The agony and ecstacy of sport - and all in one weekend

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Well, Katie won her battle and with great verve. For a boxer, she is highly unusual. She is such a valiant person but, as well as that, she is so modest. We will continue to follow your career, Katie, and look forward to next April when the next big fight takes place.

We had four terrific rugby wins again last weekend. I had the good luck to see the Munster versus Leicester Tigers match, as I was out with Aengus and Lisa and the children for the Sunday afternoon and it was on Sky Sports, so I followed it all. It was a big effort for Munster, because Leicester Tigers were on home ground and were determined to revenge the Aviva defeat from the week before. And so, not alone were the Leicester Tigers team in high form, but the whole crowd were in full fettle, cheering them on and shouting and roaring. Anyway, in the end, Munster won and well done to them.

Likewise, Leinster had a huge battle against Exeter in the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. Exeter had been used to having it their own way in this competition, and now it is hoped that Leinster will secure the top position there. Remarkably, Leinster came from way down at half-time as Exeter seemed on the rampage, allied to the fact that Johnny Sexton was knocked out early. So, all in all, it was a valiant effort.

On Friday night, Ulster got a bonus point over Harlequins and Saturday afternoon Connacht hammered Brive again, which will guarantee them a spot in the quarter finals of that European competition. All of this fine rugby makes for great practice for the Irish national team for 2018, when the Six Nations and other competitions open up.

Also, when I was out with Aengus and Lisa and family on Sunday, I saw the GAA Leinster Club Final, where St Loman’s of Mullingar were playing Moorefield of Kildare. This was an astonishing match. St Loman’s were winning by a fine score with a minute to go to full-time, with Moorefield five points behind them as the game went into injury time. You could see, watching the match, that the Moorefield supporters had begun to leave the ground, but suddenly their team managed to pull it off, scoring one goal and four points without a reply to claim the Leinster club title.

To look at the faces of the poor St Loman’s players as they fell to the ground. It was an unbelievable match. The pace of the game was all in favour of St Loman’s, and, suddenly, to have it all turned on its head was heartbreaking. I am sure they are very disappointed and even outraged in Mullingar.

As we are dealing with sports, I would like to give three cheers to the National Curriculum and Assessment Board (NCCA ), which has announced that Physical Education (PE ) will be made an exam subject in state examinations. I was really pleased to read about it, and I am delighted that the initiative had been taken by the NCCA, which I set up by statute in 1989.

Gemma Hussey, as Minister, had set it up as the The Curriculum and Examinations Board (CEB ), but when I came along we set it up in 1989 with a firm purpose of giving them work to do, to assess and change where they could, and innovate, where they could, the national curriculum for the state examinations.

Throughout the years, they have done just that and always with very good results, but this PE initiative is, I think, one of the best. They are going to have it at a written level and also, of course, at a practical level, where there will be two modules.

I hope the programme will also contain modules of mindfulness and general kindness to others, all of which combine to make a person be physically and mentally alert and correct. It is hoped that this subject will be fully integrated within two to three years into the secondary school system, and what a joy it will be for those many people who are looking to go forward into careers within the physical education scene. There are so many of them now, and so many well-trained young people need it to fill those positions. So, well done to the NCCA, and I wish them luck with their imaginative gesture. All my grandchildren are into games so there is no doubt that this will be a great opening for them.

We talked together so often last autumn about Catalonia and the various tensions that were so evident there. Now, the general election is on this coming Thursday, December 21, so we will be eagerly awaiting that result, whether Catalonia wishes to get full independence, or whether to stay entwined with central government in Madrid. That should make for a very interesting result, and it has crept up unnoticed on us.

Despite all the joy of Christmas and children and all the fun of that, it is still, essentially, at its heart a lonely time, and I feel it every year as I’m sure do many, many of my readers too. All we can do is count our blessings and the positive things which are in our lives, and which help to keep the loneliness at bay.

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Take care of yourselves,

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