It’s a hard one to answer, not helped by people sometimes omitting the word ‘working’ from the question, but I can sometimes give them a snapshot of a day that’s not untypical, if that makes sense.
Take last Thursday.
Up early and on the road to Waterford. On the way down a lot of talk about Mick Wallace TD and his VAT travails. Wallace came across my radar a couple of years ago — again on the radio — when a gentle interviewer brought up his involvement with Wexford Youths soccer team, particularly as Wexford would be well known for hurling — “Do they still play hurling in Wexford?” said Wallace.
Okay, so presumably a tongue-in-cheek comment, and the Wexford hurling community can mind itself. But it was a surprisingly charmless comment. Or maybe unsurprisingly charmless given Wallace’s ‘Miss Piggy’ comment about a fellow TD.
Either way, Wallace and his issues were diverting enough until I swept into The Holy Cross by Butlerstown to meet Ken McGrath, former player and now selector with the Waterford senior hurlers, a man too polite to comment on the vast mountain of scrambled eggs I was working my way through when he arrived.
Over the course of our conversation he commented on the economy too, but not in reference to Mick Wallace. At a press event last week held in Dublin’s Bord Gáis Theatre, McGrath said he couldn’t help but notice the businesses nearby.
“A tapas bar,” he said. “A sushi bar. A kind of fresh fruit and vegetable market. The kinds of businesses that wouldn’t have a hope of surviving in Waterford the way things are. It mightn’t sound much but it made me wonder if people in Dublin have a handle on how the downturn is hitting places around the country. That’s why I was talking about ticket prices last week. I know it’s not a bed of roses in Dublin either, but you couldn’t compare it to Waterford, or to a lot of places. There’s a recession in Dublin, but it’s a depression down here.”
On the way back to Cork afterwards, talking to the office about the Jerry Wallace situation in Antrim.
(Full disclosure: Jerry is an honourable man and a good friend of mine.) Comments he’d made to The Irish News were causing a stir, not least the suggestion that he had contacted panellists from The Sunday Game asking them to ‘deflate’ the seriousness of a situation involving an Antrim player. It may be a sign of my moral deterioration but I had to wonder what the fuss was about regarding that revelation. The pundits are just that — pundits. They’re not on the CCCC, or the DRA. They don’t hand down sentences or dish out suspensions. They’re in the entertainment business just like the rest of us.
There may be a sense abroad that once somebody strokes their chin on The Sunday Game and says, well, yes, there may be a case to answer here, that that’s enough for a GAA functionary to begin typing up the charge sheet, but it is the functionary who brings the charge, not the panellist.
It’s completely understandable that RTÉ is sensitive about editorial independence and so forth given recent developments with Prime Time Investigates. Every media outlet trumpets its independence. But every media outlet also gets phone calls from irate players, furious managers and unhappy officials about its coverage.
A couple of years after The Sunday Game kicked off, a cabinet minister was trying to get through to the president of the country — on the phone — to ask him not to dissolve the Dáil. But we’re supposed to be surprised that a pundit on a sports show might get rung by a manager?
On the way back to Cork traffic was surprisingly heavy going through Killeagh — or slow until the signs with ‘funeral parking’ became visible. Thursday was the funeral of Tadgh Coleman, the 15-year-old Killeagh GAA player who died suddenly last week.
There were Cork and Killeagh GAA jackets visible among those sitting on the low wall by The Old Thatch on the way into the village, but this isn’t the place for trite formulae about the GAA’s part in the community. The Coleman family’s loss is too raw for that.
Suffice to say that their son was in the thoughts of a lot of people who passed through their home place last Thursday; people who never met Tadgh but who caught a glimpse of the esteem he was held in when they saw the crowds which assembled to mourn his passing.
That was Thursday.
On Friday, Jerry Wallace resigned as Antrim hurling manager.
Also on Friday, we learned that Mick Wallace was planning to go to the European Championships to watch a few games.
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