Ireland finished in joint-26th place in the medals table at the European Athletics Championships in Munich.

We mentioned the gold of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy in the men’s lightweight double sculls last week, while the women’s coxless four of Natalie Long, Aifric Keogh, Tara Hanlon and Eimear Lambe picked up silver, as did 1500m runner Ciara Mageean.

Mark English was the other Irish medallist, winning bronze in the 800m.

Ireland were level with Serbia in the medals table, below countries like Lithuania, Slovenia and Norway. There were 37 competing countries, so is joint-26th good or bad?

In truth, I couldn’t say with any certainty, because we don’t have a lot of context to go on.


Major televised athletics events tend to pop up on our screens and receive blanket coverage for a week or so every two years but, beyond that, the various disciplines only exist in the periphery of public consciousness.

There are of course some excellent journalists covering athletics – Cathal Dennehy is a stand-out – but with so much else vying for attention it can often be quite hard for the stories of the athletes to be heard.

Four medals for Ireland probably seems scant, but then consider the work that went in to securing even one – and the work put in by the athletes who tried but didn’t manage to end up on a podium.

They may well have done their best, or they may have under-performed on the big day. The average punter doesn’t really know, and their opinion might depend on their world-view – from the Roy Keane ‘anything less than first is failure’ to the acceptable thought that being there is an achievement.

On RTÉ, for instance, Sonia O’Sullivan and Derval O’Rourke were critical of the sixth-place finish for the Ireland women’s 400m relay team and, given that they follow things closely, we can take it that they felt there was the potential for more. But then, sixth in Europe doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

We’ll admit to a personal failing in not knowing more about those competing for Ireland and their chances of glory, but the broadcasters could also provide a wider range of coverage. CL

What’s in

a name?

I recently attended a wedding that stretched out over two weekends.

Don’t feel too sorry for me – it was my brother James’s nuptials to Ruth O’Connor from Ballyheigue. Ruth’s parents Joseph and Hannah are loyal Farmers Journal readers, so she comes from good stock.

Among the guests in Courtmacsherry last Saturday week was Jamie Wall – manager of the Kilbrittain hurling team on which James plays – and his partner, Orla Ryan from Tipperary. Borrisoleigh, to be precise.

When I heard this, I had to wheel out a question I’ve often wondered, namely why there appeared to be an inconsistency between the usage of Borrisoleigh and Borris-Ileigh.

However, Orla is a student of history and was able to tell me that, while the village and parish is Borrisoleigh, in 1948 the local hurling club had merged with a neighbouring side called Ileigh (pronounced ‘Eily’). It was good to have our curiosity sated.

There are some other unusual ones from around the country, such as Harbour Rovers Hurling Club in North Cork. Now, if you’re thinking that you’ve never heard of the long inlet that stretches all the way from the sea up to Glanworth, that’s because it doesn’t exist.

A few years back, a conversation with club member Paul Cotter provided us with some background, though.

“The most acceptable story is that the area was famous for what were known as “the three trees of Glanworth”, or even more grandly, an arbour,” he said.

“It was a fairly popular meeting spot – you’d say to someone that you’d meet them ‘up the arbour’ and really it’s the only logical explanation that it came from that.

“There is an estate in Glanworth now which is called Arbour Mews, so the name still survives to some extent.

“The club has been around since the 1940s and, as far as I can see, it was always Harbour Rovers in hurling. Back then, it probably suited clubs to have two separate affiliations.

“The exact reason as to how the ‘h’ at the front came to be grafted on is lost in the mists of time, though.”

The name of Shelmaliers in Wexford comes from the eight ancient baronies in the Model County, while Fighting Cocks of Carlow originated from the public house of the same name.

Dublin’s Man o’War is another based on a pub name, believed to come from the ‘Turk’s Head’ carving outside the pub, from a shipwreck.

They are only the tip of a large iceberg, so let’s open it to the floor – what is the best GAA club name and, just as importantly, how did it come about? CL

Have your say at

Third time’s a charm for McStay

Kevin McStay – who spoke to Irish Country Living last year as the GAA prepared to vote on a new football championship system – was the only candidate for the role of Mayo senior football manager, yet didn’t get the job. Twice.

His book, The Pressure Game primarily focuses on his time in charge of Roscommon but gives an insight into the past.

He notes how, in 1995 at the age of 33, he turned up to a county board meeting expecting to be unveiled – he had even put together a few notes for a speech – only for a delegate to propose that the appointment be delayed, a motion immediately passed. John Maughan was ultimately appointed.

Then, in 2014, after James Horan’s first stint came to an end, McStay met senior figures from Mayo County Board but felt that the mood turned against him when he presented figures for the budget required for his backroom team.

Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes became joint-managers. Eight years on – 27 since he was first the front-runner – McStay has been given the top job in his native county.

He has had success as boss, guiding Roscommon Gaels and St Brigid’s to the county title in Roscommon, going on to take Brigid’s to Connacht and All-Ireland glory, while he won provincial championships with Mayo at U21 level and Roscommon at senior.

This is the one he always wanted and there is no doubt that he will be primed and ready to do the absolute best he can with it. We wish him all the best. CL