Ireland revels in sporting joy as grim Covid-19 situation causes concern

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Again this week, so much to talk and write about, and the space seems to be gobbled up very quickly.

Firstly, hadn’t we a great win over New Zealand? We should, as a nation, be so pleased at the result.

I smiled when the All Blacks started the haka and the 51,700 people in the stands started to sing ‘The Fields of Athenry’. It was such a joyful time.

I felt the Irish team would be better to do Irish dancing like the ‘Bridge of Athlone’ or the ‘Walls of Limerick’ to offset the haka! However, be that as it may, the haka is the preserve of the All Blacks and I think it should be given the respect due to it, even though some of the faces of the guys doing the haka were so fierce and so combative.

Anyway, in the first half, all the play seemed to be from Ireland’s side and yet, at half time, we were down. New Zealand put up a great defence. Even though they are at the end of their tour, Ireland were in terrific form and I loved the fact that the Kiwis on the Irish team such as Bundee Aki and Jamison Gibson-Park were playing against their mates from New Zealand. Oh, that was just terrific.

James Lowe got the first score of the match again, as he did last week against Japan. He’s on top form and gives so much to a game.

I notice that the All Blacks kept targeting Johnny Sexton, and in the end they had their reward: he had to go off with a twisted ankle and will be out for several weeks.

I notice also in the paper that Jack Carty of Connacht is getting a call up for next week. Whether or not he will play is another matter, but at least it is a recognition for him.

It was a terrific, well-fought game of rugby. The All Blacks never let up, but if they didn’t, well Ireland never let up either. They came back after half-time full of determination and vim, and within four minutes had a try. However, the game didn’t end until the 79th minute when Joey Carbery scored the penalty which gave us the final victory.

There is no doubt it was one of the very best games of rugby I have ever watched, and I am sure it gave so much pleasure to all who viewed it in person or on TV, or heard it on the radio.

Well done Ireland – you can do it when you want to!

A few days earlier, the soccer match, Ireland versus Portugal, was a friendly with nothing hanging on it for points. However, it gave a huge boost in the arm, first of all to Stephen Kenny, the Irish manager. Up to now, people had been saying ‘Oh, it’s only a matter of time and he’ll be let go, he’s no good,’ etc etc. All the commentary was based on that.

Suddenly, after the Portugal match, everyone was lauding him. It surely was a turnaround, and I am glad for Stephen because there were times when he really looked down and out.

What do the readers think of Addison Whelan, the young Dublin girl who flew onto the pitch and threw her arms around Cristiano Ronaldo, who stripped his jersey and gave it to her?

She had some neck to evade the security around the pitch, but she had her reward. The crowd kept booing Ronaldo throughout the game, but when he gave his shirt to Addison there was a huge cheer.

The Minister for Education, Norma Foley, was down in Athlone’s Department of Education last week. After she had met and talked with the staff, she rang me from there and told me she had her photograph taken beside the plaque with my name on it from when the second tranche of the Department of Education was set up.

I was delighted to know that she had been down, and to hear from her.

Last Saturday was certainly a good day. After the wonderful Ireland win, I went straight on to Strictly Come Dancing which I am following on BBC Two. It’s a great programme and I follow all the participants and take note of the various marks which they are getting.

The Tidy Towns results were out last week. Due to Covid, there was no such competition last year. The town of Ennis was the overall winner and it is indeed a very fine town. I was glad to see that Athlone got a gold award, the first time they had done so. Hopefully, it will lead on to further honours in this SuperValu competition.

So far, it’s all been good news I’ve been talking with you about. But let’s look at the truly dreadful current Covid situation. The head of the Health Services Executive is calling the situation “grim” and there is no other description of it. We are in the midst of a fourth wave of the pandemic. Despite all of the wonderful vaccinations we have had, it is clear that the effect of these vaccinations is waning and we will have to embark now on giving the booster (of which I am a delighted recipient ) to the rest of the population. It seems to be the only way that we will make ourselves safer.

The news and the numbers about Covid get more disturbing by the day. And yet, there are people who will not go for their vaccination. It is so hard to believe and to understand.

I know all of the readers are doing their best. To me, the safest way is to stay out of crowds and keep your distance from one another.

Please, not another lockdown. It would be so hateful coming up to Christmas.

I know I sound repetitive when I keep talking about the wonderful weather. The first half of November has been absolutely brilliant. Of course, the high temperatures for November with sunny afternoons and generally a warm climate is all part of climate change.

The COP26 in Glasgow seems to have ended not in a good way, and it is true what Mary Robinson says when she paints a picture of how things will be in about 30 years’ time.

Between the renewed onslaught of Covid and the seeming failure of Glasgow’s COP26 to achieve a meaningful breakthrough, I’m afraid that after all the euphoria at the start of this column I’m ending on a more difficult note.

However, keep your heart up and think of Derek Mahon, the poet, who said “Everything is going to be all right.”

So until I talk with you all next week, stay safe and mind yourself.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke

 

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