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Profane Time and Sacred Time in Sport

It’s February 3rd 2019. I’m at the Cork Wexford National Hurling League match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. And I’m thinking about time. I’m thinking back to a different time, six months ago on July 29th, 2018, when last I watched the Cork senior hurlers play – against Limerick, in Croke Park in the All-Ireland semi final.

Sunshine or Shadow – We Men Must Choose

We saw the full spectrum of masculine sports behaviour over the past week or so. First up the demeaning of a young female Norwegian soccer player, Ana Hegerberg, by a boorish (male) French DJ, Martin Solveig, when – at the high point of her short but very distinguished career – he thought it acceptable to ask her to do a suggestive dance (presumably for the delectation of all the men in the room). With Nordic sangfroid she declined the offer and turned away – showing the grace and steel with which she earned her Ballon d’Or. Showing the idiot up for what he is and what he represents.

On the Futility of Comparative Analyses of Different Intangible Heritages … or … My Sport Is Better Than Yours

So. Hurling and camogie have been granted special status by the United Nations cultural body. I like the name of the list that UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) uses: the Intangible Heritage List. I would have thought hurling and camogie tangible enough, if you were given the task of being marked (pun intended) by a Catherine Foley or Daithí Burke for 60 or 70 minutes of championship fare. But I get what they mean – as distinct from buildings and objects and so on. In a way, describing sports as intangible is a good idea, because it’s the feelings we have about sports that matter, not their physical presence or essence – or importance.

Fógra: A Message from the PRO

A chairde, the PRO has asked me to pass on the following information, though the chair:   Tadhg Coakley’s novel in stories, The First Sunday in September, was shortlisted for the Mercier Press Fiction Prize, 2017 and was published by Mercier Press in August 2018. It tells the story of a fictional All-Ireland Hurling Final Sunday, from the points of view of several recurring characters, exploring recurring themes. From the book blurb: ‘It’s the day of the All-Ireland Hurling Final. A hungover Clareman goes to Dublin, having remortgaged his house and bet the last of the money on his county to win. An Englishwoman attends the final with her partner, wondering when to tell him that she’s pregnant. A long-retired player watches the match from the stands, his gaze repeatedly falling on the Cork captain, whom he and his wife gave up for adoption years earlier. Clare’s star forward struggles under

What I Feel when I’m on The Pilgrim Path to Croke Park

All of the 71,000 souls who took the pilgrim path to Croke Park yesterday to live the moment in Limerick’s exquisite win over Cork experienced a scatter of emotions. Not just those who travelled, either – but hundreds of thousands of others who watched or listened in. Here are some of mine before the game. A sense of intention, of purpose, when I wake in the holiday home five minutes before 6am. Up and at ‘em. Here we go, here we go, here we go, and all that. Mount Brandon is stretching itself up into clouds, as it usually does. The gate leaves a creaky grumble when I free the latch. The water on Smerwick Harbour is a slate grey, waves flecking the surface.

To Win Just Once – The Game Is On

So, anyway, I wrote this book. I got down off the ditch and into the game. Great view from the ditch, you can hold forth in high judgement and you can hide there, in the crowd. Not easy being inside the white lines, against tough opposition, making a show of yourself with everybody looking at you. Nowhere to hide. But I did it, anyway.

Admiration, Wonder, Joy.

Sport is about emotion. I’ve said this before. Other things too, but mostly emotion. And sometimes the emotions aren’t good but we seek them out anyway. We make ourselves vulnerable to them, we put ourselves out there. We let ourselves be open and exposed. Not a common stance for men. We stick our unprotected heads above the parapet in the full knowledge we could get our blocks knocked off.

England v Belgium – We’re Never Really Neutral

An English novelist, a wonderful writer whom I greatly admire, Tweeted yesterday after Germany were knocked out of the World Cup. He wished there was a word that would denote one taking pleasure in another’s misery. Haha, very good. And fair enough, too. The English have suffered a lot over the past 12 years, not winning one knockout game in any championship. Meantime, Germany only went and bloody won the last World Cup in the Maracanã, claiming their fourth in all. Three more than England.

It’s been dry, it’s been very dry. . .

It’s been dry, it’s been very dry here in Cork City by the Lee, my hometown here in the deep south. [APPLAUSE] Yes it’s been a very dry Autumn, and also very still for weeks now, hardly a puff of wind, which means that we still have a spectacular Autumn array of colourful leaves on the trees, even though we’re coming into November and on past All Soul’s Day. Wonderful colours on the leaves on the branches of the sweet chestnut trees, down by Pairc Ui Chaoimh, on the lime trees by the Marina, on the sycamore trees lining Colmcille Avenue in Mayfield and down The North Ring Road, on the weeping willows and the great willows in the Lee Fields, on the walnut trees in John F. Kennedy Park.

Who I’m Cheering For in World Cup 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard, in his book Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game, shares a series of letters with his friend Fredrik Ekelund about the 2014 World Cup. In his first letter he says that he will always cheer on Argentina and Italy in such competitions. And he does this because both teams are traditionally cynical, they never do ‘anything beautiful for the sake of beautiful, only if there is some outcome.’ And the fact that they can do so, but hold back, appeals to something deep in side him.