There are times as a sportsperson, or fan, that you expect to wake up and realise what you just experienced was all just a dream. Like Tom Jones “And then I awake and look around me, at four grey walls that surround me, and I realise, yes, I was only dreaming”. On rare occasions though, you wake up and realise it’s all very real. For me the first such occurrence was on September 26th 1996 – being in attendance to see Tommy Dowd lift the Sam Maguire Cup. Or, to be honest, even more so, October 11th 1998, the occasion of St Peter’s, Dunboyne’s first capture of the Meath SFC.
Ask anybody from Limerick and they will surely tell you those good times are now. Long ago, the late, great Dermot Morgan used to poke gentle fun at some famous sons of the Treaty City but you suspect that was only to veil a deep-rooted respect for the place and its many well known characters.
Yours truly would find himself in a very similar situation regarding down south. There is truly no more sports oeientated place in the country. Up to and including the disabled viewing facilities. Thomond Park is beyond compare with anywhere wheels conveying yours truly have parked, either at home or abroad.
Strong and all as the sporting traditions down Shannonside may be, surely nobody could have been bold enough to predict the amazing few days folks down that way have had most recently. And it shoes no signs of abating any time soon. Today, just days after the county’s hurlers proved they were still well clear of the chasing pack, Ireland’s best dartist, Willie O’Connor got his PDC World Championship campaign under way with a convincing 3-0 victory over Niels Zonneveld of The Netherlands.
If opening night was about upsets and Grinches, the first afternoon session of the Championships was all about trends. Contrasting ones. Both Willie O’Connor and Ross Smith (against Dave Evans) won without dropping a set while the other two encounters went to the wire with Ryan Joyce overcoming Karel Sedlacek (CZE) and Chris Dobey edging past Keane Barry’s conqueror Jeff Smith of Canada. Both 3-2. Neither looked likely.
If the fare keeps up as good as this, I may even end up liking Christmas!