Leaving Cert results relief for local students as Westmeath ladies perform heroics in Croke Park

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

So much action over the past week that I had better get started immediately. In the minds of many people, particularly young people, last Friday was the important day when the Leaving Cert results came out and young people had an opportunity to find out exactly how they had done in the recent hybrid Leaving Certificate. It appears that the results were much better than anybody had expected, and right throughout that day there were exclamations of delight from so many young people.

For me personally, as the readers will know, I had a double interest in it – a Leaving Cert Jennifer in Dublin and a Leaving Cert Luke in Athlone. Both of these young people appeared very pleased with the points they achieved in the exams. But of course, the big act will be on Tuesday afternoon when the CAO issues its first offers as to the choices young people have made.

Both of my grandchildren seem to think that the points they have obtained, even though they have gone up since last year, will be sufficient to assure them of a CAO place. We will wait and see. I am compiling this prior to the 2.30pm CAO results on Tuesday, but I will carry on the story next week when we will know the final outcome.

In the meantime, children are back at school all over Ireland. The return dates have been staggered so there are young people on the road every day from last Friday onwards and now in full stream this present week. I must say the young people I know appeared quite delighted to be going back – a chance to see their school pals again and above all a delight in what a nice summer they had during the last few months.

So it’s wait and see time, and for me a continuing strong interest in the developments.

Last Sunday saw the biggest extravaganza of sport on TG4, starting with all of the Peil na mBan Beo – three separate matches. Beginning at 11.40 we had Antrim versus Wicklow, followed at 1.30 by the Intermediate final, Westmeath versus Wexford, and final the climax to it all at 3.30, the Senior final, Dublin versus Meath.

Oh readers, such excitement, particularly for us with the Intermediate final between Westmeath and Wexford. Of course, we in Athlone were in favour of Westmeath and they did have a terrific game and a great result.

There were four players from Garrycastle, a local GAA club, and one from Caulry, another local club. These Westmeath women really played football. It was great to be able to see them so clearly on what was a lovely afternoon.

But of course, the huge main event was Peil na mBan Beo Senior final, Dublin versus Meath. Now for those who follow sport, it was amazing the week leading up to this match that all of the commentary, both in print and on TV and radio, was saying that of course Dublin would win it. They were hoping to make it five in a row. Meath had only been transferred to senior status for the last six months. But more was to come.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team, male or female, respond to the challenge as the Meath women did last Sunday. They got an early goal which set the scene and the pace for what followed. There was a level of football played last Sunday which it will be difficult to surpass. Emma Duggan, Aoibhin Cleary and so many others just played their hearts out. They never lost their assertive thrust and in

the end they won by two points over a clearly crestfallen Dublin. It was a terrific match to view and to enjoy.

It was a women’s only weekend in sport. On Saturday night we had Katie Taylor battling Jennifer Han in Leeds. Jennifer put up a good fight but it was a straight Taylor win, a record 19-0. We expected that of Katie; she remains a great competitor.

Now if all that wasn’t enough, we had the golf to contend with when Leona Maguire rode through the Solheim Cup getting 3.5 points out of 4 and ensuring Europe would take the lead. With all that prowess on the fields of sport, it is wonderful to know that Irish women were more than shouldering the victories over last weekend. Good for them; they were a long time getting there.

It was great to see President Michael D. Higgins at the women’s football final on Sunday, and likewise An Taoiseach Micheál Martin accompanied by his wife Mary, all there to see Ireland’s glory on the sports field.

All this of course was a prelude to next weekend’s football final between Mayo and Tyrone. Again, the commentators are out, downplaying Mayo and saying forcefully that yes, Tyrone are going to unleash a power and a supremacy that will be hard for Mayo to match.

That will be next Saturday and I am sure so many of the Advertiser readers will be on tenterhooks until the game commences. My bet is on Mayo and my fervent wish is that they will finally get their hands on the Sam Maguire Cup.

Between the football and the Leaving Cert, it’s been an action-packed week. Imagine if you were a contestant in either sphere. For me I am just an onlooker but hugely interested in both spheres of activity.

Conor Lenihan’s book on Albert Reynolds is out and, according to all accounts, appears to be selling well in the bookshops in Dublin. Next Friday, Conor and his lovely 12-year-old daughter will be coming to stay with me while he goes to do book signings in Athlone, Roscommon, Longford, Mullingar and other towns. As I said in my endorsement, it’s a great read and I hope many of the Advertiser readers will have an opportunity to either get it in their local library or to purchase it.

The vaccination effort is powering ahead. The last statistic I saw was that 90 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated. I keep hearing cases of people who have been fully vaccinated still getting Covid. However, it appears they only get a very mild dose for two or three days, more like a flu than a pandemic. Let’s hope that’s the way it continues.

In the meantime, I’m back to my old homily: stay at home as often as you can, stay out of crowds, keep social distancing, keep wearing masks in public. We’re on a good path now and let’s make sure that we stay there.

So until we all catch up with one another next week, stay safe and mind yourself.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke.


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