Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4/5 ain't bad for the Aussies... but what a win for the Irish!!

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

A journalist once likened the performance of Irish Rugby Captain Brian O’Driscoll to the Vince Lombardi quote. Today I ask is this quote still applicable to the entire Irish squad?

I’m no George Hook (not that I want to be.... after all who would?) but having witnessed a deflated Irish squad in their pre world cup games, I wasn’t quite sure what they were chasing!!

Their first game against the US A was hardly worthy of headlines either, but a week later, in a week where Australia were confidently eyeing up their opponent, the Irish rugby squad reminded us why we love the sport so much.

I can’t offer a review of the intricacies of Saturday morning’s game, as I once asked a rugby enthusiast what happens in a scrum, to which the response was ‘It’s dark place down there.... I couldn’t possibly say'! So instead, today I shall offer a review on the momentum, pace and energy that instilled a sense of pride in the nation.

Australia emerged in New Zealand prepared for a win, having met Ireland on four occasions and secured a victory on each occasion, why wouldn’t they be? Back home, thousands of supporters emerged from their beds for a 9.30am start (an hour of the morning we don’t see all that often on Saturdays) not overly optimistic! At the off chance of sounding a little negative, I’ll kick start this on a positive note, David Pocock, aka the fearsome Aussie back row, was out and was instead replaced with Ben McCalman, who until today had never played at seven in an international.

It was a collapsed scrum which saw the Aussie’s put the first 3 points on the scoreboard, with a kick from O’Connor. Despite a missed first opportunity, Sexton evened the scoreboard, after the Irish squad forced another Aussie penalty. The Irish squad we all know and love appeared to have resurfaced, fourteen phases of quality play, results in Sexton landing a drop goal 19 minutes in. Offside against Sean O’Brien ensured the Aussies level the game.

After a couple more scrums, the referee having enough of the Aussies collapsing the scrum, a missed opportunity by Sexton to put Ireland in the lead, some fantastic performances from Ferris, Heaslip and Healy we are level at half time. Ireland 6 – 6 Australia.

As play resumed we saw the Aussie counter attack rip the Irish defence open, but O’Driscoll and O’Brien ensured this was short lived, at the breakdown Australia were offside, resultant of which was a kick from Sexton and we regained our lead once more.

O’Gara replaced D’arcy, and Murray, Reddan. Continued superb efforts on the field ensured another kick for Sexton which unfortunately hit the post, and Ireland scrambled to get the rebound. It is then the passion behind these players is evident , they have a purpose, they are here to right the wrongs of their four previous games against the Aussies.

O’Brien and Ferris force another Australian error on the ground, resultant of which is a scrum for Ireland. Three collapsed scrums and a penalty for Ireland is secured. It is O’Gara who stepped forward, and his experience and professional stand to him, Ireland 12, Australia 6. With ten minutes remaining, Ireland win another penalty, and O’Gara doesn’t disappoint, Ireland 15 – 6 Australia.

A pressurised environment, see an Australian scrum 10 metres from the Irish line, Genia is stopped a metre from the line, another Australian scrum is awarded five metres from the line. A quickly taken Aussie penalty is intercepted by the exceptional Tommy Bowe, who sprints for the line, but is stopped five metres short.
With one minute remaining, a try from Murray is disallowed. Ireland subsequently win a final penalty and the game is over. Final score Ireland 15 – 6 Australia.
Oh how the sweet smell of success engulfs the Irish crowd in Auckland and the Irish supporters glued to their tellies at home. This is what rugby is all about...
A fantastic win! The sheer class, drive and determination displayed by the Irish squad was exceptional. What an epic performance!!!!

Captain Brian O’Driscoll later thanks the crowds, and one can merely note his immense talent on that field tonight, but it should also be noted, that every member of that Irish squad were outstanding.

They may not have been chasing perfection in the warm up games nor in their Rugby World Cup opener against the USA.... but whatever they were chasing tonight, ensured they most definitely caught excellence! Well done lads!!

Saturday 17th September
The Forgotten Irish Graduate

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Film Reviews: One Day and Friends with Benefits

"Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well.Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance" - One Day

Review of the Film: One Day...

I can review a poor attempt at an English accent courtesy of Anne Hathaway, her hideous glasses, or how a rather young Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess), like a fine wine, gets better looking with age... . alternatively, if you chose to see past this, here within lies a wonderful story.

A story of friendship, growing up, regrets, disillusionment and how cruel life can truly be.

I don’t believe in fairytales... and if you haven’t read the novel, don’t be disillusioned by the trailer, for One Day is no fairytale.

Graduation day, for young graduates, symbolizes new beginnings, and for most is the dawning of the rest of your life. It is on this day that the unlikely pair, the shy nerdy Emma Morley and the self confident ‘big man on campus’ (we all know one!) Dexter Mayhew embark upon a friendship after spending the night together.

