Wednesday 29 January 2020

Have your say

Enda lacks his father's bottle
In Mayo, we adore our footballers. The best ones are never forgotten for their deeds by the loyal supporters. Seán Flanagan, captain of the glorious 1950/51 All-Ireland-winning team (the guys we yearly try to emulate since), went on to be a TD, Minister and for good measure we then made him a European MP.

Before Seán came another giant. The great Henry Kenny and his cohorts trailblazed across the GAA firmament. Henry himself was on the first Mayo team to win an All-Ireland where he anchored midfield. In addition, Kenny won seven league winner's medals. WW2 stopped him and Mayo from adding to that haul. Clearly this man was a colossus on the pitch.

A former Kerry opponent once told of how he was instructed to sort out Henry. A low blow did the deed and as the Mayo water and sponge man tended to the stricken Kenny, he called across to his Kerry opponent and asked him, "Why did you do that to me". The Kerry man looked at the ground, angry, ashamed, and silent. What followed next rooted him to the pitch. "I wouldn't have done that to you," said the stricken Mayo hero.

The effect on the Kerry man was such that he failed to catch a single ball after and went to his grave telling that story. In the early 1980s, I was on the periphery of a group who was in the company of Enda Kenny. I found him a humble, decent and funny man who was great crack and up for the laugh. I find it hard to reconcile the man who inhabits high office today and who presided over a brutish budget as that same man.

This is the man who saw that a flunkey got a salary in excess of a €100K but also saw the phone and death allowance swept from the Irish aged. This man has also condemned a further generation of Irish young to emigration with that same budget. Shades of Brian Lenihan Snr: "We are an island and some of us have to go."

Would that old Mayo captain and warhorse Henry Kenny have gone back to Belmullet and told the old folk that the phone and death allowance was gone? Would King Henry have sought a salary for an adviser four times the working man's wages?

I would like to think that the man who asked his Kerry opponent the above would have said "hang on lads, there is a better way of doing this".

Enda reaped the great Henry's crop, it is a pity that he doesn't display the great man's compassion.

J Cuffe

Conlon clearly doesn't get it

While I have no intention of rallying to the cause of Kilkenny hurling, Tommy Conlon – a journalist I admire – ruined his defence last Sunday with one line that totally undermined his arguments: "I don't care enough [about hurling] one way or another, to either love or hate".

It illustrates that he just doesn't get it. For those of us who love hurling, it's more than just watching it on TV or writing an occasional column . . . it's part of life itself. Tommy had written that 'his world doesn't revolve around hurling'. Whether by accident or design, his first opinion piece managed to alienate thousands of hurling followers whose lives do revolve around the great game. That he 'doesn't care' totally removes the ground from under his feet and brings into question the reasons for penning the column in the first place.

M Finn

Ribot the real gold standard

Your racing correspondent Ian McClean, in seeking "greatness" in racehorses, in last week's edition went on to hold that "Sea Bird is commonly held as the ultimate gold standard for the thoroughbred in modern times and his Arc victory is eternally etched in our memories – in celluloid – as most of us were not present then to witness it in 1965".

While it is beyond doubt that Sea Bird was an exceptional racehorse, as his six-length victory in the 1965 Arc bears out, his overall record of seven wins and a second in eight races, pales in comparison to that of the great Italian bred and trained horse Ribot, which remained undefeated in all his 16 races, which included winning the Arc in both 1955 and 1956, the latter by a then record of six lengths. Contemporary reports stated that "the bare verdict gave little idea of the brilliant way in which Ribot won – he was never out of the first three, always on the bit and when his Italian rider Camaci asked him to win his race three furlongs from home, he left the remainder of the field standing and finished full of running."

Honourable mention must also be made to the Vincent O'Brien-trained Alleged, which, with Lester Piggott in the saddle, won the Arc in 1977 and again in 1978 and in doing so became the first dual winner of the Arc since Ribot. His record of nine wins in ten races (beaten only by Dunfermline in the St Leger) earned him a Timeform rating of 138.

J Healy

Sunday Independent

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