You wouldn’t often see Con Houlihan in a Press box. “They’re only for journalists,” he once said. Well, what did that make him? A writer, a wonderful weaver of words. He died last Saturday, just a matter of days after piecing together his last column.
I was an avid reader of his in his time with the Evening Press. His back page column would appear every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and make for compulsive reading.
Most sports were covered; even when he wrote on ones you might be watery about, you could still enjoy them for their turn of phrase. I’d like to think I learnt something from them.
Sometimes he’d have a Gaelic games preview in the Saturday edition, and in midweek a Tributaries column, which sometimes dealt with politics. I didn’t always agree with what he said here on on the back page, but still loved the way he put it. He also reviewed plays, and these were read as well.
I met him a few times, once at an All-Star banquet, another at The Curragh races. That was the day Lester Piggott was on his comeback and rode four winners for Vincent O’Brien. He wasn’t the easiest to understand, but I picked up enough of what he said to get on the last in Piggott’s accumulator.
I could have continued reading Houlihan after the Evening Press closed in the mid-1990s, but didn’t. To me, the two were inexorably linked.