Uncertainty of omicron variant a concern as Carty plays pivotal role in Connacht rugby victory

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

As I am compiling this piece on Tuesday, we still do not know what the mysterious Omicron variant is capable of, or the details of it.

I have watched and listened to all of the eminent professors and doctors, and they all have the same response: they do not know the force or the potency of Omicron, only that it is all over Europe and the UK, and apparently going to be all over here in Ireland. But we still know nothing of its pervasive qualities.

We await further information, and in the meantime we have to keep to the everyday health protocols. Readers will have noted the huge ad in all of the daily papers ‘R.S.V.P.’ which tells you exactly what you are to do as an individual to cope with the ongoing pandemic.

Let’s go further afield for a change. As we all know, Angela Merkel has retired in Germany after 16 years as Chancellor. During those years she provided, not only to Germany but to Europe as a whole, a sense of stability and common sense which was sadly lacking in many episodes.

Anyway, we wish her well in her retirement and I was glad to read that she is an avid reader of historical books – fancy that! Who’d have thought, but I am glad to know it.

The new man in charge in Germany is Olaf Scholz who is now the German Chancellor. He leads his Social Democratic Party in a coalition which they call the ‘Traffic Light Coalition’. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there; he will have a heavy load to carry and has already begun by definitely adopting a left-wing agenda which I presume suits his co-partners in the Traffic Light Coalition – an increase in the minimum wage for 10 million people, increased welfare payments and increased payments for children and particularly those at the risk of poverty.

That all sounds very good for the new Chancellor, but of course it will be combined with his responsibilities as part of Europe. I wonder will he bring the common-sense attributes of Angela Merkel to bear on that. Time will tell.

Back home, there’s a huge race on to give the booster vaccine to everyone. I don’t know why there has been a delay in it because we had a very successful rollout of vaccine 1 and 2, but somehow there appeared to be hold-ups in the rollout of this booster.

This week will see, we hope, an acceleration in that programme and with it, as much as possible, a guarantee of severe immunity against this new mysterious variant.

There was wonderful rugby at the weekend, but unless you had Sky or BT Sports you didn’t get to see it. What a pity. I believe the Connacht game in particular was one of huge vim and strength. Connacht played Stade Francais in the Sportsground in Galway, the result being Connacht 36-Stade Francais 9.

So that opened their European Champions Cup campaign. The margin of victory was huge given Stade’s great reputation, so the Connacht team can take a bow. They got a bonus point with six tries to nil.

Connacht are the most amazing team. They can sometimes play pedestrian rugby, but when they get riled up and get into their stride, they really provide a wonderful game. Jack Carty was captain, and there is no doubt that, when in this role, his authority and rugby acumen permeates the whole play.

Leinster had a great win against Bath, with a score of 45-20. Again, we couldn’t see it. I tried to listen on radio and you would only get fragments of the game interspersed with fragments of results from other sports, so it was very much a mixed-up jumble, and I had to wait then until they gave the final result.

Then of course Munster played Wasps and really gave them a beating 35-14. Ulster had the tightest game: Ulster 29-Clermont 23. So it was winners all round for all the provinces in Ireland. Imagine, that wonderful weekend of rugby which we couldn’t view and be satisfied with.

Anyway, well done to Ireland as they start on the path of the Champions Cup. It seems to me, even from this early vantage point, that rugby is on an upward trend here in Ireland.

I had a lovely surprise at the weekend with a visit on Sunday from the Dublin O’Rourkes. They called in the morning and said they would be coming along, and there they were. So we had great discussions and chats, mostly about Christmas and sometimes about times past as well.

The loveliest event of all was last Saturday night when my two grandsons, James and Scott O’Rourke, came in to put up my small tree with all its baubles. It’s a job that James has done since he was very young, and this year Scott decided James needed a helper. So the two of them came in and in an hour they had the job done and all the decorations up in the living room. It was such a joy to chat with them as they went about their Christmas chores.

Then of course the man and his helper had to be recompensed in appropriate trade union terms, as I told them! So we had a lovely little celebration altogether.

It’s amazing how these little chores have now become a ritual with James and Scott and I’m sure in later years they will remember how they helped Grandma Mary with her Christmas tree, modest though it is, every year. Of course, their job is not done until they come in after the January 6 and take it all down again and store it away. Ah, the memories of all that.

As the readers will have noted, there has been a strong condemnation by the rugby players of Ireland for the way Irish women’s rugby is being conducted. They have made a very strong case to the IRFU and to Ministers Catherine Martin and Jack Chambers, the Junior Minister who seems to have full control over the sports arena. Both of them are intent upon clearing up whatever is amiss in this treatment by the IRFU, and we will definitely hear more about it.

So, Christmas is definitely coming and the radio and TV are awash with Christmas ads. Some of them are lovely and your eyes and ears would linger, and some of them are just dross.

I am beginning to feel a bit of a wind-down myself these few days. But I am thinking of you, the readers, and I hope that each of you, in your own way, will find peace and love in your Christmas interactions with your nearest and dearest. But above all, I hope that you keep to the ‘R.S.V.P.’ and respect and take note of your dealings and non-dealings with people.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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