Reasons to keep the faith


David Walsh is one of the eminent sports writers of our time. For some, the Kilkenny native’s output may be tedious. In that he continually champions a cause he feels strongly about – clean sport. He is, however, more often than not, on the money. See his tireless efforts to expose Lance Armstrong as the sickening, lying cheat he was as evidence.

Oscar Pistorious is my Lance. At this point, let it be made abundantly clear, no attempt is being made to compare the former’s act of cold blooded killing with the latter’s bile enducing sporting misdeeds. Simply that, for reasons that have been extensively commented upon here before, Pistorious, his actions and the ensuing trial effected me more deeply than I could ever have imagined or perhaps I have the words for.

As was said at the time comment was last passed on this issue, if this comes across as a whinge, apologies. It is not meant as such. But it is needed. Again, I openly acknowledge the severity of the disability the South African was born with and the arduous efforts that he put into formulating some class of routine life for himself.

What grates is, him having more afforded opportunities the one working arm here would been given for – both in terms of sport and other areas of life that, for me, weigh heaviest on the heart and are most difficult to deal with – only to scoff at them in an act of cold blooded, mindless evil. And feelings are only exacerbated by the – in my view – shameful, paltry six year sentence handed down for all the destruction and heartache he caused.

It makes one realise that, for all we may give out about things here, at least there’s a better chance of justice being served than in other places. For it certainly wasn’t in this case. Pistorious should rot in prison. What it also did – most hurtfully – was accentuate the pang of longing for what he had, an intimate relationship with a beautiful woman in Reeva Steenkamp. Something, and somebody, he obviously truly cared little about.

Close to home, the loneliness and longing will remain, clinging to the hope that some day a turn might appear in the road. Yet, in a sporting sense at least, the search for reasons to keep the faith doesn’t have to extend too far at all. Still, reasons are needed. In ways, now more than ever. Given the damage which the association of Pistorious with athletics will have caused.

Not to mention the ongoing murkiness surrounding the prevalent doping culture in Russia with the Rio Olympics nearly upon us and the alacrity with which the top stars in golf are withdrawing for the event – for reasons which may not be all of what they seem.

However, as was said in the wake of Meath’s epic Christy Ring Cup win, greatest pride is always local. Now, this probably applies to all sports clubs for whom activity goes on during the summer months, but, Dunboyne AC has been a particular hive of action in recent times, with some even bigger occasions to look forward to.

The club’s annual four mile road race is a treasured part of the local calendar in and around the Easter period, but in recent years the blue and white also promote a highly successful 10k road event in Clonee during the summer months. This year’s incarnation attracted over 360 participants with the host club’s Kenyan athlete Peter Somba being the first man home while the ladies team event also remained local courtesy of Emilia Dann, Caitriona Mullen and Laura Buckley.

Success has been achieved on bigger stages too with Podge White and Sara Treacy among the medals at the National Championships while my inspirational young friend Sean Hughes added to his ever burgeoning list accolades when taking gold in the U-20 F34 Shot Putt at the IWAS World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic – with another three years left in the grade!

Long term, a Paralympic appearance is the ultimate goal for this talented youngster and with Limerick’s James McCarthy now having turned his talent and boundless energy and drive to coaching, expectation – and hope – would be that such will become a reality. In the meantime, the Olympic experience will be very real indeed for Dunboyne AC as Moynalvey native Treacy will don the tricolour singlet in Brazil in the 3000m steeplechase event having also recently competed with distinction at the European Championships.

Deviating slightly from the Dunboyne end of things, Sara’s achievement in becoming an Olympian is another chapter to what has been an equally successful period for the Moynalvey/Summerhill area. With Gordon Elliott recently recording his first Royal Ascot winner – with Adam Kirby aboard Comissioned – and Devin Toner casting as Ireland’s outstanding performer on their tour of South Africa. That Series must go down as one that got away, but, Toner’s excellence was a poignant and fitting tribute to his late father Peter.

As this is being typed, Euro 2016 draws to a conclusion. Admittedly, some of the fizz died in it when Ireland exited. Something is always needed to keep the spirits afloat. With the silage in for this year and the hay not yet cut, Wimbledon winding up and scepticism ruining the Tour De France, the Galway Races and the Olympics are the next big things to look forward to. How special it will be – thanks to the excellence of Treacy and indeed Natalya Coyle in Modern Pentathlon to have local interest in what still must be regarded as the greatest sporting event there is.


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