Saturday 24 February 2018

Taoiseach's EU duties triumph over Mayo semi-final

Mayo fan Enda Kenny
Mayo fan Enda Kenny
John Downing

John Downing

Mayo footballers will line out on Saturday in the All-Ireland semi-final in Limerick without the presence of an ardent and long-standing fan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny cannot attend as he will be representing Ireland at a series of EU meetings in Brussels.

Some key decisions are to be made on appointments which could impact on his long-time ally and Irish commissioner designate, Phil Hogan.

Mr Kenny (pictured inset) is a lifetime Mayo supporter and has very rarely missed a big game.

His father, Henry Kenny, was one of that rare species - a Mayo captain who lifted the Sam Maguire Cup back in 1936, the first of only three All-Ireland wins for the county, the last of which was in 1951 - the year of the Taoiseach's birth.

The Taoiseach himself was a noted local player, winning county medals with his club, Islandeady.

But on Saturday he meets EU Christian Democrat leaders on his way to a dinner meeting and summit of all 28 government heads.

He must rely upon trusty aides to keep him up to date with the game in Limerick.

"International obligations were always going to clash with the Taoiseach's love of his native Mayo and football at some stage and this is unavoidable. Arrangements will be made to keep Mr Kenny informed about the game without unduly distracting him from the meetings," one official told the Irish Independent.

The EU leaders will try to agree on the new EU foreign affairs commissioner and the person to chair leaders' summits for the coming five years. These decisions will have a knock-on effect on Mr Hogan's efforts to secure a post of influence within the new 28-member commission. The last big game the Taoiseach missed was the 2011 Connacht final in Roscommon town.

At the time he cited the need to visit his children in the Gaeltacht, but the match was picketed by protesters complaining about the downgrading of Roscommon Hospital.

Mayo beat Roscommon on that occasion by two points.

Some Mayo fans travelling to Limerick may hope it's a good omen for Saturday.

Irish Independent

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