A real ‘Lust for Life’ for Ir­ish sports fans

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

ON SATUR­DAY night I re-fa­mil­iarised my­self with some char­ac­ters from my col­lege days as Chan­nel 4 were show­ing ‘T2 Trainspot­ting’, a movie which I in­ex­pli­ca­bly was late to the party for, hav­ing been re­leased over two years ago.

Any­how, it’s bet­ter late than never and it trans­ported me back to my care­free, some­times crazy days liv­ing in Dublin in the mid-nineties, times when I had a lot more hair on my head and a hell of a lot less things to worry about.

They were hal­cyon days in sport­ing terms too, with the likes of Wex­ford, Clare and Of­faly turn­ing the sta­tus quo on its head by win­ning All-Ire­land hurl­ing crowns, while our in­ter­na­tional soc­cer team was a match for most, with play­ers such as Paul McGrath and Roy Keane con­fi­dently strut­ting their stuff in the green jer­sey.

In hurl­ing we had gi­ants of the game like Martin Storey, Joe Doo­ley and Jame­sie O’Con­nor light­ing up our week­ends, while on the big screen Mark Ren­ton, Sick Boy, Spud and Beg­bie en­ter­tained us in an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent way in ‘Trainspot­ting’ in its orig­i­nal guise.

That said, the ul­tra-vi­o­lent Beg­bie wouldn’t have been out of place in the in­fa­mous 1996 Meath versus Mayo All-Ire­land foot­ball fi­nal, as the fisticuffs on show that day would have seam­lessly fit­ted into the Danny Boyle-di­rected black com­edy.

De­spite the fore­bod­ing clouds over­head, there was cer­tainly noth­ing black about Sun­day on these shores, bar the odd card of that colour in Croke Park, and it was cer­tainly a ‘Per­fect Day’ for Ir­ish sport.

Sup­port­ers, who couldn’t watch the ac­tion live, were surely glad they spent it in front of their tele­vi­sion sets as, like his fel­low county men be­fore the turn of the mil­len­nium, it was an Of­faly hero who was punch­ing above his weight.

Shane Lowry cer­tainly didn’t keep his fans hang­ing on though with his com­mand­ing fi­nal day per­for­mance at The Open in Portrush, in which he took the pres­sure in his stride, en­sur­ing it was as easy as pos­si­ble for his le­gion of fol­low­ers to keep their heart rate in check.

His breath-tak­ing 63 on Satur­day may have seen him place one hand on the Claret Jug, but how the ami­able Clara man kept his cool on Sun­day to seal the deal with­out break­ing sweat was ev­ery bit as im­pres­sive.

Lowry’s won­der­ful success wasn’t the only thing worth cel­e­brat­ing though, as what’s rare is won­der­ful and Kerry and Done­gal proved that there’s life left in the an­cient game of Gaelic foot­ball, res­cu­ing it from the ‘Un­der­world’ and ac­tu­ally pro­vid­ing us with a de­cent game for once.

De­spite the greasy con­di­tions, there was no need for ‘Born Slippy’ to bel­low out of the speak­ers around G.A.A. head­quar­ters as the Mun­ster and Ul­ster men breathed joy back into Croke Park af­ter the life had been sucked out of it the pre­vi­ous day.

It was def­i­nitely a case of leav­ing the best un­til last as they fin­ished level at 1-20 each af­ter an ab­sorb­ing encounter.

Just when it looked like the Su­per 8s could be shut down for be­ing se­ri­ously in breach of the trade de­scrip­tions act, two heavy­weights stepped up and went toe-to-toe, although nei­ther could quite land a knock­out blow as the in­ten­sity and pace never waned.

Af­ter the eu­pho­ria at The Open had be­gun to die down and the crowd had drifted from Croke Park, there was still the not-sos­mall mat­ter of the Ir­ish Un­der-19s bid­ding to book their place in the semi-fi­nal of the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

Their 2-1 vic­tory over the Czech Repub­lic, cou­pled with Nor­way’s 1-0 loss to France, meant they sailed into the fi­nal four, where they will meet holders Por­tu­gal on Wed­nes­day.

It’s a re­mark­able achieve­ment for Tom Mo­han’s young Boys in Green, con­sid­er­ing a host of their bet­ter talent, which in­cludes the likes of promis­ing Spurs star Troy Par­rott and Southamp­ton’s Michael Obafemi, are miss­ing from the tour­na­ment due to clubs not re­leas­ing play­ers, forc­ing the man­ager to draft a num­ber of Un­der-17s into the squad.

The young guns have cer­tainly stepped up to the mark though, and there’s plenty in the Emer­ald Isle, of all ages, with a real pep in their step and a real ‘Lust for Life’ this morn­ing.

If Irvine Welsh had a long-lost Ir­ish cousin, with an equal flair for lan­guage and drama, he couldn’t have scripted Sun­day any more beau­ti­fully.

Shane Lowry cel­e­brates with caddy Brian Martin on the 18th green af­ter win­ning The Open Cham­pi­onship.

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