If the jersey doesn’t fit…

Throughout the education sector, the season’s activities are coming to a close. Which brings the mind to thinking that primary education is entirely aptly named. For what is learnt thence is what’s generally retained with most clarity throughout life. As far as is known, and it’s certainly hoped, that the tradition of the term ending school tour still abides.

Owing to such excursions, certain aspects of life were encountered that – it’s wagered – never would’ve been otherwise. Such as the army barracks in Athlone or a boat trip to get a closer look at the fishing vessels off Roslare. The first such adventure, though – nigh on 30 years ago now (gulp!) – was to Dublin Zoo. Actually, so was the second.

However, whilst others were transfixed by the more exotic inhabitants thereof, even at that age, agricultural inclinations lured yours truly towards what I think was – and maybe still is – rather curiously called Pets Corner. Being quizzical about the name stemmed from the residence of a few Jersey cows in that particular area.

It is the source of some regret that I am not more attuned to wildlife and birdlife and animal life and fish life. Something which hopefully can be rectified. Though it’s often wondered how much visitors those docile, gentle cows – if they’re still in situ – have to welcome. For it appears unfortunately certain that the venerable beasts attract more attention in an exhibition sense than in terms of being a commercial proposition.

Until recently, there were a couple of Jersey cross bulls in the herd here. And, while the returns on the pair would pale in comparison to Charolais and Limousine and Hereford and Angus, they weren’t as derisory as some prices being quoted for stock of the same ilk in recent times. There was a lesson in it all though, it’s better to go for the quality, even at a bit of extra cost. If the Jersey doesn’t fit…

In a certain sporting sphere of late, there’s been a feeling of the jersey not fitting either. Now, that Pairc Tailteann is in need of a bit of a spruce up hardly requires greater articulation. However, it’s far from the worst ground and hardly dishevelled enough to warrant the relocation of the All Ireland U-21 FC Final to Parnell Park.

Misgivings over what in my view was an unnecessary development are in no way held as a slight against the Dublin venue. Rather, the prevailing feeling is one of disbelief at the explanation apportioned to the decision. Citing difficulties relating to the floodlights at the Navan venue seem as unfathomable as they are unfounded. Especially in light of all but one of Meath’s National League home games taking place at night and, yes, under lights.

It’d be interesting to ascertain whether there has even been a venue change for a game of this magnitude previously. In one way, though, doesn’t it amply demonstrate the regard – or lack thereof – which exists for the competition? Again, that is in no way meant in a disrespectful manner towards the newly appointed venue.

Regrettably, the real reason behind Navan’s defenestration from the agenda is probably all too easy to decipher in a society where freedom is all the time being quenched. Such may seem an over dramatisation of a sporting matter. That said, recalling that the same fixture in the same grade between Dublin and Tyrone took place in the same ground in the early part of last decade is to observe that conditions there haven’t deteriorated in the interim. Nor has the common sense of patrons attending games.

Perhaps most dispiriting of all, though, is that, not only have the local sports viewing public been in my opinion needlessly deprived of the opportunity to see some of the best young footballers in the country display their finery, the local economy has – in an inevitable domino effect – lost out on what would doubtless have been a much welcome infusion of passing trade.

In times past – which don’t seem as long ago as they in reality are – certain counties began their summer odysseys close to Tara. Until some entities cast rather scurrilous aspersions regarding vegetation supposedly taking hold on the playing surface. On those occasions, the hostelries and eateries and many other businesses in Navan – and probably surrounding environs like Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne – hummed with life.

On June 14th next, Meath play their first Leinster SFC match on their own turf in two decades when they host Wicklow. Such occurrences are all too rare now. As matters all the time become more centralised around one arena, maybe the GAA is losing touch with a special part of what makes it the great association it is. More is the pity.


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