No victory for Vikki but it’s only just begun

If you subtract the fact that, as I write this, Manchester United have just beaten Arsenal, recording their fourth consecutive victory after their abomination of a beginning to the season, in sporting terms, the last few days have been pretty horrendous for yours truly.

At the outset here, it is imperative to state that, obviously, greatest disbelief and upset revolved around the tragic passing of 13-year-old Jack De Bromhead following an accident at a pony racing fixture in Co Kerry. Indeed, there’s almost a reluctance to write about any sport at present.

However, the sporting community – regardless of the code – is often its strongest when the need of one of their own is greatest. Thus, at the time of typing, it’s not at all surprising that racing appears to be going ahead as planned in the next couple of days. Though it’s hardly likely the declared De Bromhead runners will line up.

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Though pitiful in relation to what was just commented upon, there was nothing to lift the spirits on the local sporting scene either. With the greatest of due respect to all concerned, certain parties should be at the very least aiming for the business end of operations, not sweating over mere survival.

The latter concept being all the tougher to bear when one sees those with whom close affinity is held prospering greatly where the grass was considered to be greener after Roundup was doused on any prospects of growth close to home.

Dunboyne’s David Clare – pictured here during his involvement with Summerhill – has Celebridge in the last four of the Kildare SFC once again

Mind you, there was one happening on a faraway field which did quite a bit to at least partially lift what are pretty beleagured spirits at present. For a cacophony of sporting reasons and some that have nothing to do with sport at all.

The event in question being Vikki Wall’s second outing for the North Melbourne Kangaroos in the Australian Football League Womens championship. To be able to see the action at all, courtesy, yet again, of the wonderful TG4 Sport would’ve been awesome in itself.

However, adding to the sense of occasion was (a) that it was a Melbourne derby against The Demons and (b) the fixture was taking place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – one of the most iconic sports stadiums in the world.

Vikki Wall in the colours of North Melbourne Kangaroos

In lining out on the hallowed ground of Australian sport that is the MCG, Vikki continues a fine Meath tradition of performing in that venerated field which dates back to 1968 when the Peter Darby-captained Royal County toured Down Under as the reigning All Ireland Champions.

Now, I will not be hypocritical and avoid admitting that there was great upset in this seat when it became obvious that our superstar really was heading to waltz with Matilda. However, not for a second was that sadness borne out of bitterness or begrudgery.

Merely out of the realisation of catastrophic loss the terrific No. 13 would be to Meath over the longer term but, of more immediacy, to our club as we strive for a third county title in a row.

While there is absolutely zero intentions here of spewing out figures, only misery and/or jealously could quibble with the opportunities afforded to Vikki and others like her, male and female. Make no mitstake about it, if I wasn’t dependent on wheels to navigate through life, this corner would either be in the Australian Outback or somewhere along the American corn belt in Iowa or a location similar.

Where issue would be taken, though, is with regard to how the GAA and LGFA have observed the worryingly growing number of players venturing overseas to pursue other sporting avenues. It wouldn’t take Stephen Hawking to decipher why.

I have long been of the opinion that players at senior inter-county level should be paid. Male and female. They are elite, professional athletes in all but name. If some of the more obscure sports in this country can look after their top performers, there should be no reason why the most important sporting organisation in the country cannot do likewise.

To anyone who questions that theory, I would just say the following – anybody sponsoring a county team isn’t short on dough. For one thing, it might be no harm to see a breakdown of what a team sponsors money is being spent on. And for another, a guess would be hazarded that players would gladly give up some of the trappings in favour of a respectful few quid.

Ironically, having said all of the above, there is a sense of disbelief at the reality that Tyrone’s Conor McKenna is to return to the bottom of the world and resume his career with the Essendon Bombers in the AFL.

Of course, he isn’t the first to pull such a stunt, following in the frustrating footsteps of Tadhg Kennelly. Coming to the attention of the Australians because of being the footballer they had been moulded into by their own people, taking flight to the dusty outback before coming home and grabbing glory only to vanish again.

Tadhg Kennelly became a Sydney Swans legend like Jim Stynes before him

Thankfully, in this seat at least, there would be quiet confidence that the village’s latest sporting export will be back in club and county colours wielding her greatness for the long haul when the time is right.

Mind you, judging by the outstanding start the 2021 Ladies Footballer Of The Year has made at the bottom end of the world, the Aussies are unlikely to be in a rush to let her go.

There was to be no fairytale first televised victory for Vikki but Dunboyne’s finest showed enough awareness of and adeptness at her new craft to offer a glimpse of what lies ahead.

As it happens, I can’t let the opportunity pass to compliment Vikki’s Irish team mate, Erica O’Shea. Playing in what could loosely be described as a centre half back role – AFL pitches are massive – the Cork lady got on a sight of ball and was well able to mix it in what is a ferociously more physical pursuit than either ladies or gents Gaelic football and all the better for it.

Undoubtedly, being able to see the action from afar softens the blow for the families and connections of those plying their trade at the bottom end of the world but also adds to the pang of well meant upset that they are not closer to home.

On that subject matter though, maybe every town in the country is like this, but, it absolutely appears to be the case that, no matter where anybody is in the world, somebody from Dunboyne is liable to pop up and connect with them.

So it was most recently when St Peter’s GAA Club’s former Treasurer Martin Craig and his wife Carmel are currently in Australia visiting their daughter Maeve and grandchildren and when they heard Vikki was in action close by and sure it would’ve been rude not to head along for a look. Home is where the heart is!

Dunboyne on tour in the MCG.

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