Roscommon rise to the Connacht challenge as family memories remain pertinent

I am unashamedly dwelling, in the beginning of this column, on the outright triumph of Roscommon in Salthill against Galway last Sunday. I was lucky in that I was at home and had nobody with me, which meant that I could enjoy with my own company the RTÉ coverage on Sunday afternoon.

Such raw native courage, I hadn’t seen on a playing field in a long time. You see, the game was really difficult to follow, because the first half seemed to show that Galway had the upper hand, and yet in the second half Galway seemed to have practically disappeared from play and Roscommon roamed untouched. There was the monsoon-like rain which submerged the pitch, the onlookers and the players, and yet they played through that, showing again their capability in withstanding the ravages of nature.

Whatever Anthony Cunningham, the Roscommon manager, said to his guys during the half-time interval, I would truly like to know, because whatever he told them had some galvanising effect. The rain had swept away and sunshine was beginning to eke through when the two teams came back on the pitch, and it was as if Roscommon had become electrified in the half-time interval.

They roamed far and wide – no kick was out of bounds for them, no strategy, no plan, they just played that wonderful game that Roscommon can play when they are really put to it. And as they excelled, so the light went out from Galway, who became passive, focus-less, and altogether a hopeless looking team. It was a raw physical match in many ways, with small rows breaking out on the pitch between players, punching and kicking and elbowing one another in little groups when they got the opportunity. But that didn’t stop Roscommon from forging ahead: a wonderful goal and then point after point. Oh, it was just glorious. Come on the Rossies, the Rossies, the Rossies – you can do it when you have to!

Now, I did feel sympathy with the Galway team, particularly on Sunday night as I was visited by a County Galway man who was bemoaning the fact that Galway was now out of the hurling and the football, and what were all the Galway people going to be following for all the weeks of summer?! He too admitted, however, that there was no doubt that Roscommon were by far the better team.

We both followed the Channel 4 British contenders election debate (minus the kingmaker Boris ). Then he went home and do you know what I did? I turned on The Sunday Game at 9.30 and watched Roscommon again, and again I exulted in their glory and their courage.

The Roscommon people are lit up, and so well they might be, watching their heroes make memories for their county.

Going back to the Channel 4 debate on Sunday night: it was a bit unreal without Boris, though they all proceeded to bullyrag him when he wasn’t there. Rory Stewart, he of the puckish, impish face, garnered a lot of applause from the audience, mostly I think because of his actual truth when he spoke, and the lack of carry-on or tomfoolery kind of talk in which the other contenders were indulging.

Then on Monday night of this week, I was in Dublin West, in Blanchardstown, at the anniversary Mass for Brian Lenihan Jr. The local Fianna Fáil organisation there have never forgotten about him and they have this Mass every year which is attended by the members of the local party and any friends and family of Brian who would like to come along. I always like to go, but I am always struck again and again by the huge loss Brian was to Irish public life, and how different public life would be if he was still with us.

Well, the county council have had their AGM in Mullingar, in which the two Green councillors joined the Fianna Fáil group, and I wish them all good luck in pushing their programme through.

Then on Monday afternoon here in Athlone, the municipal district AGM was held in which the nine members were present, including Louise Heavin, the Green Party member, and Jamie Moran, the son of Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran. There are four Fianna Fáil members on that: Frankie Keena, Aengus O’Rourke, Vinny McCormack of Ballymore and Liam McDaniel of Kilbeggan. So they four, and the Green party representative, again make up the balance of power in the civic centre in Athlone. I wish them good luck as well in their programme for Athlone and all of the areas involved in the municipality.

Wasn’t it great to see last Sunday an enactment for the 100th anniversary of the crossing from Newfoundland to Ireland of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, the Alcock and Brown, A&B, of fame? They set off from Newfoundland and 16 hours later, on June 15, 1919, landed in a bog in Clifden, a non-stop transatlantic flight in which they had to spend some time trying to keep the frost from the windscreen. Such courage they showed.

I remember when our two sons were young, Enda and I went to Clifden for several holidays and we stayed in a hotel called the Alcock and Brown Hotel. Aengus was very young and couldn’t pronounce the name of the hotel, and when someone would ask him ‘Where are you staying?’ he’d say ‘We’re staying in Cocky Brown’s Hotel!’ It’s good to see such proper recognition of that event 100 years ago, and to understand again the perilous nature of the journey they made and the outstanding event it was in aviation history.

The Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations are nearing an end, and it looks as if the weather will get a bit better, saving them the stress of coping with high temperatures as they wrote, and hopefully bringing back to the general public a taste of what summer should really be like.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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