Well, there was so much sporting excitement over the weekend that it was hard to cope with, and hard to know what to concentrate on at any one point. Because of the national implications, I’ll plump first for Shane Lowry. What a player, what a guy, what a man. He really showed everyone how victory can be attained, how to handle it, and above all how to show your appreciation.
Shane and his caddy Brian ‘Bo’ Martin were locked together in endeavour, in stamina, and in comradeship. Shane was quick to appreciate what Bo had brought to the twosome – a sense of unity and a sense of ‘can do it’ – and Shane really could do it.
What I loved about his play was the way he appreciated the crowds who kept up with him. The weather wasn’t great on one of the days, and they put on their rain coats and rain hats, put up their umbrellas, and followed him doggedly and diligently. They were part of the overall triumph, and Shane showed his appreciation so well that it warmed your heart to see him marching down the 18th at Royal Portrush and responding to the mighty applause. And there was the lovely way he showed his joy when he was reunited with his wife Wendy and their two-year-old daughter Iris.
Then there was the immediate Lowry family – his father Brendan Lowry (the famous Offaly footballer ), his mother Bridget, and his irrepressible grandmother Emily who couldn’t be fazed or put down throughout the whole glorious circumstances.
Well done Shane Lowry, you’ve done the Midlands proud – not just by your game of golf, but by your spirit and your delight in all that was happening. It was a pleasure to watch it on TV. Of course we have more to follow, because as I write this he will be greeted by massive crowds on the green in his hometown of Clara, as he carries aloft the Claret Jug, and then onwards to the Esker Hills Golf Club.
But for all that golf excitement, the game that gave me the greatest joy over the weekend was the one that Mayo played against Meath, which of course signified that Mayo live to fight another day. It was a good strong win against Meath, and what I loved was that even though for three quarters of the game it was close-paced and appeared equal, when they were needed the Mayo men came out, their spirits lifted, and they got the scores. Well done Mayo, we have another wonderful weekend to look forward to.
Not so for Roscommon in Croke Park. Now, Roscommon knew what was awaiting them as they travelled up to Croke Park, but they played their best, and of course, Dublin just won all round them. It is part of the GAA malaise which means all roads, no matter how valiant the play is in the earlier stages, lead to Croke Park, and lead to Dublin, and lead to defeat.
Travelling on from sport, we enter the political arena, and as I write this Boris Johnson has been confirmed as the choice of the Conservative Members Association, and therefore the next British prime minister. What awaits us all? There are some hard months ahead, and scant holidays for any of the main players in the UK, in Europe, or indeed here in Ireland.
I am sure that Theresa May and her husband Philip will be sad at leaving Number 10 Downing Street, but in another way I am sure they’ll be glad to have time together again, and to live a proper, ordered, life. I noted during last week Theresa May brought the BBC’s top political reporter Laura Kuenssberg into Number 10 and showed her the upstairs flat where the prime minister of the day lives. It seems a modest setting – a lounge, kitchen, two bedrooms, bathroom – but as she showed her around I thought there was a sense of pathos about it all. But it gave us a chance to see what ‘living above the shop’ really means.
With all the recent political and sporting excitement, it is easy for us to overlook the fact that Fiona Mitchell has left London as the RTÉ correspondent and has been replaced by Sean Whelan. I’d like to personally thank Fiona for her wonderful reporting. No matter what the excitement or the latest catastrophic event in the UK, when the news in Dublin went to her, there she was, composed, with her clipped accent, her clarity of thought and speech. You were always able to take in very quickly what she had to say and the political message it conveyed. I am sure Sean Whelan will be equally erudite, but somehow it will be difficult to replace Fiona.
There have been some really good TV one-offs recently. We had Brian O’Driscoll, the rugby star, with his film Shoulder to Shoulder, and it was an eye-opener as to how the rugby team managed friendships during the dark days of the Northern Troubles, and still kept afloat the idea that it didn’t matter where you came from as long as you wore the green jersey.
There was also the documentary on Katie Taylor, which gave a true account of the simplicity of her character and her determination to gain further and further prowess in the fighting arena. All very heady stuff.
But I have a real crib with RTÉ. We are entering into the time of repeats, repeats, repeats. Many of the various episodes that are being shown, we have already seen, not once but maybe twice before. So please can we have some let-up on the repeats? They don’t make for good TV viewing when you know how they’re going to turn out even as they begin.
So come on RTÉ, cut down on the repeats, and we’ll enjoy RTÉ all the more.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
Continue to enjoy the lovely sunshine, but go safely.
Slán go fóill.