The movie captures One Day every year, July 15th, from 1989 onwards.... some years they spend together, others apart. Two very different people, two very different lives, two stories that would one day (pardon the pun!) merge together.

The evolution from an ambitious young graduate to a bestselling novelist was by no means easy for Emma, spending her first few years as a graduate in London working in a Tex Mex restaurant, before becoming romantically involved with a fellow waiter (an aspiring Comedian....who failed to possess any comedic gene whatsoever, with the exception of his appearance!), embarking on a teaching career, all whilst living in a dingy flat. She fulfils her dream of becoming a bestselling novelist and moves to Paris, where she meets a jazz musician.

Dexter, with a name like that, we can sense he had a rather privileged upbringing. His affluent background affords him a life of travel following graduation, subsequent to which he lands a gig as a TV Presenter, and enjoys all the perks his five minutes of fame offer; the girls, the booze, the plush apartment. Like most, he loses himself along the way and Emma doesn’t shy away from pointing it out.

‘I love you Dexter. I just don’t like you anymore’

Emma walks away from him and it isn’t until a mutual college friends’ wedding that their paths cross again where Dexter’s fiancé is expecting a child.
Yet one failed marriage later, Dexter and Emma finally confront their relationship in Paris after all those years (Losing count at this stage...)! But just when you think they’ve gotten their happily ever after, the random cruelty that is life interrupts their future plans...... leaving a void in the lives of one of our main characters.

It’s not academy award worthy, it’s not a box office smash, and it certainly is not a fairytale...for after all, who truly gets their happily ever after?! Nonetheless, I recommend you see it!

My reasoning... Well it serves as a simple reminder that life from the moment we graduate is ours... it may not necessarily be what we’d planned, and realistically we probably won’t change the world as our professors once said we would, it’s an eye opener to the struggles life can throw in your direction, a gentle reminder of how cruel life can sometimes be, but it also reminds you -

‘Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance’.

86400 seconds, 1440 minutes, 24 hours.... July 15th... no matter how you quantify it.... it was just One Day!

‘Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today, I’ll always remember that’.

Now to review the film: Friends with Benefits

Unlike One Day, Friends with Benefits is a fairytale... well, a guy’s fairytale!!

No hidden message, no thought provoking plot, no depth, quite simply, no brain required for 1hr 44 mins.... just Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis and a self explanatory title....and well, that's it! Enjoy!!

13 September 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Apple a day.....

I didn’t graduate from Standford University in 2005 – but I did graduate from Smurfit School of Business, where a very wise professor mentioned to me that Steve Jobs’ commencement speech which he delivered to the Graduation Class of 2005 was worth a listen. I was intrigued.

To me, Steve Jobs was the genius behind Apple, globally renowned entrepreneur, the creator of the ‘i’ universe we now all reside in.

It merely took a 20 minute speech to learn that there was so much more than meets the ‘i’ (pardon the pun!) when it comes to Steve Jobs. He is a great orator with a wonderful story, three wonderful stories actually, and three stories I feel should be shared.

1. Connecting the dots

Jobs was a college dropout. But dropping out of Reed College turned out to be one of the best decisions he made. Had he not dropped out of his college course, he would never have dropped in on a calligraphy class and in turn, the MAC would never have had the multiple typefaces it offered. It’s a simple tale, with a potent message - as Jobs explains ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever’.

2. Love and loss

‘You’ve got to find what you love’ – Luckily for Jobs he found it early in life, and at the age of 20 he founded Apple with Woznaik. Jobs was subsequently fired from his own company (not quite the love story we’d all envisaged!). Yet Jobs wasn’t deterred, he still loved what he did. In the five years after his ousting from Apple, he courageously started a company called NeXT and another called Pixar and married his wife, Laurence. In a twist of fate, Apple bought NeXT and Jobs returned to the helm of Apple once more.

Whilst many others would bury their head in the ground, Jobs didn’t, his reasoning –
‘Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.’

3. Death

A morbid topic for a commencement speech, not so. It’s a refreshingly honest viewpoint on death.

‘Of you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right’.

This quotation had a profound impact on Jobs’ life. Each morning, he admits to looking in the mirror and asking himself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If the answer to this was no for too many days in a row, he knew he needed to change something. This analogy of life aids with the big choices he makes in his life. Remembering that you are going to die, Jobs says, is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you’ve something to lose.

Jobs opens up about his brush with death, a diagnosis in 2004 relating to a tumour on his pancreas. He was told it was incurable – and to expect to live no longer than 3-6 months. The diagnosis was inaccurate and the form of pancreatic cancer Jobs had was curable.

