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Sunday, March 07, 2010

"I could have been a contender"...Roger Donoghue

Let me be frank. When it comes to commenting specifically on my writing career I hope I never utter those words. After a recent visit from Irish Times sports journalist Keith Duggan, I had a plethora of information set aside to mull over this weekend regarding the pros and cons of getting into journalism, in Ireland, today.

Although Mr. Duggan did not over glamorise his job and had a firm tone of ‘telling it how it is’, he managed to crack a few too many sarcastic smiles that gave enough information to those tuned in, that he really liked what he was doing.

Citing American sports journalist George Kimball as one of his favourite sports writers, Keith shared with us, a piece written by Kimball that was about the life of a former American welterweight boxer Roger Donoghue. An excellent example of sports journalism.

A young Irish boxer turned pro at 18 and prematurely retired at 21, Donoghue earned a few pennies serving as Marlon Brando's boxing instructor for the Movie 'On the Waterfront'.  On set one day, screenwriter Budd Schulberg  asked Roger if he could have become a champion had he stayed in the game. Roger’s reply was, “I could have been a contender.” Spoken by Brando’s character Terry Malloy, it became the most memorable line in the movie and is still quoted today.

Generous with his tips on how to get ahead in the industry, Keith reminded us (as with most things in life) it is ‘who you know’ that helps you get your foot in the door. His suggestion to literally pick up the phone and call the editor of the newspaper did not fall on deaf ears.

Adding to this, he encouraged my fellow classmates and I to start cutting and clipping anything we have published and tote it along to any meeting or interview we may land, as it is evidence that someone thinks we are worthy of having our name in print.

Although only a moment was spent on this topic, Keith is also the author of two GAA books and when questioned about his preference over journalism or writing a book, he spoke with a fond attachment for his books.

His first book, A Lifelong Season, is a glimpse behind the public face of the GAA and exposing what the organization means to people from the ground up, and the effect that the GAA has on people’s lives.

Keith’s second book ‘House of Pain’ is a book about the sorrowful mysteries of Mayo’s footballing history. Hailing myself from Mayo, I had to raid my neighbour’s book stand to flick through the pages of this one and have put it aside for summer reading! The very last sentence echoes the closing words spoken by Ted Kennedy in his keynote speech to the Democratic Convention in 1980 and it would certainly be apt to quote the full sentence as this will have special resonance for Mayo people: "... (the cause endures), the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

The few minutes of time we had with Keith flew by and as he wrapped things up it was something he said when asked about working with editors that remains engraved in my mind “you know you’re fucked when they change your first paragraph!”… Keith Duggan.

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,



Pama Mitchell said...

Hi Mona. Love the photo of Brando & Steiger! Also I have not figured out how to put photos in the middle of my posts....they all just show up at the top. But since you are on blogspot, too, that should be doable. Hmmm...

Thanks for adding my blog to your WISE links. It's starting to warm up here and we had a mild, sunny weekend after a horrendous, record-amount-of-snowfall February. I hope your weather is improving, too.
Happy spring!

WiseMóna said...

Thanks Pama! The weather here is glorious! Amazing sunrises and sunsets every day and Ron's garden is growing like crazy already! When entering text into your text box and want to insert an image, hit the enter key to line down to the place you want to have the image appear then hit the center (text) button. Then insert the image.
I think there is a blogger tutorial somewhere on the Blogger website, but have procrastinated looking for it! Good Luck!

John Jordan said...

Hi Mona,

Roger was an amazing man. Its interesting to see him popping up in blogs all over!

I found your blog while looking for some articles & photos of Roger to send on to a friend. I like your entry about him.

I knew Roger from dating his Niece, and spent weekends at his summer house. (Everytime we went, he put me to work digging ditches, rolling the tennis court and whacking through the brush!)

I see you are from Galway, I was in Co Galway this time last year, Loved it!!

I will have to look through your blog a litttle more!

Cheers from New York


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