As the sense of foreboding about what Taoiseach Micheal Martin would deliver in his latest media appearance dishing out more bad news on the Covid-19 situation, there was something ironically reassuring in being able to watch the Munster U-20 HC clash between defending All Ireland Champions Tipperary and Clare in Thurles.
Yes, such a sitpoint contradicts my conviction all along that there shouldn’t be any inter-county fare at all and that game time should have been reserved for club players – up to and including provincial and All Ireland elements thereof. Perhaps, however, a bit of leeway for changing one’s mind and devising a gameplan as we go along has to be left. Sure isn’t that what two incarnations of Government have been doing along with NPHET since last March.
Then again, one need only gauge the public reaction to games being on over the last weekend to decipher how much they mean to people. Also, how much they felt devoid of the social interaction which comes with the connection to GAA – or any other sport for that matter. A point emphasised by former Mayo footballer David Brady on television with Claire Byrne after the Cork custodian of the country had doled out his latest tranche of do’s and don’ts.
Ballina man Brady had, of course, typified the GAA’s spirit of working with and for and helping communities at ground level when taking it upon himself to make phone calls to followers of the Association all around the country who were and are suffering from loneliness and isolation due to feeling removed something which is and will always be a central tenet of their very existence.
As things currently stand, the inter county GAA season is being allowed to continue as players are being classified as elite athletes. Well, if that is the case, then surely the players are entitled to some form of remuneration for their efforts. Now, I have long felt that inter-county players should receive some form of recompense for the efforts which they put in which is professional in all but name. At any time, never mind in the midst of a global pandemic.
Traditionalists, conservatives paralysed by fear of change will of course recoil at the mere mention of such possibilities. Yet to me at least, living in denial that it will one day happen is like saying you could turn hay on a Christmas Day. It’s more than a little ironic, though, that those would champion such viewpoints were effusive in their support of the inter-county competitions going ahead knowing that it would significantly effect the weight of a certain part of their clothing.
Anyway, after that unexpected developments, back to the night’s fare. Clare were rapidly out of the blocks, with a plethora of scores from Cian Galvin and Mark Rodgers elevated the Banner County to a healthy looking 0-10 to 0-06 lead at the change of ends.
Whether there was any significant occurrence during the break is not known but the title holders emerged a completely different animal after the change of ends. Something could be said to have happened to the ultimately vanquished given the manner in which they imploded. Then again, as is often the case in these situations, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Or maybe it was just a case of any sportsperson’s primal instinct – fear of losing – taking hold. For the Premier County hurled like men possessed as the precision shooting of the imperious Conor Rowe and Devon Ryan transformed their position from four down to seven up in what seemed like a very quick time.
Once the game had concluded, a few thoughts took hold. One, that the idea of a split season between club and county carries much credence and that the pre Christmas league games never should’ve been done away with. Secondly, a pondering as to whether midweek games would catch on if they were given a chance.
And lastly, a curiosity about how many tuned in to the action that wouldn’t normally have done so but for so many of us feeling cut adrift from something which is so much part of the staple formula for getting through life.
The occupant of this seat still has serious misgivings about inter-county fixtures proceeding, but, I suppose it is what it is. Better to be looking at something than looking for it.