He reveals his insight into death ‘the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it’. Describing death as the single best invention of Life, as it is life’s change agent, it purpose being to clear out the old to make way for the new.
It is then Jobs truly focuses on the graduates, and tells them that they are the new, but that someday they will become the old and be cleared away. Why the need for such a dramatic statement?

Jobs wants young graduates to realise that their time is limited. He doesn’t want others to waste it living someone else’s life. He continues...‘Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’

The three wonderful stories had a profound impact on me. I too am a young, ambitious graduate – merely attempting to connect the dots, searching for what she loves, and knowing for too many days in a row that I’m not doing what I’d want to do with my life if today was my last day. I’m not giving up though, I will strive to find it.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers to most, but to me he is so much more – it is the person behind the title, the story of how he gained the title, lost it and regained it once more, his personal struggles, and his philosophies on life which leave me enthralled.

Hearing the news of his resignation last week, saddened me deeply, with further rumours circulating around his deteriorating health cited as his reason for doing so.

Jobs signed off the commencement speech with the words ‘Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish’ – a message he has always wished for himself. So Steve, as you resign I wish that for you, I hope you will continue to inspire, encourage and motivate the young graduates of today with your excellence.

‘Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish Steve!’

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, September 2011

Hello Dublin! Hello Ireland!

“Hello Dublin! Hello Ireland! My name is ‘Barack Obama...er, I mean Enda Kenny’ ”.... no doubt an upcoming event will warrant the use of an Obama speech in the near future by our beloved Taoiseach.

Set the scene – Ireland 2011- one (of many) frustrated graduates whose education may as well be deemed redundant in the current economic climate. The dole queue vs. the boarding pass vs. a job (they are out there) but one which fails to utilise the time, energy and money invested in your education, ‘a world class education’ according to American President, Barack Obama. The education I received was never the problem Barack! The level of education would have ensured I was well placed in the working world 5 years ago – An honours degree and a first class honours masters from a prestigious Irish business school would have undoubtedly been a guaranteed ticket into employment, and more importantly, your dream job!

What’s my problem?
It infuriates me that it takes the American President a mere 23 minutes, during the course of his speech at College Green to inspire the younger generation, the future of the country.

It infuriates me that our own Taoiseach felt that it was fitting to utilise Obama’s words, from his infamous election speech, and not his own to inspire the nation.
It infuriates me that Enda Kenny delivered that speech like he was commentating a local GAA football match.

It infuriates me that with a mass audience present and television viewership tuned in, after 76 days in office; this truly was your national and international platform to influence the young generation, the future of this country, and the future leaders of the country. Did you offer any solace to the unemployed young graduates, the bright futures of whom have been darkened by actions of former politicians, former leaders, and poor decisions. This was your moment Enda!

On such a podium, you failed to reach out a younger generation, a generation of highly educated graduates. Another wasted opportunity Enda!
Step forward the charismatic Obama – the potency of the words used, the fluidity of speech, as much as he embraced his Irish roots Obama wasn’t attempting to recreate any GAA commentary!!

Enda I only hope you were listening...

'We remember, in the words made famous by one of your greatest poets that “in dreams begins responsibility.... And today, Ireland’s youth, and those who’ve come back to build a new Ireland, are now among the best-educated, most entrepreneurial in the world. And I see those young people here today. And I know that Ireland will succeed.’

Obama, I sure am glad you’ve more faith in the youth of today than our own Taoiseach!

‘And, Ireland, if anyone ever says otherwise, if anybody ever tells you that your problems are too big, or your challenges are too great... Remember that whatever hardships the winter may bring, springtime is always just around the corner. And if they keep on arguing with you, just respond with a simple creed: Is féidir linn. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Is féidir linn’.

Young graduates are the bright future our country needs, we are the future leaders of the country, and we will inspire future generations with our ability to rebuild the broken Irish economy. We are not the generation who so corruptly demolished the banking sector. Instead we are the generation who want to make a difference; we want the opportunity to right the wrongs of the pot-bellied bankers and politicians who spent their evenings lining the pockets of publicans and restaurateurs when the economy flourished. Graduates are credited for their ambitions, drive and determination – yet we remain in an environment in which all ambition is stifled by a government which fails to offer us any reasonable solution. I can without a doubt say that the graduates of today have a wealth of integrity compared to those who so cunningly wronged us in the first place.

Unlike Obama, who heralded ‘Yes we can’ the rhetoric of the Irish Government and the overpaid, bonus clad bankers pales in comparison; their attempts are instead uninspiring and pitiful! The ability of the graduate has been overlooked. It is apparent that the Government do not believe that we can aid the economic recovery by drawing on our expertise. Graduates want an input into remoulding the banking sector and Irish politics to ensure neither are riddled with corruptness in the future.

