Well I have to start with rugby. I think Joe Schmidt when he was interviewed after the match was fully correct when he said, “it’s a reality check for all of us,” and by that he meant the team and himself as head coach. How true that was. Somehow we, the public, and I expect the team also, felt that we were poised to defeat England. We didn’t at all take into account that England under Jones were bound for revenge, and they got it.
From the beginning of the match, somehow Ireland looked flat, no spirit among the team members, and whilst there was a huge crowd in the Aviva Stadium, somehow they lacked oomph as well. The score by England in the first two minutes took the whole fizz out of the Irish team. They seemed to go flat like a balloon, and from then on you felt that Ireland would never recover.
There was not one spark of extra life among any of the team members. They plodded on as best they could, but somehow we all felt it was going to be England’s win.
It was as if England was on a Brexit bash, and we the Irish felt the recipient of the full weight of that. I can only imagine that the meal following the match was a subdued affair. Likewise, the viewing of the match by all of the team members this week and the training following that will be subdued. But it cannot be so. We have to face Scotland next Saturday, and the Irish team have to get back their mojo. After all, they were rated the second best team in the world. So come on lads, we want to see it on the pitch and we want to cheer again for our team.
I went up to the local shop when the match finished on some errand, and it was like as if a collective blight had come over those in the shop. They were all saying: What happened? How did it happen? Well it happened; we were roundly beaten, and the sooner we climb up out of that slough the better. After all, we can’t be winners all the time, can we? The difficulty is that we had all convinced ourselves that we could win every and any match. Anyway, reality has surely set in this week, and I expect we will see an altered team next Saturday.
Now the women did very badly in their match, facing a fully professional team with a sporting lot of Irish women, but with very little professional training. However, they will become better; they are a team in the making and I am sure as time goes on they will fare better. The under 20 men were terrific and, if you like, were a warning shot across the bow of the Irish team: Hey boys, if you don’t perform, we’re coming up the ladder and we’ll be there!!
So much for rugby. Westmeath had a draw with Carlow in the Allianz League at the weekend. Westmeath have been doing very well and I hope it will continue.
Some of the readers may remember I wrote about Helen Dixon last year. She is Ireland’s Data Commissioner and is from the town of Athlone. She was interviewed last Saturday by Marion Finucane for well over an hour. She spoke such plain English and with a clarity of voice and a command of her subject, that it made for vivid listening. Well done Helen Dixon, we are so proud of you and you have an almighty job to do to get the various EU directives into place, and to get the proper staff in place, so that Ireland are well fit in Europe with all of the workings of our Data Commissioner and her office.
So Theresa May is in the North this week, Tuesday and Wednesday, and yet no one as yet knows her plan or what she is about. I have a feeling that the Prime Minister thinks by constant moving, now to the North, shortly to Brussels, and back again to Westminster, that somehow out of all the miasma will emerge a final solution. I’m not so sure about that, and I certainly don’t want the final solution to be one where there is no Brexit deal. While she is bustling about, reassuring, reassuring, reassuring that all will be well and she has a plan, we hope it can be unveiled soon.
So, the John Broderick workshops of which I spoke last week are continuing this week and next week. They are proving very enjoyable and very popular, and I feel that the writer in residence at the Civic Centre, Anne-Marie Ní Churreáin, is giving a great service under the aegis of the John Broderick bequest.
This week I’m in University College Dublin at the UCD Women in Leadership Conference, a seminar organised by Dublin solicitor Arthur Cox. Nora Owen and I are talking on resilience in the face of adversity, which seems a very good topic both politically and personally.
Coming up is the Brian Lenihan Jr Memorial Lecture in Trinity College. I go every year and it is always a wonderful event. The law students in Trinity run it; they get an eminent judge to give a major speech on Brian Lenihan and on the work he carried out during the financial emergency, and then they have various audience contributions. It is a great event and one I always look forward to, because of course I hold his memory so dear. The law students put on a great show both in the lectures and the audience participation, and afterwards at a social event. It is great to think that the work he did is being remembered in some quarters.
I cannot end without a reference to the nurses of Ireland. Yes, I know I am with all of you readers who feel that something will have to give in this impasse. It just cannot go on indefinitely – patients suffering, nurses not wanting to be on the picket line, and yet their woes need to be attended to. I understand fully the dilemma in which the present government finds itself. I was in that dilemma myself, both with teachers when I was Minister in the Department of Education, and in the Department of Public Enterprise when I was in charge of CIE, Bord na Móna, etc. In those years there was always someone in government (usually An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern ) who had a handle on labour relations and knew when to move at quite the correct time and in the right way. I don’t see anyone like that on the horizon now.
Let’s hope it ends fruitfully; the nurses’ case deserves proper attention.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.