THE CHEQUERED FLAG GOES UP FOR THE ‘BIG D’:
In the company of some of the sporting greats, Derek McMahon once featured on the popular ITV programme ‘This is Your Life’.
Not as the star guest – though for he all did for motor sport he could just well have been – but as part of the tribute entourage to one of Formula 1’s high fliers, Eddie Jordan.
In his book ‘An Independent Man’, Jordan recalls the show and lists the personalities who came along to acknowledge his own contribution to sport on wheels.
In third place on that list, he mentions ‘the Big D’, ahead of the likes of Eddie Irvine, champion jockey Richard Dunwoody, former footballer and manager, David O’Leary, golfers Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood and some of the great and the good of the musical world, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, Chris Rea, and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.
Earlier in the book, Jordan reflects on his own involvement in the British F3 Championship when he raced for “the Donegal oil baron” – his description – Derek McMahon.
One of the great characters in this or any other sport has sadly undertaken his final lap but what a journey. There are many who owe their success in the sport to the man from Milford – not least one of this country’s track stars, Derek Daly. “Hard to grasp that my friend and mentor has gone. Rest in peace, big man,” he tweeted.
The ‘Big D’ quite literally put motor sport on the road in his own native county as a founding member of the Donegal Motor Club – and President up to his until passing at the weekend – and an inspiration behind the Donegal International Car Rally (the fact that it was, and is, an international event undoubtedly owes much to Derek’s connections far and beyond this island).
And not the only sport he loaned his dedication to during his lifetime. He attended the first meeting of Letterkenny Rugby Club in McCarry’s Hotel on April 11th, 1973 as a founding member.
Indeed as a player – and while I can’t in all honesty say I saw him in action it’s likely I did observe him on the old pitch on the Port Road – he excelled and could, they say, have gone on to greater things in an Irish jersey.
But motor oil was in his blood and it was to his job – he was chairman of Donegal Oil Company – and the racing circuit that he devoted his time, energy and great sense of camaraderie (loud laughter within a group of fellow enthusiasts would immediately point you in his direction).
The local motor world has lost a giant of a personality but most of all his family will miss his massive presence.
The chequered flag has been waved – farewell Big D.
FROM THE RING TO THE CAGE IN ONE BLOODY SWOOP:
Last Saturday’s ‘Irish Independent’ featured a letter from regular contributor, Brian McDevitt from Glenties.
He quoted an article from the previous week when Miriam Donohoe castigated one of his pet hates, the sport of boxing. “Fair play to her, she did not pull any punches on how she felt.
“I quote and agree: “I just don’t see the point in a boxer – man or woman taking a beating for the amusement of onlookers. Boxing glamorises violence and makes it look cool,” the columnist had declared.
“Yes indeed, Miriam”, Brian threw his hat into the ring.
And occasionally, I agree with you, Brian. I say occasionally because there have been times when I’ve been on my feet shouting at the television screen and urging on Steve Collins, Michael Carruth, Barry McGuigan, Danny Ryan, Katie Taylor, and Michael Conlan, among others over the years, and dancing around the sitting-room at a world title triumph or Olympic medal (not much dancing during the last Olympics).
So I confess, I’m a bit of a charlatan in that regard.
But not, absolutely not, when it comes to the UFC Mixed Martial Arts discipline (did I say discipline?).
There was no cheering or dancing at the weekend in this corner at any rate when Conor McGregor was acclaimed the new UFC lightweight champion.
Irish he may be but nothing could, or would, persuade me to watch through one of his fights with any degree of sporting fanaticism. And more likely not watch through any of it at all.
It’s street violence without the street – the only difference being you can safely avoid a court appearance but still pile in the readies if you’ve reached the Dubliner’s level in world rankings.
Or blood money as some might term it.
NOT QUITE A VIENNA WALTZ BUT….
Seamus Coleman – as the proprietor of the Daily said to me this week there’s a sportsman who manages to keep a humble lid on it unlike the above-mentioned – was quick to praise the Irish fans in Vienna at the end of Saturday evening’s qualifier and rightly so.
They remain a credit to this country, travelling the length and breadth of the globe and maintaining the support volume throughout. If only I had their dedication and, probably, their bank balances or loan credits.
Not quite a waltz for Martin O’Neill’s men but nevertheless a deserved victory, achieved as the result of a flowing move (finished off neatly by James McClean) that proves they can do it, and one that propels them to the top of their group.
Someday Eamon Dunphy might agree with this but Coleman was an inspiration as skipper and indeed earned the fulsome praise of manager O’Neill in the post match interviews.
We now must wait until March to see if we can retain top spot when the visitors to the Aviva Stadium are a Welsh side who have lost a bit of the momentum that saw them through to the semi-finals of the Euros.
Hopefully it will be our Coleman celebrating come the end of that particular fixture.
TRUMP WINS – AND DRAWS
So there you have it. The only American President ever to have pulled the balls out in the fifth round draw for the Rumbelows Cup.
Yes, the one and only – and there are quite a few who believe that’s still too many of him – Donald Trump did the business on the ‘Saint & Greavsie’ show on I.T.V. television back in 1991.
“It’s a great game, I love soccer,” he indicated at the time.
This not being the ‘Irish Times’, who somehow managed to devote their respective back page columns in both Saturday and Monday’s sports supplements to the Trump triumph –
Keith Duggan quoting the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, Stan van Gundy, at great length on the latter’s despair at the result of last week’s election and Malachy Clerkin backing that up two days later in his “Tipping Point’ column with further references to the shock result in world politics – this humble patch can only reflect that despite Trump drawing Leeds United out to face then fierce rivals, Manchester United, in that Cup draw, Alex Ferguson’s Reds still went on to beat the Elland Roaders and ultimately win the Rumbelows Cup with a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Hardly the popular vote at the time, that one….
SPORT AND GOLF IN DONEGAL:
Came across a fairly old publication – circa the 1930’s – on the province of Ulster at the weekend written by Stephen Gwynn, who spent the early part of his life in Ramelton, the family having moved there just after his birth.
Here’s a few lines in reference to our own fair county:
“Golf, which for the present is even a greater attraction than sport, does not extend into the wilder parts of the country though, indeed, twenty years ago Port Salon and Rosapenna, where the most famous links are, were outlandish enough.
It is golf that has brought them into the vale of civilization – over civilization some of us grumble when we see smart frocks among the sandhills by Downings Bay.”
Whatever about the frocks among the sandhills by Downings Bay (and that was just the men), what intrigued me most was the opening line where the author maintained that golf was now an even greater attraction than sport.
Often wondered what Rory McIlroy and Co. were doing hanging around the sporting pages….Tags: