Remember when we were in lockdown – take your pick as to which one – and there was a kind of a consensus that this would all make us better people, that we would be more caring and appreciate of the things we have?
Theory is always better than practice, we have found, and so it was hardly surprising that there was criticism bordering on vitriol in some quarters because the Clare-Waterford Munster SHC clash on Sunday wasn’t up there with the hurling epics of our times.
It was far from a great game, certainly; Clare should have won by more than the four points that they did and it’s not a huge leap to suggest that if they are to shoot 22 wides against Tipperary this Sunday then they will wind up defeated.
But they won and, given that they were being written off after a league defeat to Antrim not so long ago – not to mention the off-field issues in the county – it will be a sizeable pick-me-up.
Waterford must now go the scenic route and that will be hard. Last year was a mild surprise, given how they had fared in the period prior to that, and any team would struggle to absorb the losses they have had since then for various reasons.
Goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe, full-back Conor Prunty, centre-back Tadhg de Búrca and midfielder Jamie Barron were all absent on Sunday and having to replace four players of such influence in one go will hamper any side.
They will look to regroup in the qualifiers – some of the football counties whose years ended at the weekend will be envious of the hurling teams having such a facility.
The straight knockout nature of the football championship is unfortunate, but everybody knew the terms of engagement prior to the championship.
If there was a tiered football championship, it would be easier to accommodate a back door. It remains the case that the fairest competition in football is the secondary one, but making the league the championship would need a lot of attitudes to be changed.
By the end of this weekend, we will know the provincial hurling finalists and have some shape of the qualifiers. But perhaps the biggest and best development will be the fact that 8,000 people will be in Croke Park for the Leinster hurling semi-finals – some light at the end of the tunnel.
Even if Covid-19 wasn’t such a ubiquitous factor, the logistics involved would have made it difficult for RTÉ to send commentary teams to all of the Euro 2020 venues.
Those back in Dublin have done a good job on covering the games off-tube, as such a practice is termed, but there is definitely something added when a commentator is at a sporting event, especially at moments of high drama.
While driving to the Clare-Waterford hurling match on Sunday, RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Sport was going back and forth between the GAA action and the national track and field championships at Morton Stadium.
Greg Allen was the man with the mic at Santry and he was lucky enough to witness a marvellous 200m women’s race as Phil Healy edged Rhasidat Adeleke by one-hundredth of a second. Allen was able to convey the sheer excitement as Healy, the ‘Ballineen Bullet’, bounced back following 18-year-old Adeleke’s great start, describing it as the greatest women’s sprint race to have taken place in Ireland.
The national record before the race stood of 22.96 seconds – Adeleke had shaved a sliver off Healy’s previous record back in May – and both of these talented women smashed that, with Healy finishing in 22.83 and Adelekee 22.84. The wind speed of 2.1 metres per second meant that it doesn’t go down as an official new record (2.0 would have sufficed), but it doesn’t lessen the performance.
What made it all the more impressive was that both had taken titles on Saturday – Adeleke in the 100m and Healy in the 400m, but they were able to dig deep enough to produce another barnstorming performance each.
The future is Adeleke’s but Healy is the woman of the moment and, all going well, she will mark her Olympic debut in Tokyo by competing in three different events – 200m, 400m and the mixed 4x400m relay. It’s a mammoth undertaking but she has already shown that she can take multi-tasking in her stride.
It’s an impressive feat that the concept of the British & Irish Lions has survived into the era of professional rugby union – if anything, it has thrived, helped by a powerful commercial machine behind it.
Ultimately, the money men and women have had an influence in making sure that this year’s tour to South Africa goes ahead, but it will lack many of the elements that make a Lions tour so special.
With the news out of South Africa at the weekend that three of the Springboks team have tested positive for Covid-19, concerns will once again be raised as to the overall viability and necessity of the tour.
Reducing the tour to just the three Test matches, all played in Cape Town, would be a solution of sorts, but it would further dilute the unique nature of the quadrennial event.
When the South African sides due to take part in the recent Rainbow Cup were not able to play against their European counterparts save for the final, that was a red flag and, while we are told that the Lions and the Sprinboks will enter “bio-secure environments” ahead of the series, it’s hard not to have some fears.
Obviously, we hope that things will be okay and the tour goes off without a hitch, all the more so as Conor Murray (left) has now been elevated to the role of captain. It’s unfortunate that skipper Alun Wyn Jones has been ruled out after picking up an injury in Saturday’s clash against Japan and Irish fans who might have been hoping that James Ryan would be called up as a replacement were left disappointed as the Leinster man isn’t fully fit either.
That rugby is a tough, attritional sport isn’t news to anyone – let’s hope that that’s the only physical risk the players have to deal with.