TV View: Skibbereen row their way past most of Europe

Denise Walsh thanks her lucky socks as highly promiscuous Galileo sees fruits of his labour

There was even a spell in the morning when Skibbereen was topping the European Championship medal table, holding off the challenge of all of Romania and the whole of France. As Mark O'Donovan put it, "ah Jesus Christ, we're a great club altogether".

That they are. There wasn't even time to boil an egg in the hour or so after RTÉ kicked off their coverage, so many medals were Skibbereen bringing home. And with a nod to the week's hot topic, perhaps, Joe Stack doffed his cap to people who get up early in the morning, their reward: witnessing live the Fab Five doing their medal-winning thing. Those ne'er-do-wells who'd slept in got what they deserved: they missed it all.

"Three medal chances, what would you be satisfied with," Joe had asked Sinead Lynch before the canine-like pullin' began. "Three medals," she smiled.

If that sounded greedy it was just that she knew they all had it in them, but even she and the equally hopeful Neville Maxwell were left gobsmacked by Mark and Shane O’Driscoll’s effort en route to gold.


"We did it, we beat the Brits, what did I tell ye," said Mark when David Gillick caught up with the pair, telling us that it's Shane and his "fine chunky legs" who do most of the work, which is why "he's usually the one who starts puking and everything". He'd had "morning sickness" too, he said. That, Shane explained, was down to "the drop of whiskey they gave us before the race".

So hot right now

If David does post-race telly work for another 50 years, he’ll never out-Racice Racice.

“Irish rowing is so hot right now,” he said. “Ah yeah, SKIBBEREEN rowing is going very good,” Shane corrected him, the only wonder that their medal ceremony anthem didn’t open with ‘how oft do my thoughts in their fancy take flight . . .’

Twenty-five minutes later and we had another medal. And it was all down to Denise Walsh’s lucky socks. “I bought a five pack in Penneys on St Patrick’s Day,” she said, and when Shane arrived to congratulate her he revealed that he had Penney’s socks on too. They’ll be sold out by Monday lunchtime.

And then the O’Donovan brothers arrived and only went and won us another medal when you’d be happy enough with a haul of that magnitude over a decade, never mind on a random May Sunday morning.

Gary chatted with David through a mouthful of banana, so starved was he. “We haven’t had a full plate of dinner in over a week,” he said, Mark later putting his own particular peckishness down to the quality of the local fare. “You can’t beat the Irish dairy products and the meat, it’s pure crap out here – we’re delighted to be going home to the sucklers and everything.” By now David no longer knew what language they were speaking.

And with that they all set off for home, Rowing Ireland left with a hefty bill for all that excess baggage. Neville told us they'd be back in training on Tuesday, so a nice long rest then.

"The production line continues down there," Sam Lynch had said in the commentary box of Skibbereen's ability to produce nifty rowers, a production line almost as impressive as the one we heard about at the Curragh the previous day.


The highly promiscuous Galileo, we learnt, has had almost as many women as he has oats since becoming a bit of a stud after retiring. One of the fruits of his dalliances was a boy called Churchill who, on Saturday, won the 2,000 Guineas.

In a television moment somewhat reminiscent of that time Gay Byrne told Annie Murphy "if your son is half as good a man as his father, he won't be doing too badly", to which she replied "I'm not so bad either, Mr Byrne", Brian Gleeson gave full credit to Churchill's father for his success. "It comes back to the Daddy – Galileo!"

Ted Walsh was having none of it. "Well, it comes back to the mares as well." Brian, the unrepentant male supremacist, wasn't budging. "But Galileo has been quite an extraordinary sire, Ted." So Ted had to remind him that where Galileo does his romancing, "they have some band of brood mares".

Mná na hÉireann, whether of the two or four-legged kind, could only thank Ted for his crack at having their efforts recognised, but it’s an uphill battle in the horsie world especially. Especially when it comes to names. Galileo and Churchill are rather grand monikers. Galileo’s ex and Churchill’s Ma? She’s called Meow.

Mind you, Ted would probably prefer Meow to Churchill. “He was named after a famous man, I suppose, I don’t know how great a man he was now, but he’s famous any way - if you were in the Dordogne in the early war you wouldn’t think he was so hot.” We’ll take it, then, that Ruby was never in danger of being christened Winston.