The group Tompkins himself was part of will meet again in a couple of weeks’ time for a lunch in the Rochestown Park Hotel, quarter of a century after they made their own breakthrough in the All-Ireland football decider of 1989.
Against Mayo, as it happens.
Barry Coffey, the hardworking wing-forward on that side, explains the motivation behind reuniting.
“It’s 25 years since we won the All-Ireland, obviously, and we thought it might be good to get together.
“What we’re doing is having a lunch in the Rochestown Park Hotel, a fund-raising lunch, and the proceeds all go to the Marymount Hospice.”
There’s a mass in the hotel the same morning beforehand for two of the panellists who died long before their time, John Kerins and Michael McCarthy.
The original panel of 25 got their orders and have been hard at work for the last couple of weeks: each was tasked with selling a table for the lunch, and when we spoke Coffey told me that over 30 tables had already been booked, with a dozen left.
“We’ve had a great reaction, and we’re hoping to sell the last few tables. The corporate support has been good from the likes of Barry’s Tea, Musgrave’s and a few more. Almost everyone is going from the panel apart from Colm O’Neill, who’s out in Boulder, Colorado, but apart from that we’d hope everyone will be there.”
The lunch is in the Rochestown Park Hotel on September 5.
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Albert Reynolds passed away during the week, as you’re no doubt aware. The former Taoiseach occasioned one of the few outbreaks of conscience I suffered when working in Dáil Eireann, and sport was involved. Of course.
Our club had launched a major fundraising drive, with £30 tickets the order of the day: that sum was considerable then, in 1996, and gave one pause before putting the arm on a TD or senator to “buy a line”.
The legislators of the country were generally good for a quid or a fiver, obviously, but 30? That pause didn’t hold me back at one of the Christmas parties held in Leinster House, mind. I put the arm on a man who would soon be Taoiseach — he paid in cash, too — and a couple of other marks made extravagant promises about their intentions to buy several tickets, extravagant promises which, alas, were never put into action.
The party was getting into what was a considerable swing — it may have been the particular event at which a senior minister broke a bone near the ankle carrying out a complicated dance manoeuvre — when I returned from the loo, flushed with success at having sold one of the tickets.
I came against Albert Reynolds, heading out of the party, the two of us alone in the corridor.
My hand was already in my pocket, pulling out the tickets, when I stopped. That was around the time that Albert had taken a libel case against The Sunday Times which he’d won — only to be awarded a penny in damages and left on the hook for a considerable legal bill, estimated then at around a cool million.
I shook hands with Albert and wished him a happy Christmas, and he said the same and was on his way. It was the only occasion on which I showed any mercy in the halls of power. If my memory serves me, I headed back into the party, only to be knocked back in my ticket sales by another senior politician, a man whose father was involved with our club, which didn’t go down well either with me or older members of the club, when they learned of this faux pas.
Ah, the 90s. It’s like none of that ever happened, isn’t it?
The terrible death of journalist James Foley during the week has reverberated around the world, and one of the ripples it sent relates to the US President, Barack Obama, playing golf.
Obama sympathised with the family of Foley and addressed the issue of global terrorism before heading out on a round of golf at Vineyard Golf Club with friends.
Soon afterwards, there were images in the media of Obama enjoying himself out on the course, even hitting a fist-bump or two with his golf partners.
The reaction to Obama’s scheduling was strong and negative, with the White House offering a limp explanation that recreation helps to clear the mind.
Even allowing for the inherent hostility and opposition to Obama from many partisan elements of the US media, the decision to hit the links seemed at best tone-deaf and at worst brutally insensitive.
The immediate comparison was with his predecessor, George Bush, back in 2002: if you’re not familiar with this it’s worth looking up on YouTube.
Bush addresses the media about the need for all nations to combat terrorists before inviting the assembled reporters to “watch this drive” and teeing off.
The easy out here would be to pour your scorn on golf as the outlet of the inappropriate: it’s clearly the outlet of those in the White House. Going back to Eisenhower, it’s hard to think of a US President who hasn’t, by virtue of the age profile of those who make it to the top, used it as his sport of preference.
Why not? It’s restful, you get out into the fresh air without having to shake too many hands, and if you want to cheat on your score, then who’s going to complain?
It’s because of the therapeutic nature of the game, I think, that Bush and Obama come across as insensitive in those actions: even the entire pantomime of getting changed to play, chatting about the forthcoming round — or “yukking it up”, to use an unsympathetic phrase about Obama’s game — point up the carefree couple of hours available to the president, in contrast to the hell being endured by James Foley’s relatives and friends.
The fact that it’s all in the out-of-doors makes it worse instead of better, because it’s an operative part of the hypocrisy involved in the faux-outrage from some commentators.
They know if Obama — or Bush, in his time — had made their remarks and then retired indoors to use an Xbox or watch a college basketball game on TV, who would be the wiser?
Staying in America, I see the North American County Board Championships of the GAA are going on in Boston at the end of this month, with over 2,500 people expected to land into the area for the games.
At some point in the future, I intend to return to my brief inglorious career playing Gaelic games in the new land, one in which I missed open goals in at least three states and on two coasts. A brief preview?
Why certainly: how about the time I came in to teach a class wearing a three-inch gash through my eyebrow? It was a stray boot the day before, but that Monday was the morning after the St Patrick’s weekend...
“Hey, Mr Moynihan,” said one of the lads in the class. “Acting out The Quiet Man again, huh?”