MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Shining a light on teething topics at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

I’m well aware that when a columnist scrawls the words ‘Open Letter’ across one of his or her efforts, it’s a tacit acknowledgement of defeat.

That concept ran dry; that interview didn’t happen; that particular result didn’t fit into your thesis, baking quietly all week. You’re left with the last refuge of the column-wrying scoundrel. The open letter.

It’s not just wretches like yours truly who have to rely on this crutch. I sometimes think that if Martin Luther had come up with a wry, offbeat framing device for his issues with Catholicism, we’d never have had the Reformation: what were those 95 theses apart from the ultimate open letter?


To everyone in Páirc Uí Chaoimh:

Hi lads. I enjoyed the games the weekend before last. The rain held off and it wasn’t too cold, and even if it lashed and then froze I suppose I’d have to blame you for it. Just kidding.

A word of advice, though. The spat with the City Council over the lights, and the money to pay for the lights, and who’s responsible for what in the Pairc and environs? That isn’t a good look at all, in a week which saw some of the worst looks off the field that we’ve had for a long time.

Despite what you might think, I don’t look into my heart and read the wishes of my readers (if I could, and managed to see their opinion of me I think my hair would be a lot greyer).

From general observation and chatting, though, I detect a realism among the people who were in the stadium that evening. Anyone I was in contact with wasn’t enthused by the playing surface and the scoreboard, but they also know stuff like that gets sorted.

Should it be sorted already? Probably. But most people acknowledge that you’re going to have teething problems with a new facility.

I noticed a difference in people’s reactions to the lighting around the stadium, however. That didn’t go down well at all: tripping along in darkness in mud and across tree roots and uneven footpaths doesn’t seem to recommend itself to anybody.

And much as you’d love to say to people to get over themselves and take the possibility of a broken ankle as part of the overall experience of a night out, they have a point.

This is my suggestion: the next time there’s a night game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, put up some lights. Don’t rely on the municipal authority to look after that; do it yourself.

Don’t get hung up on the costs. Make the gesture. Whether that’s hiring floodlights or getting a helicopter to hover over the Monahan Road or getting volunteers to light the way with captured fireflies, do it and the value of doing it would ripple out in goodwill.

If you don’t, then the message that goes out to the people interested in going to games is a harsh one.

We don’t care what happens to you outside the walls of the stadium.

Picking arguments with the city authorities gives out all the wrong vibes, while creating a welcoming space around Páirc Uí Chaoimh would go a long way towards convincing people to visit the place. After all, people contributed enough to building it.

Best wishes.


PS: I’ll be in touch next week about the parking. And the showers.


Personal press officer neededto field awkward questions


Tackling mental health issues

I note that during the week a Scottish soccer pro, David Cox, told the BBC about his experiences with mental health issues — and the reactions of his opponents.

Cox, who plays for Forfar Athletic, told the broadcaster he’d attempted suicide and self-harmed in the past, adding: “I had fans shouting on the pitch to me shortly after I did my story, ‘go and hang yourself and do it right this time’.

“I’ve had other players mentioning me slitting my wrists and stuff.” So far, so depressing. What takes the biscuit is Cox’s description of what happens after some games, when players who’ve abused him about suicide get in touch: “I’ve had them apologising and messaging me after games and stuff.

“What makes it even worse is that they will say things like ‘I’m really sorry, I had a mate who killed himself through mental health’, and I’m like ‘why would you even mention that?’.”

When you trip across the occasional Neanderthal suggesting players ‘man up’, this is the perfect riposte. The player who abuses an opponent who’s been open about mental health issues — and then apologises later because of friends who’ve been in similar situations.

Puzzle that one out if you can.


Jealousy definitely not an enviable destination


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