Sport squeezes out bread and but­ter stuff

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COVER STORY - Cor­mac MacCon­nell cor­ma­c­sea­

What a uniquely mighty and unique small is­land we are! As I write, and ye read, as the global year turns on its mys­te­ri­ous axis, let’s cel­e­brate that global re­al­ity our­selves in our own way. Just like our boxer Katie Tay­lor proved con­clu­sively in Eng­land over last week­end, we don’t truly of­ten cel­e­brate enough how dra­mat­i­cally stylishly we punch above our weight on all the mor­tal scales by which the na­tions of the world are judged.

That, with joy and gut sat­is­fac­tion, is again the purest of truths.

As a small is­land on the edge of Europe, we should not mat­ter at all on the world scale but, in­stead, thank Heaven, we are away up there at the top of the tree of sat­is­fac­tion na­tion­ally and in­deed glob­ally.

Against that re­al­ity, there is no ar­gu­ment that makes any sense at all.

Europe, and es­pe­cially our near­est neigh­bours across the Ir­ish Sea, are out of their minds about some­thing called Brexit, which, clearly enough, has eco­nomic and so­cial im­pli­ca­tions for all con­cerned. The other world is in chaos over Brexit but, here on this spe­cial is­land, we are far more con­cerned about whether Gal­way or Clare qual­ify in their epic hurl­ing semi-fi­nal re­play, come Sun­day, and many of us are con­cur­rently de­lighted (and sur­prised, in­deed) that Lim­er­ick’s hurlers, com­ing from be­hind all the way, de­feated Cork to book their place in the big Croke Park fi­nal of the au­tumn.

Stuff that is far more vis­cer­ally cru­cial for many of us than the bread and but­ter is­sues con­nected with Brexit’s pos­si­ble eco­nomic con­se­quences.

Let’s face it, we we have been deal­ing with re­silience and for­ti­tude with such is­sues down all the cen­turies, when we were dom­i­nated and con­trolled and, in­deed, pil­laged by our more pow­er­ful neigh­bours, upon whose em­pire, it was claimed, the sun never set.

To fur­ther clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion, I state here and now that I have no blood or ge­netic con­nec­tion with any of the three com­pet­ing hurl­ing coun­ties, ex­cept through my adult chil­dren, born in Gal­way to a Clare mother, God rest her now.

Daugh­ter Ciara, based in Bal­ly­cot­ton, clad her dog, Maisie, in a ma­roon Gal­way jer­sey dur­ing the re­cent clashes, and has since been un­der fire strongly from the rest of her clan who are still based in Con­nemara and Switzer­land but who, for what­ever rea­son be­yond my ken, are more in­clined to back the county of their late, dear, mother than their cur­rent ge­og­ra­phy. I will sort out the in­evitable strains in due time.

For what is is worth, I sus­pect I will be com­fort­ing Ciara and Ja­son rather than the lads in Con­nemara and Zurich, when the last slio­tar has been struck in the on­go­ing hurl­ing dra­mas.

But let us all cel­e­brate, as Au­gust ar­rives with all its at­trac­tions across the world of sport, that we own for our­selves the best and most thrillingly and skill­fully at­trac­tive con­tact ball code in the world — the game of hurl­ing.

I will not stray too far into the realm of my sports col­leagues but, be­yond doubt, the hurl­ing semi-fi­nals last week­end were epic de­mon­stra­tions of the code. Even sea­soned ex­perts were left breath­less, and that speaks for it­self. Mag­nif­i­cent sport at the high­est level. Up there, in an am­a­teur code, it is a real pity there are al­leged losers, when the last whis­tle blasts. In real terms, for most of us fol­low­ers, there are no losers at all. An­other pure truth af­ter all the thrills. The best is yet to come, and that is bril­liant.

For what it is worth, my per­sonal opin­ion is that Clare will go all the way to Liam McCarthy this sea­son.

Pic­ture: Ramsey Cardy/Sports­file

Rob­bie O’Flynn of Cork tack­led by Seán Finn of Lim­er­ick in the GAA Hurl­ing All-Ire­land Se­nior Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal at Croke Park.

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