A comforting voice but still an emotional storm

It had to be him. His comforting voice, which had seen myself, my family and so many others through and over so much. Now read on…

No secret has been of the fact that at times I haven’t reacted well to all of the restrictions forced upon us by Covid-19. At all. And yes, I know the entire world has effected by the dastardly thing. However, we may be “All in this together” but it sure as hell hasn’t been” The same for everyone”. Not by a long shot. Everybody has their own stories. Each one of them different. Every single story deserving and indeed needing to be told.

You might think I’ve articulated my grievances and upsets concerning how things have not so much been turned upside down for me but actually caught by a tornado and sent into orbit. Some of them you will be exhausted hearing of – the GAA matches not being on, spectators being barred from those that are on and not having horse racing or, in particular, farming, to fall back on. All for the same reason.

However, for the first time, I’m going to delve a little deeper into how it has left my mental health playing into a gale force wind, and it changes at half time. Not being able to get to games is a big enough kick in the guts, as is the situation with the racing, but, what really leaves the studs trailing in a delicate part of the world.

For as long as I’ve been writing in the public domain, making the breakthrough at national level seems nigh on impossible. Whether the objective has been to get a single piece published or getting anywhere near a permanent platform from which to operate. Earnest hope would be that one’s reliance on a set of wheels wouldn’t have been prejudicial to the chances of attaining such a break. Not a whole pile would be wagered on it though.

Mind you, the career opportunities aren’t just impinged by the probability of newspaper buildings not being compatable with how things roll. 2020 was the first year when an inability to take advantage of being a journalist with 20 years experience on the clock really sunk my spirits.

Colm Keys from Simonstown (Second from left) on duty in the Press Box in Croke Park

When the decision was taken – wrongly in my view – to move the disabled viewing facilities from pitch level in front of the old Nally Stand up among the birds nests at the back of a cold, desolate Cusack, originally the press facilities were adjacent to where us folk on wheels park ourselves. Thus, it would’ve been simplicity itself for me to join my colleagues, on the days of Meath matches at least.

What did the Brains Trust do? Move the media facilities to the seventh floor of the Hogan Stand and leave the disabled ‘viewing area’ in the department of pitiful lip service. At this point it should be stated that the area for journalists being on the plateau it is wouldn’t be that big of an issue due to the presence of a lift.

However, my research indicates that it would be considerably easier to sell the idea of a Donald Trump appreciation society than satisfy the accreditation criteria for the Croke Park press area.

The following is not done lightly, at all, so please stay with me here. When inter county belatedly returned on October 17th 2020, the delayed National League encounter between Dublin and Meath was one of the first games out of the traps. A fixture I could and should have been able on Press grounds if nothing else. So there’s no problem admitting to being more than slightly miffed when the camera picked up none other than Sean Boylan sitting the Parnell Park stand.

I mean, why was somebody like Sean granted admittance when yours truly, who could’ve been parked in there in a professional capacity, was stuck at home. Throughout TG4’s excellent and life-saving coverage of club games during the summer several other county bosses were observed at matches. Why the double standard?

You know, gut instinct is that being precluded from going to race meetings has been even more upsetting. Given the vast open spaces within most courses surely social distancing could’ve been accommodated, even for a limited capacity? As for the farming end of things, an entire book could be devoted to same and will be in the fullness of time. That is a solemn promise.

Maybe it should be no surprise, though, that it was in the words of my namesake and neighbour that the nearest to a modicum of solace was garnered at a time when it felt like the ball was the subject of an attempted kick into a wind of such ferocity it went into reverse and busted the kicker in the face. Rather than display glaring hypocrisy, it must be admitted that there were, at least, feelings of jealousy and perhaps even a degree of resentment towards Sean in this seat for a while.

Not only down to seeing him attending some of the matches whilst these wheels were in enforced dry dock. But also knowing that he was able to take to the fields for the peace and therapy which only the sod can bring and for which I so desperately long myself. Yet there was something familiarly comforting hearing his voice – there always is – whilst on with Claire Byrne for an all too brief period the other night. Though in fairness he had been on the radio with a certain current county team manager’s favourite DJ, John Murray, the day before.

Sean Boylan

To look at things from a different perspective, however, it was that very instance of hearing his voice that stoked a bit of an emotional storm with yours truly. On one hand, seeing that it is possible to make a recovery from this awful virus and that elements to aid that very process are available not too far away at all. But at the same time, cognisance of the couple of ‘advantages’ the man over the bridge had in doing so.

The upshot of the chaos currently being inflicted upon the world by what a certain thankfully now powerless buffoon insists on calling the China Virus is the sense of being in limbo. Not knowing. That is unquestionably the worst part of it at the moment. When the vaccine will be available, in my case whether I will be able to take it and, most importantly of all, when life will be able to return to normal. Or whatever version of the latter we are left with.

Leave a Reply