Cormac MacConnell: Soccer star or farmer, danger in every job

A couple of disjointed points to make this week.  First, because of a farm accident at the weekend involving a wise old friend of many years, can I begin by mentioning the PTO, or PTOs, in your farmyard.

As a non-farmer, I have only a vague enough idea of what a PTO looks like.

But, sadly, about any time I hear mention of it, it is in relation to the kind of accidents which have landed my friend in hospital, as you read.

As I understand it from the family, his life is not in imminent danger now.

He could, however, have been fatally injured in the morning incident, and I gather he will be lucky enough if the medical folk manage to save his right arm.

I hope strongly that they do because, though it is an incidental matter just now, he has been a mighty accordion player all his life, and has been the life and soul of many the session.

I last enjoyed his music at the All Ireland Fleadh in Ennis a few months ago.

I hope he will be able to be back in full action soon, both on the farm and making music at the weekends.

I think maybe the perennial threat posed by PTOs in farmyards featured in a recent farm safety campaign nationally.

I know that these yokes maim, and even kill, when not enough care is taken in their operation.

My friend is not the first case I am aware of.

I have reported on far too many fatalities and serious injuries down the years involving PTOs.

They clearly can be lethal, and equally clearly, should always be handled and operated with great care by all.

Are they somehow sanitised a bit by the usage of the mere initials, relating to the transmission of such raw power from one instrument to another?

You could use the same letters to call them Potentially Terrible Objects, and the usage of them as Potentially Tragic Operations.

In a nutshell, for your own welfare, be careful next time you go within an ass’s roar of one. The real truth, yet again.

Moving on now, to another hospital bed, this time in Barcelona.

After a busy sporting weekend in all the major codes, I am fascinated by the fact that a leading soccer star in England named Jesus, a native of Brazil, I think, has been laid low for the next couple of months, by a single broken bone in his foot.

I saw him being injured, and he was well able to walk off the pitch, before being taken away to hospital.

My farmer friend, despite the best efforts of that PTO, will probably be out playing jigs and reels again before Mr Jesus feels he is able to kick a ball.

It is clear to me, in all the codes, that they don’t make the same kind of footballers today that they used to.

As he was being doctored in Spain, yet another raft of our own Gaelic footballers and hurlers were announcing they were retiring because of their injuries.

Almost all of them were complaining about either their hamstrings or their crucial ligaments, and most of them were in their early thirties only, the years in which, decades ago, players were only coming into their prime.

I played club football and so did many of you reading this, back in the decades when nobody knew at all what a hamstring was, never mind a cruciate ligament or that yoke called a metatarsal .

Back then, strong men who had suffered a hurt in the first half of a parish derby just said they had a bad knee or leg, smoked a cigarette and drank water at half time, and then went out again and did trojan work for their parish and club in the second half.

They would not know what a hamstring was that time and, in later years, they were not crippled by their hurts either.

In the summers of the late 1950s, throughout the North West, there was a craze for Old Crocks Matches at the annual carnivals, and those good men and true stripped out again, in their forties and fifties, and provided the best of sport for all. The pure truth, yet again.

I fancy Mr Jesus with that small broken bone in his foot is earning about €200,000 for each week that he is lying up in his hospital bed in Barcelona.

For sure he won’t need to go anywhere near a farmyard with a PTO near his shins for the rest of his life. Don’t be distracted by that harsh reality of a sharply divided world, the next time you use a PTO.

cormacseamus101@gmail.com



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