The State of Sport

Over the weekend we witnessed perhaps two of the greatest games of sport ever to have been played here. They were watched by 125,000 people live in Croke Park and by over a million on televisions and other screens here and around the world.

Social media was on fire with praise and marvel at the skill, the guts, the character and the wonder of hurling.

Tonight sees the start of a three-part documentary series which will explore the deep interwoven connection between Ireland as a nation and the sport itself

But pause a moment. Didn’t we spent much of last week and indeed acres of newsprint on Saturday and Sunday wailing and snarling about the fact that the GAA was in some spiral of self-destruction.

It would be some piece of work to provide a true definition of the Irish sporting psyche.

Media commentators bemoaned the fact that the GAA was only interested in the inter-county game and that would lead to the death of the sport as a community force. Those same media are those who lionised Clare and Galway, Limerick and Cork, devoting every resource at their disposal to covering them.

One newspaper wrote of the fact that 96 per cent of the Club Players Association felt the GAA had gone too far and had ignored the club game, others that at juvenile level everything was great until inter county development squads came into being and then the idea of the sport as being equal opportunity for all was lost.

The inter-county game was being seen as the root of all evil.  Now it is the heart of what we are as a sporting nation.  You’d be doing well to keep up.

There will, of course, be many who will have shrugged at the idea of a replay and put that down to the ‘Grab All Association’ instructing the referee to blow the whistle when the teams were level so as to create another payday.

As a nation, we have a long history of begrudgery. Gore Vidal’s words that ‘every time a friend succeeds, a little part of me dies,’ could have been written for us.

These games which saw our hearts and passions soar at the weekend are the ones run by the f***ing dinosaurs so described six days ago. It’s the sport that dominated May as never before and was said in June to be sacrificed to football.

Football is the sport which was said to be dead two weeks ago and praised to high heaven when David Clifford scored a goal in Monaghan and crowds of Dublin fans streamed into Omagh the weekend after.

We would be a challenge to the finest sports psychologist.

So where are we now as dawn breaks on this Monday morning?

Will the club players of Limerick wake up bemoaning the fact that the Club Championship restart will have to put back a few weeks?

Will the fans of five counties whose fates in the Football Championship will hold us in thrall throughout next weekend be whining about how the super 8’s are a dead duck?

Will the fact that tickets for the Liam Miller tribute match are going on resale at Pairc Uí Chaoimh lead to some further accusation that administrators have no heart because of some other reason?

Or can’t we just take a moment to bask in the glow of a weekend of sport that has once again lifted us, thrown us in the air and made us think that while it may not be perfect, and we should never grow complacent, that maybe there is some good and joy left in it after all.

 

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Image Credit: Ryan Byrne, Inpho Photography

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