Looking at all the fuss on the radio and TV and written media on the AC Milan match against Shamrock Rovers during the week in Tallaght Stadium, I was immediately very interested.
Why was I interested? Well, back in 1975, on October 22, AC Milan came to play Athlone Town in St Mel’s Park in Athlone. I can remember it so vividly; I was the Town Council chairman and was invited, with the big gold chain around my neck, and of course I went to the match.
I remember Trapattoni was in the Italian entourage, whether as a trainer or just a member of the group I don’t know. I know that the road going into St Mel’s was muddy and wet; I can only imagine how the shiny black patent shoes of the Italians must have dealt with that!
Anyway, soccer is soccer, and so the game began and went on. It was a draw, no goals either side. There was a penalty kick for Athlone which the Italian goalie was able to very easily knock away. Imagine if we had won that penalty kick, we could have actually won the match and beaten AC Milan.
As I said above, that was October 22. The next match was two weeks later between Athlone Town and AC Milan, held in Milan in the pitch and club known as San Siro Milan. This time the score was 3-0 for Milan.
As the readers can imagine, it was wonderful that Athlone Town held AC Milan to a draw in Athlone, and the reverberations of that match lasted for ages in sporting commentary.
Turning to education, I note that more than 12,000 Leaving Cert students have sought re-checks of their calculated grades results. As we know from last week, already a case has been taken in the High Court which will no doubt serve as a test for many others to follow. We will see what the outcome of all of this will be.
As we know, students are already back in the primary and secondary schools, and this week and next the third-level institutions throughout the country will come back, but mostly to online teaching and activities. Of course it’s all terrible and of course it’s all unfair, but we are living through terrible times with the heightened incidence of coronavirus constantly accelerating. Sometimes I wonder where it is all going to end, or are we going to be overcome throughout the world by this hateful virus?
I hope the students will continue to go back to school at all levels. I cannot praise enough the teachers who continue daily their task of ensuring education to their young pupils.
Yes, I know there is talk of the ASTI, but I also know there are intensive talks going on between the Department of Education and the teaching unions to ensure that whatever the difficulties are in the classrooms, they can be resolved satisfactorily.
To strike an optimistic note, it is great to see the libraries fully open everywhere with lovely helpful staff and a great range of books available. If you request a book and they don’t have it, they will have it from another library in about a week to ten days. Now that is a marvellous service, and I have been fortunate in using that twice in the last number of weeks, and I marvel at the knowledge and skill of the librarians.
We have so much sport to talk about from last weekend. First of all, on Saturday there was Leinster versus Saracens in the Aviva Stadium. Now, the whole week before, the sports writers in the various papers had been waxing enthusiastic about the prospects for Leinster, who were just sure to beat Saracens. As we now know, that is not at all the way it turned out. For the first half of the match, Leinster just didn’t play. Yes, they perked up in the second half, but it was all too late. I couldn’t get it on TV because I hadn’t that station, but I listened to it on RTÉ; they had a marvellous account of it and I was sorry for Leinster.
Then on Sunday, we had Ulster versus Toulouse. Again, it was hyped up, but not with the high hopes as had been evident for Leinster. Just as well, because Toulouse tore into Ulster and had a huge winning score.
Then on Sunday, here in South Roscommon, we had St Brigid’s of Kiltoom versus Na Piarsaigh, and to all of our delight, St Brigid’s won. That was the county senior final, so it was a great win for Kiltoom and much celebration all round.
I’m sure many of the readers have been following the story of Sam Bennett of Carrick-on-Suir who has become the first Irish man in 31 years to wear any classification jersey at the Tour de France, and only the second to win stages on all three Grand Tours. Sean Kelly, also of Carrick-on-Suir, achieved the same feat back in 1989.
There was marvellous footage every evening on TG4 of the stages that day, and always we were looking out for the green jersey champion. I understand An Post has been one of the main sponsors of Sam Bennett and I’m glad to see that a good Irish national company is doing that.
By the time you read this column, the memoir written by Mary McAleese will be out. Be sure to get the Sunday Independent next week, because my review of the book will be in it. It’s a handsome book, and through every line you can hear the voice and the personality of Mary McAleese coming through in such a straightforward, humorous and terrifically descriptive way.
Our Indian summer is coming to an end, but we’ve had ten wonderful days and lovely memories to go with it.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, stay safe and stay at home as much as you can.
Slán go fóill.