Sideline Cuts – 13

Back To Basics Approach Works

Mention has often been made in this space on numerous occasions of how reading habits are sporadic at best. As if to underscore that fact, a sizable chunk of Davy Fitzgerald’s autobiography was ingested in a fairly quick time, only for the excellent collaboration with Vincent Hogan to be parked up again frustratingly as one was found to be playing into life’s ill winds again. Mind you, the dictum regarding having flitting interest can also be applied to observation of certain sports at times too.

Presently, golf fits perfectly into that bracket. It’s always more watchable when Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy are in the field and on song. The latter is undoubtedly one of the greatest enigmas in the sporting world. A prodigious talent beyond question, but one whose temperament often comes under greater scrutiny than Barney Gumble using the word sobriety! Meritoriously so too, owing to the fact that, for all the garlands of the game the Down man has garnered, the overwhelming sense is that the haul could and should be greater still.

Rory McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship again

Sometimes though, a back to basics approach works best. In this case, that meant McIlroy ending his 18 month drought without a title on the PGA Tour by annexing the Wells Fargo Championship once again. Remember, it was his capturing of said trophy which launched him towards superstardom. The expected route thereafter may have had some fairly drastic deviations thereon in the interim, but, you don’t win four Majors without being supremely talented. Hopefully this latest triumph ca be a springboard for the Hollywood star back to the upper echelons of the game.

SLEEPING GIANTS STIRRING FROM SLUMBER?

Other sporting giants who may possibly be showing signs of stirring from slumber are the Cork hurlers. Whatever about Rory going 18 months without a title, the stickmen by The Banks being bereft of the Liam MacCarthy Cup for 17 winters would totally qualify for the category of sporting famines. Making wild and whirling forecasts after one round of league games may be the epitome of setting oneself for a facial made of hen produce, but in this instance it may not be without foundation. Not only due to the fact that their rampant dismantling of last term’s All Ireland finalists Waterford was a statement of intent in itself. but, even more so when taken in conjunction with the fact the Rebel County were also the most recent victors in the All Ireland U-20 HC. The test, of course, comes now. Can they sustain it? Only time will tell.

Shane Kingston was among the goals for his dad’s Cork side.

Elsewhere in the opening jousts of the season, Antrim scored an unlikely victory over a Clare outfit representing a county seemingly so beset by turmoil it threatens to stifle the greatest generation of hurlers the county has ever had. There was also the awakening of another former superpower in Pairc Tailteann when Michael Fennelly’s Offaly side launched a scoring blitz after the first Water Break to steer them past a spirited Meath outfit for whom James Kelly, Jack McGowan and Mark O’Sullivan raised green flags after the short whistle.

You know you’re getting old when offspring of players you admired start catching your eye in their own right. Eoghan Cahill took the scoring plaudits for the Faithful County but it was the presence of Brian Duignan – son of former dual star, ex Meath manager and current pundit Michael – which stirred the greatest emotional feelings here. Partly out of being a huge admirer of Michael’s, but also having kept a close eye on the young lad’s progress from the time I read Life, Death & Hurling.

From Meath’s perspective, while they will obviously be disappointed to have lost, there would hopefully be a realisation the 3-09 would win most games, especially at that level. Moreover, with respect to the other teams in the division, those in the tricolour attire would at least hope to consider themselves capable of taking their place at a higher level.

Thus, Meath can approach their remaining outings with justifiable confidence with regard to clocking up a few victories before their championship campaign commences.

THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATERS OF THE SUIR

Every one of us has heroes, whether they be sporting or otherwise. Owing to same, it’s only natural that we, even in our dreams, try to emulate them. From a writing perspective, for yours truly, that was undoubtedly Con Houlihan. Ask Belgian-born Irish cyclist Sam Bennett who he idolised and it’d be a fairly safe punt that fellow Carrick-On-Suir resident Sean Kelly would sit atop any such general classification. Going along those lines, if he hasn’t already, the 30-year-old is at the very least en route to making as big of an impact on his sport as did his legendary fellow Carrick man. A journey which reached another landmark most recently with Bennett’s winning two stages of the Giro D’Italia. In this corner at least there will be more than the usual passing interest in the greatest race of the all as even television spectators get a spectacular tour of France.

Sam Bennett has put Irish cycling back on the map

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