new kings of Europe. It emerged last weekend when they had a win in the European Championship final in Bilbao against Racing 92.
It was not a fairytale game, far from it. All of the media commentators, both in print and on radio and TV, called it an ugly game. Be that as it may, Leinster emerged the winners.
They did not play their best and found it difficult to get a foothold in the game, but they followed through and eventually, in the last dying minutes of the game, scored the three points which made the final result 15 to 12. But for most of the game it was a dogged, dogged fight.
Both Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton had injuries and it has been declared that the former will not be available for next Saturday’s final between Munster and Leinster. It remains to be seen if Johnny Sexton will be fighting fit for that event.
I listened to it on the radio as it was not on any other channel except Sky Sports, which I have not got, and it made for awful listening. I kept thinking Leinster were going to be beaten but, as I say, they just skimmed it.
Looking at my RTE TV Guide, I see where TG4 will be showing the Munster versus Leinster final on Saturday next, so that will be something to look forward to and to appreciate.
That same day my youngest grandchild (and he is also my Godchild ) will have his First Holy Communion, but I will get back in home for the 3pm rugby start.
I hope Leinster carry it off again and, obviously in this corner of Ireland, most of the people to whom I have spoken are in favour of Leinster. Still, there are quite a few Munster supporters. It will be a good game, but I wonder if the injury toll will have its effect on Leinster.
Of course, last weekend also we had the beginning of the GAA Championships, and there was great viewing to be had. I watched on Sunday afternoon the Galway versus Mayo game. Again, a close tight game with some not very good football and stalemate into injury time, when Galway got the winning goal.
A combination of bad luck for Mayo was when they lost Diarmuid O’Connor to a straight red card and Tom Parsons to a bad injury. It all totted up, allowing Galway to get the winning goal. But, I still have great faith in the Mayo team, and I look forward to the progress in the weeks and months ahead.
I took great joy in seeing Kilkenny, the old champions, beat Dublin again in the final minutes of the game in the hurling. It made for great viewing.
Westmeath had a good win against Meath in round two in the Joe McDonagh Cup. The delayed O’Byrne final saw Meath trounce Westmeath, so good and bad results all round for Westmeath over last weekend.
The All Ireland Drama Festival has ended in Athlone and we will miss the heady combination of the cosmopolitan crowds thronging the streets of Athlone each day and night. Then the increasing speculation as to who would be the winners. This is the last year of the RTE sponsorship and it will be sorely missed in Athlone.
However, Esso, who were the early long-term sponsors of the All Ireland Drama Festival, will step into the breach again, so I am sure there will be no let-up in the crowds coming, the intense rivalry among the different groups and, above all, the sophisticated air which it all bestows upon Athlone.
There were lots of fringe events which added to the excitement of the whole 10 days. We had the miscellany event of which I spoke earlier and I was so glad to be part of that ensemble.
Then there was the final of the Primary Schools Debating Competition, also among the fringe festival events. It resulted in a win for St Mary’s National School against Mount Temple NS. Held in the surroundings of the debating chamber in the Athlone Civic Centre, it was a wonderful event and drew great crowds and great applause for all who arranged it and those who participated in it. A Bualadh Bos all round!
As I write this column for this week, I am readying myself to go to Tralee tomorrow to speak at the All Ireland Conference of Probus. Dick Spring and I are among the speakers and I am informed by telephone today that there will be more than 600 delegates. Tralee is a fine town and I am looking forward, very much, to my visit there.
The cervical cancer smear controversy drags on and of course it will do so because the whole mess up has meant that, bit by bit, the people who have been so misinformed are having their say and, in many sad cases, the woman has passed away and the widower is left with young children.
I am glad to see that the cabinet is going to reinstate a HSE board. A previous Minister, Dr James O’Reilly, in a great show of defiance, abolished that board and then did nothing about restoring credibility and accountability to the HSE.
So, Catalonia finally has a new regional President, Quim Torra, whose sentiments seem to coincide with those of Spain. So, let us hope that that is ushering in a period of stability for the fine region of Catalonia.
Have you been woken up by the birds at the eerily, early time of 4am to 5am in the morning? They are gone mad tweeting and singing and it is absolutely beautiful to listen to it. They must feel that spring and summer are coming and they are determined to exercise their voices and to make themselves heard!
That is my lot for this week.
Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,