MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Wild swing at the Áras flies out of bounds

Presidential candidate Peter Casey

I didn’t pay that much attention to the Ryder Cup, which I believe thrashed itself out in nicely creased slacks all across the weekend. Homework off and half-days from school await, writes Michael Moynihan

This is not because of an antipathy towards golf. Nor is it because I haven’t gotten excited about an intercontinental sports clash since the Gondwana-Laurasia face-offs of the early Cretaceous.

That used to be my high-water mark when it came to such encounters, or perhaps the whole Atlantis against Hy-Brasil in the Mystic Atlantic championship at a time that exists only when Brigadoon arises out of the mist, or Asgard versus The Shire, but they have all been superseded by the big one: Europe v USA.

Sarcasm aside, the reason I didn’t pay that much attention to the Ryder Cup is because I was out and about on Saturday. I did hear, though, that Europe was/were in the lead at about the same time that I heard about Peter Casey.

Not Paul Casey, who is a professional golfer, but Peter Casey, the man who is running for President of Ireland. At least he was, until he sank his own campaign with one stroke over the weekend, and ‘stroke’ is a word I introduce with quite a lot of satisfaction.

If you missed it, Casey took to social media to post a video clip of himself hitting a golf ball into the ocean. The message? ‘This is the only ‘driver’ I’ll be bringing to the Áras when I get elected.’ So much to unpack. So, so much.

It isn’t just the clip of film, Casey chirping away about his golf club as though it’s a favourite appendage, or one of his more beloved internal organs, in the curious piping voice recognisable everywhere as golf-talk. The effortfully modest tone, straining for self-effacement but not quite reaching it, is well known to all of us, God bless the mark. It isn’t just the hitting a ball into the ocean part of the clip either, though many people were surprised and disappointed that a man seeking civic office should be so cavalier when it comes to the environment.

It was handy, mind you, that said candidate should suggest by his actions that that environment exists only to facilitate his long game.

It wasn’t even the veiled dig at the incumbent, Michael D. Higgins, who has shown a sureness of touch when it comes to sport — as noted in this column before — that suggests something specific. Namely, that whatever about his actual political views, in his sporting interests, Higgins resembles a human being more accurately than some of his current opponents.

The comparison with Casey and his golf swing, therefore, could hardly be more marked.

There’s a whole hinterland of toxic comparisons which roll out here. The profile of golf generally got a shot of adrenaline the weekend before last with Tiger Woods’ victory at the Tour Championship, and many a middle-aged fan paid tribute to Woods’ ‘comeback’ win. Maybe aligning himself with a resurgent sport was Casey’s intention.

However, as Dave Hannigan, a friend of this column, pointed out, Woods overcoming a long-term relationship with a steroid-peddling doctor and an addiction to sex with strippers is hardly on a par with Ben Hogan’s return to competitive action from a near-fatal car crash.

I was struggling to remember what Casey’s clip reminded me of specifically, until it came to me: the opening of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, when then-President George Bush addresses the media at a golf course: “I call on all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings,” before adding: “Now watch this drive.” Fore!

Becks facing his greatest opponent

Hold everything.

David Beckham is going bald.

Forget the free-kicks and red cards, this news is beyond sport. The man who pioneered a thousand clothing styles first came to prominence in the annals of fashion for his bazzers, after all.

Remember the top knot? The blond streaky look? The clean shave? The early Brylcreem endorsements?

Well, Becks is now approaching a state which Joyce described beautifully in A Portrait: Nothing between himself and heaven.

At least he was a while back. All praise to Men’s Health magazine for pointing out the thinning pastures of a couple of weeks ago are now luxuriant grassland once more, which has led to suspicion.

Has Beckham gotten a transplant? Does that beanie-hat addiction now make more sense? If the great man is thinning out, is there hope for any of us any more?

Lough a template worth following

Went to Ballyphehane last Saturday for a GAA blitz, and it need hardly be said that the event was run superbly well.

While I was there I got chatting to a couple of former teammates, who both mentioned Redmonds - and who then mentioned Lough Rovers, a club of equal age and stature to the sporting Reds.

Both pointed out that the Lough have overcome similar challenges - a shrinking population, nearby superclubs, vanishing underage section - by being proactive. By selling their old premises and becoming functional in their storage needs off the field, and by recruiting aggressively on the field (not exactly, but you get the message).

Lough Rovers are in good health as a result: competitive at their level and engaged in the sharp end of their championships.

The point was made to me on Saturday that there are players available in the city for a social level of hurling and Gaelic football if there’s a will to find them and a willingness to facilitate their transfers. Hence Lough Rovers.

Hence, potentially, Redmonds.

Barry roams the land

The mini-orgy of book spending is over, and much like (please don’t mention real orgies — ed)... anyway, now is a time for reflection.

Among the books I got was a collection of Pete Dexter’s pieces and columns. Dexter wrote Paris Trout but was a columnist for years until he got his back broken when he and heavyweight contender Randall Cobb got attacked in a bar because... haven’t reached that yet but I’m looking forward to it. Kind of.

It’s not always a good idea to get a collection of newspaper columns. What suits in daily doses can be less appealing in book form for all sorts of reasons — tone, preoccupations, recurring tricks.

Abandon any such caveat, though, when it comes to my book of the week. Dan Barry wrote the This Land column for years for The New York Times, roaming the US and sketching unforgettable pictures of ordinary people.

This Land: America, Lost And Found collects these pieces. The second one in the book is an account of Resha Kane being accompanied to the airport as she heads off to serve in the US Army in Iraq at the age of 18. Barry’s brief, unadorned account of Kane’s conversation with her father before he leaves that morning for work will have you clearing your throat a couple of times. A master at work.

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