Athlone swimming duo raise funds for Lough REE RNLI cause as local students await Leaving Cert results

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Oh so much to report on. To begin with, so much sport.

We begin of course with the All-Ireland football semi-final last Saturday between Kerry and Tyrone. That was a marvellous cracker of a match. All the commentators on radio, TV and print media leading up to the match gave the edge to Kerry in no uncertain terms. Yes, Kerry would do it, they would defeat Tyrone and go on, in their own way, to defeat Mayo.

Such surety for those commentators, and such a let-down when Tyrone got out of the traps and proceeded to score goals, which no one had expected, leading the match to a draw at the end which demanded extra time.

Extra time is a feature now because the GAA is running out of days, and therefore after such an important match there must be a decider one way or another, and in this case it was Tyrone who took the win. I remember writing a few weeks ago that Tyrone had a hidden quality, that you never knew quite what would emerge when they took to the important senior field And that is exactly what we got last Saturday.

It will be an amazing contest now between Mayo and Tyrone: Mayo, we know, with their doughty qualities of keeping a fight going and each player imbed with tenacity and a fierce urge to win, now that they have shaken Dublin off their shoulders, and Tyrone with their hidden qualities of a very powerful, often unexplainable type of play. We are in for a final to change all finals on September 11. Let’s dream of that. My preference, of course, is for Mayo to be finally crowned with the All-Ireland title that they so deserve.

Then on Sunday we had the two camogie semi-finals, again great to watch. I think camogie is a great watching and visual game, and they did not disappoint last Sunday.

Over all of that, of course, we have had the joy of the reporting of the Paralympics in Tokyo. As I write, Ireland is already doing really well with gold, silver and bronze medals. There is no doubt they are showing us all that, despite disability, people with determination can succeed at their chosen sport. We have a few days more to go, and I hope more honours will come Ireland’s way.

I hear on the news that the Irish female soccer players have achieved parity of pay with their male soccer counterparts. That is a great development for them and will serve, I hope, as a headline for other countries and other sports.

Before we leave the whole area of sports, I want to record the prowess and resilience of two female Athlone swimmers, Serena Friel and Karen Reynolds. Both young women swam from Lanesborough Bridge on the River Shannon to the Athlone town bridge in a time of 13 hours, sharing the swimming on alternate hours. I think it was a great endeavour and they did it all for the very charitable cause of the Athlone RNLI.

If the readers will permit, I can remember at this point when I was 14 years of age doing the quarter-mile women’s Shannon swim from up the river to the Athlone bridge. That Shannon swim is etched in my mind because in those days it was a really good win, and I am always proud of the Shannon quarter-mile women’s swimming race on that long-ago summer’s day.

Well done to Serena and Karen. I am full of admiration for them both.

This Friday, the day after the issue of this paper on Thursday, we will have the Leaving Cert results. Many people, one way or another, will have a stake in this result, including myself who, as the readers will know, have two grandchildren, a girl in Dublin and a boy in Athlone, who did the Leaving Cert. They are naturally full of apprehension and anticipation, especially with the hybrid Leaving Cert they have just undergone, which of course is a combination of sitting the exam papers and/or relying on the accredited marking system.

For them, and for so many young people, this will be a day of enjoyment and, in some cases of course, disappointment. Just to focus on the disappointment, it should not be so, because the Leaving Cert is only a gateway to life – yes, an important one, but your life of further education or work opportunities will only now be opening up.

I’ve just been listening to the radio which is telling us that over the next few days there will be a great loosening of restrictions and hopefully an end in sight to the pandemic. I don’t know about that at all; I will continue to be very careful and to observe all of the usual health rules. Yes, it is good that there will be a loosening of restrictions, but in the end it is all down to personal behaviour. That is the important factor in the opening up of the pandemic drama.

The situation in Afghanistan continues to unfold, with all its attendant ills. There was a successful evacuation of many of the Irish who were there, but there still remain many more of other nations to get out of that war-torn country.

I would like to end the column on a positive note. Next Friday night we will have a resumption of The Late Late Show. Now there are many of us who love that show, and there are many who don’t. I love it on a Friday night; it sort of brings the week to a satisfactory end, and I’ve no doubt from all the hints that Ryan Tubridy is giving us each morning that we will have a cracker of a show. I understand that there will be some audience in attendance, and hopefully participating, but the numbers in the beginning will be small. I wish it a success for the season ahead.

Space has caught up with me again. So despite the siren calls of ‘Freedom at last’, stay safe and stay careful until I talk with you all next week.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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