Enda Kenny – if you’re reading this (you’ve permission to recycle my words at any future addresses by the way!) and if you too ache for ‘a brighter future, even in bitter times’, I urge you to please give the young graduates the chance they deserve, because quite simply, if you do - Is féidir linn!!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, May 2011

I’m a Graduate.... Get me out of here!!

“The light of starry dreams can only be seen once we escape the blinding cities of disbelief.”

So said Shawn Purvis – and I too ache to see the light of starry dreams yet remain in a city which is smothered in disbelief! Dublin- A far cry from the graduate haven it once was!

In the early noughties, Dublin offered graduates a plethora of opportunities; multinationals, international and national banks enriched graduate development and offered a wealth of prospects. What a turnaround. A couple of years later, graduates are presented with few such opportunities, despite having an education on par with, if not superior to, past graduates. The bleak realism facing recent graduates and future graduates is that in the past two years unemployment has almost trebled. Even in the midst of the recession, in March 2008, the Central Statistics Office revealed that a mere 25,400 graduates were unemployed– 2 years later, March 2010, the number of graduates who remain unemployed soared to 68,600. Most definitely figures to signal alarm bells with any government that cares for the future of their country – but not the Irish government, they appear content to let the educational background and skill-set nurtured in our college years go to waste! Another salient fact reveals that Irish Graduate unemployment has risen 22 times faster than the Eurozone average – another pressing issue for the Government to tackle... maybe that will be on the agenda after they decipher who will jet off, on all-expenses-paid trips, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2011, courtesy of the tax payer – deemed a trip to keep the credibility of the Irish intact – instead all departmental ministers could engage in a drunken interview to grab 457 headlines across the globe like our beloved Taoiseach did–juxtaposing a budgetary cut, whilst reinforcing the national ethos of drink, that will now forever cloud Irish politics!

I started my college experience in 2005 when all still appeared well in our economy; the Celtic Tiger roared on; and ‘credit crunch’, ‘economic crisis’, ‘subprime mortgage crisis’, ‘property bubble’ and ‘recession’ were yet to enter the dictionary of my generation! Despite starting my undergrad when times were relatively good, on passing my finals, the economic climate had undoubtedly changed, so continuing my education seemed like the optimal decision. Armed with an undergrad in Commerce, a Masters in Finance I decided to make my debut into the graduate field, securing a place on a one time hailed ‘prestigious’ graduate programme – and in my naive view, the ticket to shape the industry I wished to specialise in, Finance. Surely a recent graduate with creative ideas on how to piece this economy back together would be welcomed? Not so! Gone were the glamorous roles once offered by graduate programmes, instead an environment in which all graduates firmly took a back seat and watched from the sidelines encircled us, as those who created this mess attempted to piece the broken banking sector back together!

It wasn’t the current graduates who so corruptly demolished the banking sector- so why punish us? We are merely seeking a graduate opportunity, a job, an opportunity to make a difference, an opportunity to right the wrongs of the pot-bellied bankers who spent their evenings lining the pockets of publicans and restaurateurs when the economy ‘flourished’.

Instead we are subjected to daily headlines which uncover the underhandedness and the heinous crimes of bankers, whilst recent graduates, who are the future of the country, remain trapped in jobs which do not require the utilisation of the educational skill-set gained during their college years, and that merely accounts for the lucky few graduates with jobs, whilst others form a line at the local dole office!

Graduates are credited for their ambitions, drive and determination – yet we remain in an environment in which all ambition is stifled by a government which fails to offer us any reasonable solution. I can without a doubt say that the graduates of today have a wealth of integrity compared to those who so cunningly wronged us in the first place.
So who can a graduate turn to during such a severe recession?
Unlike Martin Luther King, who had ‘a dream’ and Obama, who heralded ‘Yes we can’ the rhetoric of the Irish Government and the overpaid, bonus clad bankers pales in comparison to these prominent figures, their attempts are instead uninspiring and pitiful! No words can offer solace or inspiration, nor are they laden with any potency – the Irish government has failed us again! The ability of the graduate has been overlooked. It is apparent that the Government do not believe that we can aid the economic recovery by drawing on our expertise. Likewise – as a graduate, I do not believe in the government and its ability to solely safe our country without graduate input.

Yes, I have dreams – and yes, they may me starry eyed dreams, but they are dreams and ambitions which I want to realise. I, as a graduate, want an input into remoulding the banking sector and Irish politics to ensure neither are riddled with corruptness in the future – but alas, this is clearly not the time, nor do they want a graduate’s contribution! Quite frankly – I am fed up! It saddens me greatly, that as a graduate, I can’t realise the occupation I’ve longed to pursue in the country I’ve been educated, my native land.

Dublin, for me, is no longer the place to realise my starry dreams; it is now time to look elsewhere and escape the ‘blinding city of disbelief’....I’m a graduate... get me out of here!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, November 2010