Let’s look at the sports. Last Saturday we had Galway versus Dublin in the football semi-final and of course, Dublin won.
The very next thing to note is that the crowd was well down for a football semi-final. Why? Because we know that any team that goes to play Dublin is going to be beaten.
Why would people take the trouble of going by train or car, bringing children or whatever, to see Dublin once again triumphant over whatever team dared to confront them?
I do not know what the GAA are going to do about this. Of course it comes about because Dublin city and county GAA have a huge number of footballers right now and more coming up due to the large number of people who are living in Dublin city and county.
Many of them are from rural Ireland and bring with them as they go to work in Dublin their inherent GAA skills. So to my mind that is why, at the top level, football will lose its allure because every team knows that the inevitable side they will face at the end will be Dublin, and that Dublin will be the victors.
Down the line the round-robin aspect of the competition to get to the top has had some success. For instance, last Sunday we had a terrific game, Monaghan versus Tyrone.
Before the game began I thought Tyrone would win and they did. They looked tougher, played tougher and as was inevitable, Monaghan appeared disorganised on the pitch.
Malachy O’Rourke, the trainer for Monaghan, was of course very downcast when his team lost by one point.
I often think a one point loss is such a disappointment in any national game, because of course viewers and commentators will keep going back over the match and wondering where the one point could have been fought for better, or retrieved better, or scored better, or whatever.
Now Tyrone will face Dublin on the first Sunday in September. Perhaps they’ll give Dublin a tight game, I don’t know, but I would have no great faith in it.
As I told the readers last week we were at Kilbeggan Races in the afternoon, but managed to see quite a bit of the Galway versus Dublin match.
On the way home through Athlone there was a long string of Galway cars still defiantly flying the flag, and I suppose hoping for good news next Sunday when the Sunday Game will be between Limerick and Galway in the hurling final. It should be a really good game, a really tight one, and I am so looking forward to it.
I don’t know whether it was by chance or by intention but for the last three Monday nights we’ve had wonderful TV programme on RTÉ1 about hurling, and on Monday night quite a bit of camogie as well mixed up in it.
The show was called The Game and there is no doubt that for skill, tenacity and toughness, hurling is the tops.
I myself would love to see Galway win next Sunday but I’m told that Limerick have a fine, young, hungry team, mad to get to Croke Park and equally mad to win. So it will be, as I said, a very good game to watch.
Then we had our European medal winners, Rhys McClenaghan for gymnastics and Thomas Barr for hurdles. So it was good to see both of them coming back in the last few days proudly wearing their medals.
Shane Ross, the Sports Minister, gave out the extra allocation to the various sports bodies, to enable them to compete and advance their training for the Tokyo Games in two years’ time.
The Leaving Cert results are out this Wednesday, August 15. This column will be gone to print on Wednesday before the full extent of the results are known, so I hope to talk about it in more detail next week.
However, I strongly want to say that no matter what the results, the young people should be happy and satisfied that they have stayed the course, that they have completed their Leaving Certificate and that they will have in their hands a recognised qualification which will carry them anywhere in the world, as our Leaving Certificate is strongly recognised internationally.
So I would have one strong word of advice before I get into further stuff next week, and that is: DO NOT PANIC. Your choice may come up, well and good, your first or second choice may not come up, fair enough; but you first of all must realise that you have a full week, a full seven days, before you get your CAO offer next week.
Oftentimes it seems to me that young people make hasty choices at this point of the Leaving Cert results. Often they feel disgruntled if they have not got what they think they should have got in marks.
After all there is always the option of each paper being corrected again and you should put into your school for that immediately. There is clear evidence and facts from each year that some papers on a re-check get a change which can be a score or two up, and then your whole life is changed again. Also CAO and university life and third level college life are not the be all and end all or the Holy Grail for every student.
There is so much else going on in life through the whole apprenticeship system, post Leaving Certificate colleges, and various other options which a young person can take.
So I repeat again my main advice this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to young people and their parents: Do not panic. Explore all the options, think a lot and consult a lot. Remember it is your future, not your past, on which you must now concentrate.
That is my lot for this week. We’ll talk again next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.