It’s hard to believe but, apparently, it is absolutely true that mothers of soccer players in the Under-9 leagues in four counties have been shown the ‘red card’ by their local Schoolboy Leagues Committee.

It used to be stage-mothers who were over ambitious for their offspring but, these days, soccer stardom is now the preferred aim for fame-hungry mammies and, according to the FAI, the mothers of Under-9 and Under-10 youngsters are the worst.

Aware of the problem at national level, the FAI has instigated a new initiative called ‘Don’t Cross the Line’. It is designed to protect the children from abuse, bad language and unnecessary pressure from parents and mentors but, so far, only four leagues in the country have adopted its measures. As far as I am aware, Waterford is not one of the four but that could mean that Deise mammies have a more gentle nature than their counterparts elsewhere.

It seems many mothers behave as if they have their very own Premiership stars out on the pitch. But, from now on, such parents are being asked to stay behind special tape barriers. The behaviour of parents and mentors will be monitored by officials and any bad language or aggressive behaviour will be marked on the team’s card and taken into account when the its overall standing is being calculated.

A spokesperson for schoolboy soccer said, when it came to aggression, bad language and racist remarks, the Under-9s and 10s and their parents were the worse of all with the ambitious mothers trying to turn their little darlings into a Rooney or a Ronaldo. “If they want to indulge in that behaviour, they should go home and shout at the television but leave their children alone because all they want to do is play football and have fun”, insisted the spokesperson. Quite right too.

Congratulations to WLRfm

Congratulations to all concerned at WLRfm on being named ‘Local Radio Station of the Year’ at last weekend’s PPI Awards held in Kilkenny. Well done also to their regional colleagues at Beat102fm who deservedly scooped some individual awards. It has been a long but successful road for WLRfm since Des and Ricky Whelan first started broadcasting from a gate-house near their family home at Kilotteran over twenty years ago. In the intervening period, there were many popular presenters on the station that are no longer ‘on air’ for a variety of reasons but, no doubt, they will be celebrating too because victory in any All Ireland is a culmination of all that has gone before in the build-up to the top.

GAA storm-clouds gathering in Limerick

The GAA community in Limerick, and especially those involved with senior hurling, are in for stormy time over the next few weeks.

The cause of the gathering storm is a hard-hitting book, due to be published this Saturday, entitled ‘Unlimited Heartbreak: The Inside Story of Limerick Hurling’ by local author, Henry Martin. It will be launched by the man who has pumped millions of euro into Limerick hurling, JP McManus, although there is no suggestion that Mr McManus has had anything to do with the contents.

For a start, some County Board officials are referred to as ‘scumbags’ by a former team manager, Tom Ryan. The drinking culture that was once allegedly present in the senior squad is exposed. The book tells how a post-match drinking session by members of the senior hurling panel was the catalyst that led to the end of goalkeeper Joe Quaid’s career.

There are contributions from most of Limerick’s famous names although there are notable absences of people who didn’t want to give their account of various episodes. The book also deals extensively with the defeat by Offaly in the 1994 All Ireland Hurling Final, a disappointment that still leaves deep scar tissue on Shannonside. I would say that, for a time, it will be a case of ouch!, ouch! and more ouch!

A tough talking Judge

In recent months a new bunch of District Judges have arrived on the scene and it will be interesting to follow their careers because some of them seem to have very definite views about the way life should be in our communities.

In Cavan District Court last week, Judge Sean McBride caused quite a stir when he addressed the town’s thugs and troublemakers telling the boyos their time was up. “I know exactly what is going on here and I intend clearing this town of all gangs and individual trouble makers before next St Patrick’s Day”, he said.

Comparing his crusade to the time that General Grant took over the US Union army and when General Sherman went down through Georgia, Judge McBride he would have every last gang member picked up so they could forget about making boasts on their Bebo sites about their exploits. “I know what I have to do and if I have to whip you all into submission, I will. I’ll give you all a good dose of reality”, he warned.

Judge McBride also warned anybody due before the court not to even think about intimidating witnesses. “The gardai have my full authority to seek an immediate warrant of information from me and I will direct that such people be arrested forthwith and held in custody until their trial takes place. And you can take it, I will not be granting bail”, he said.

A man, a dog and a boy

The following story, I promise, is true. A well known man, who we will call Billy, regularly walks his dog through Waterford city in the evenings and he was often joined in his stroll by his young son. Most nights they would pass by a man who was, as they say, ‘a martyr to the drink’ and they would often slip him a little money. Then the ‘knight of the road’ got sick and went missing for the best part of a year during which time Billy’s son reached an age when it wasn’t cool for a young dude to be seen walking with his father and his dog.

But, to Billy’s delight, his grandson asked if he could accompany him on his strolls and off they would go most evenings after tea. One night last week, the ‘knight of the road’, restored to health, was back on his usual perch and, as before, asked Billy if he had any spare change. Pleased to see the man again, Billy passed over a couple of euro and was moving away when his ‘friend’ called him back.

“Listen, Billy”, he said, “thanks again for the few bob and I’m glad to say your little dog is looking well. But I’m really sorry for your troubles about the young fella. God love him, it’s smaller he’s getting instead of bigger.”