Athlone rugby duo depart for World Cup as Boris touches down

There is so much to talk about that I would need five columns to fit it all in, and sometimes I feel like that when I am facing a lot of writing to do. But I must compress it and try to do the best with the space I have.

I’m going to begin with the camogie on Sunday, because it is a long time since I got such joy and excitement out of watching a whole day of camogie.

I have talked in this column before about the skill of camogie, obviously a sister skill to hurling. Last Sunday saw the junior, intermediate and senior finals, beginning at 12 noon on RTÉ and going on all afternoon until 6pm. It was a marvellous spectacle, and the girls playing it exhibited such skill, tenacity and toughness that it was an amazing sight to behold.

First up at 12 noon was the junior final, Kerry against Limerick, with the final score being Kerry 11, Limerick 8 points. This was a great match with, as I said, an abundance of skill and toughness. The Kerry win would have given good spirit to the Kerry team for next Saturday – but more about that anon.

Next we had the intermediate final which Westmeath won 1-11 to Galway’s 1-9. This was a terrific game. It was wonderful to see the Westmeath girls in such good form and spirit. I know that a 52-seater bus left Drumraney with the south Westmeath camogie supporters on it, accompanied by three or four supporters’ cars. It is great to see camogie taking definite root in Westmeath.

The third game up was the senior final, and it was Galway 3-14, Kilkenny 17 points. Again, a marvellous game, and I loved the great joy and exhibition of exuberance which the Galway team displayed when they went up to get their cup. They really showed off their capability so well. They came through Athlone that evening, crossing the old bridge and giving delight to everyone who was out to meet them.

Well done to all who played and all who supported – there were 25,000 spectators in Croke Park which was very good for these attendances – and to RTÉ for giving us such a great Sunday of enjoyment.

The day before the camogie matches, we had Ireland versus Wales in another friendly rugby match. Now, this was a wonderful display, and finally the Irish team looked as if they had got it all together. They were playing as a team; their communications on the pitch, even to one another, were a delight to behold, and of course they had a great win over Wales.

We had great excitement here. Feargal in Dublin invited Aengus and son James up to Dublin to PWC for a brunch and then on to the Aviva Stadium where they had lovely seats. They had an enjoyable Saturday, but I sat at home and loved every minute of it.

Firstly, I was delighted to see Robbie Henshaw back in such good form. I had not talked about him in my column for some time, as I was almost afraid to do so. Every bulletin that came out of training never mentioned him. The papers never mentioned him, and the media rugby commentators never mentioned him over the past number of weeks. I was afraid to do so too, in case I was tempting fate. I was really afraid that something had happened and that he wouldn’t be on the team. But thank God it all worked out so well and oh, did he show he was back!

It was the old Robbie Henshaw back in full form, and the wonderful working relationship and friendship that he has with Bundee Aki was on full display for all to see. Robbie was with Connacht, and there he formed the friendship with Bundee, and it was a delight to see them on the pitch in such terrific form and getting on so well.

Jack Carty did well when he came on in the second half. That Saturday night, both Robbie Henshaw and all his friends and family, and Jack Carty and all his friends and family, turned up at The Bounty in Athlone, which is the rugby clubhouse. They got a terrific welcome, and I believe the night was sheer joy for all who were there to delight in the two ex-Marist boys who had really made good in rugby, and who now were going off to conquer the world.

Before we finish off on the games, we have next Saturday to look forward to, the repeat Kerry versus Dublin. And of course the pundits in the paper have already begun, “Oh, Dublin has reserves of energy and skill which they will bring to the surface now,” and it’s all Dublin, Dublin, Dublin, We’ll see. I have a strong belief that Kerry will manage it, based on the fact that they are young and have plenty of strength and skill to show off in Croke Park next Saturday.

I loved the Kennedy School last Friday and Saturday. Great tributes were paid by all the speakers to Noel Whelan who began the whole adventure of the Kennedy School, and everyone felt great regret that he wasn’t there to see such a large and enthusiastic crowd.

Micheál Martin spoke very well at the lunch, and then did a live interview from the stage, which turned out to be a great success. I had a good discussion with him afterwards, and I was happy to see him in such excellent form and looking forward to the budget in October, the by-elections in November, and the general election in February/March/April 2020.

The House of Commons is closed for five weeks, so we will be without the spectacle of Newsnight or any other BBC political programme which details each evening the goings-on in Westminster. We had Boris Johnson, his shirt sticking out, arriving at Government Buildings this week. I was delighted to see that he and Leo Varadkar seemed to be in a friendly mood together, and who knows what that might lead on to? I hold myself still to the opinion that during the last week or few days a solution will arise to the whole Backstop arrangement, and life will look good again for all who have been living in trepidation.

Well we’ll have to wait and see, won’t we? But in the meantime we will still be getting daily accounts of Boris at shows pulling an unwieldy bull around, or going to meet groups of workers here and there. There is no doubt he is set upon a general election.

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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