A MEATHMAN'S DIARY: This Sporting Life .... how the big events can resonate

Story by John Donohoe

Saturday, 25th May, 2019 5:35pm

A MEATHMAN'S DIARY: This Sporting Life .... how the big events can resonate

Mag, John and Mary Donohoe, circa 1980.

Last Sunday week saw Leinster fail in their bid to win the European Rugby Champions Cup for the fifth time. They lost to London side Saracens in St James Park, Newcastle.
I couldn’t tell you who Leinster beat in their previous three cup wins, but I can remember the first one clearly, and I’m amazed at how time has flown since that Saturday evening in May 2009.
Leinster were playing Leicester in Murrayfield, in their first ever Heineken Cup appearance, and there was great excitement. Our own Shane Horgan was a star player in the blue jersey at the time.
My reason for remembering it is that we listened to the game in the car radio on the way over to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where our grandmother had been admitted the previous Saturday, and where it looked like she was now preparing to depart this life.
It’s funny how a number of sporting events stand out in my mind from that week. Earlier in the week, as we travelled over and back to the hospital, a new young amateur golfing talent was revealed when Shane Lowry from Offaly won the Irish Open at Baltray, just up the road from Drogheda.
In dreadful weather conditions, he sunk the winning putt on the third extra playoff hole against a sodden Robert Rock. It was great to see him winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Tournament earlier this year, picking up a cheque for €1 million – a far cry from Baltray!
Golf was topical that week. Jack Nicklaus had just opened the new course at Killeen Castle the day before the granny took ill. She had celebrated her 99th birthday in the clubhouse there the previous October. 
Later that night, Nicklaus was on the Late Late show with Pat Kenny, when he presented him with a golf club.
“What good is one golf club?” the granny declared, her wits clearly still about her.
Mag enjoyed her sport – horseracing mainly. Any time we were going to the Grand National in Fairyhouse, a few pound would be sent to put on a horse, usually whatever Ruby Walsh was on (although one of my sisters says she followed Tony McCoy!). She had ridden herself in equestrian events at local shows as a young woman, and followed showjumpers like Paul Darragh, Eddie Macken and Captain Con Power. She was delighted when Robbie Power, son of Con, won the Aintree Grand National in 2007 on Silver Birch.

She had kept dogs for Johnny Cantwell of Navan greyhound fame, and also followed cycling when my father was competing in the 1960s. 
Mag did pass away on that Saturday evening 10 years ago, 23rd May. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday the following October. On her birthday, 18th October, we planted a tree in the garden  - a silver birch, in her memory. I only realise how quickly time has flown when I look at the height it has grown.
 

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