Epic sports clashes and more political jostling - it is all in a week’s work

Now, I know that Mayo people are just about fed up with the constant rehashing of all that happened last Sunday, and if I go on and on about it I will only add to their woe. But just a few random thoughts that I thought I would share with you.

First of all, the expression “three in a row”, which was the mantra of everyone on TV and radio and all around the pitches and in all the commentaries leading up to last Sunday, just sets my teeth on edge! Why? I will tell you why. Why should Dublin be entitled to three in a row? Mayo, for heroism and work and longevity in the game and all of the other qualities, are entitled to a mantra as well, but somehow the commentators got lost in the whole idea of “three in a row”. It was everywhere as if it were preordanied. Every time I heard it and read it, as I said, it set my teeth on edge.

I liked Stephen Rochford’s comment “sport is a cruel game”. It is so true. Life is a cruel game also and that was shown in all its full glory last Sunday. I am convinced that Mayo were the better team but, somehow, Dublin carried it off.

You see, Mayo was the story, not Dublin. Mayo, for the last number of summer weeks, has been the story in GAA circles. Without their bravery, their stubborn refusal to lie down, and their determination we would have had no glorious mid-summer/autumn GAA term.

Yes, of course, Mayo will play again next year and yes, of course, they will have their loyal and fervent supporters, but I am mournful for what should have been. Not what could have been but what should have been.

I know that at 4pm next Sunday we will have Mayo versus Dublin again in the Ladies GAA, and hopefully Mayo will win that. But it will not compensate, and never could, for what has been. But, Mayo Abú again!

So, what are we to make of the numerous party “think-ins” which are being held of the past month? Having spent several years attending them, I can tell you that “think-in” is far from the agenda when the parties meet. It is an occasion of a good gossip shop. If you are in Government, there is constant plotting against this Minister or that Minister. If you are in opposition, there is equal plotting and gossiping. I never came away from any “think-in” with my brain enlightened or my steps full of bounce from what I had learned from it.

However, I did enjoy them. You meet colleagues you have not met for some weeks, and there was always something new to comment on. You learned things about people that you had never known before and, all in all, a very happy time of my life were those Party “think-ins”. But elucidation of the mind was not a feeling I came away with. Nevertheless, they are a fact of life and, in a way, they fulfil a particular function of bringing a party together again, getting them imbued with a sense of public service and what is unfolding before them. All in all, I can tell you readers, I would love to be back in the midst of it all! In the meantime, I can watch from the side-lines and make my own judgements.

On Sunday, September 24, we will have the German elections. Though Angela Merkel is the boss of Europe, so to speak, these elections have mostly passed us by. However, I have been following them in daily bulletins in a particular national newspaper. There is no doubt that she is on course to get a fourth term. That is, of course, excluding that there is some extraordinary turnabout, which I very much doubt.

And her Party, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union ), look like receiving between 38 per cent and 40 per cent of the vote. Her difficulty will be to choose a coalition partner. She has had the Social Democratic Party for some time, but they have dropped miserably in the polls. So, I would expect that at this time Angela Merkel is running her eye over the likely contenders to be her allies in the new Government.

They will be voting on a Sunday which, I always think, is a sensible day for elections. And their form of election means that we will know the result Sunday evening. So, I am looking forward to that.

Fiona Mitchell, who is the RTE correspondent in London, is having a really busy time of it, what with Brexit, the recent terror attempt on the Tube in London, the Party Conventions coming up shortly now in England, and all of the goings on in connection with all these events. Fiona is nightly on the radio and TV and she is entirely calm, composed and conscientious. We all know her well in Athlone as when she was a journalist she was based here. Every time I see her now I think “good for you Fiona” - you have done really well in your journalistic career and you are a credit to your earlier career and to your profession.

Now, I am going to end with an almighty gripe! And it is surely well deserved. It is because of the recent rudeness of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, when in an after dinner speech to the party faithful at his “think-in”, he indulged in outright rudeness to the vice-president of his party, Simon Coveny, and to the previous Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Now, many of you will tell me he was just being “cool”, but I don’t think it is cool to gratuitously insult people, particularly party colleagues. John Concannon, who has joined him from Creative Ireland to be part of his new communications unit, was not responsible for this lamentable lapse by Leo.

I was told by a parliamentary party member who was at the Fine Gael “think-in” that the speech went down very badly, with dozens not clapping at the end because of what they perceived as needless slights, particularly directed at the last Taoiseach.

That is all for now.

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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