The best hurlers are not always on the ditch!

I am going to begin with a really, good, lively story. I hope many of you watched the televised Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final on Sunday between Kilkenny and Waterford. I am not at all a hurling fan. I follow all football whether GAA, soccer, or rugby, but I actually never sat down to watch a hurling match. But I started watching this one and I was riveted by it.

It was a completely compelling game showing hurling at its very best, and to my mind an audience from anywhere in the world would enjoy looking at the competence, the daring, and the sheer courage and skill of all of the players. I am sure many people were willing on Waterford against the always-winning Kilkenny, which I suppose is not very fair of me to say!

Be that as it may, Kilkenny stuck with them even though Waterford had a point or two ahead right throughout the match. And then on 68 minutes, with the score at Waterford 0-23 and Kilkenny 0-20, Kilkenny scored a killer goal followed by a point. A point from Waterford equalised the score and so the match ended Kilkenny 1-21 Waterford 0-24 to be played again next Saturday.

Those who watched it will have enjoyed it from the sheer skill of what they saw. To me it was a few hours to savour. And, of course, Hawk-Eye came into his own having to rule on two points, the second of which certainly was in contention. It looked as if it was won for Waterford but it was ruled out and you cannot argue with Hawk-Eye TV. It is truly infallible.

Last Saturday, I was at the Kilbeggan Races, which was a great success for this Midland venue. All the receipts were up including the numbers attending. It is a great family occasion. There was a special field with a massive bouncy castle for children and so many families were there. There was a general air of gaiety and joyfulness throughout the afternoon.

I met so many old friends from around the Midlands and further afield. All in all it was a great occasion and well done to the race committee who put on a wonderful show. I had no wins worth talking about but that was not to take from the total enjoyment of the whole afternoon and early evening. The weather stayed fine, warm, and dry. Weather has always been a bugbear to Kilbeggan but on this occasion the committee certainly drew a winner in the weather stakes.

Now, what to do about Rio? I am sure many of you watched the opening sequence on Friday night last. It was spectacular. Though not as vivid perhaps as the London one, it was nevertheless highly enjoyable.

Then we had the very sad news of Michael O’Reilly and the doping controversy. It surely would have put a damper on our boxing squad on which many of the Irish hopes reside.

On Saturday, I watched the cycling race which afforded the viewer a terrific vista of the countryside around Rio which is truly magnificent. Of course, over it all was the huge iconic figure of Christ The Redeemer, hands outstretched. What a wonderful backdrop image to be imprinted on everyone’s mind. The cobblestones section of the cycling race led to some nasty falls for some riders – up to a dozen of them from a full field.

RTÉ 2 are giving great coverage of all of the sports and provide a full list of which will feature Irish contestants and at what time they will be shown. It is a great help and it means the viewer can pick and choose what they want to look at and curtails the often vacuous staring at the TV.

Now we are back again to the politics. As readers will know, I just cannot ever leave that subject. I am what you might call addicted to it. I guess having spent so many years of my life in full practice as a politician I find it very hard to shake off the habits of a lifetime.

Last weekend I read a fascinating profile of Deputy Denis Naughten of the constituency of Roscommon/Galway East, where he headed the poll with 14,000 votes in the recent election. Now he is the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. That is an awesome title, but knowing Denis he will be well able to fill the shoes of it.

We, in Athlone, have gotten to know him very well throughout the years. I would have always had regard for him as a serious politician from the time he started out on this career. What I liked about the tone of the interview he did with Michael Brennan, political editor of The Sunday Business Post, was that Denis seems to understand fully how his role can interact with ‘new politics’.

He does not decry new politics, indeed far from it – he sees it as an opportunity in which he wants to practise the art of politics. He does not see why opposition TDs who come up with good ideas should be dismissed.

Having spent many years on opposition benches himself, he would know full well the disappointment a TD feels when they have thought up some good ideas to put forward for legislation only to have them dismissed out of hand by whatever Government was in charge.

He spoke proudly of legislation which he recently passed through Leinster House. He accepted amendments from Bríd Smith (People Before Profit ), Eamon Ryan of the Green Party, Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fáil, and Brian Stanley of Sinn Féin. He feels that this is the correct way to govern anyway, apart from the fact that new politics now rules the waves. He is convinced it is the way to do parliamentary business.

I fully agreed with him. Readers will know I have been trumpeting this tune for weeks and I am so happy to find a Cabinet Minister fully in agreement not just in speech but practising it as well. Fair dues to you Denis, you bring a lustre to your profession and to your work therein.

There are plenty of members of this Dáil of all parties who want it to succeed, and I hope their will drowns out the cries of the begrudgers.

I hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke


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