Friday 30 September 2016

Farewell, man with the plan

Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30

Billy Walsh
Billy Walsh

And so the giddy highs and the crushing lows of Irish life continue. And let's face it. We wouldn't have it any other way, would we? We live for the wild exhilaration of the impossible dream, that we could be the greatest little country in the world for something. And in a strange way, we enjoy the crushing defeat too, the crash back to reality.

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For a week or two, briefly, we were the best little country in the world for rugby. And as that dream was fading, we had the consolation of being the best little country in the world for amateur boxing. We all prepared to switch our temporary expertise from the oval ball to the boxing ring, in anticipation of a boxing frenzy and the greatest Olympics ever next year. It's like a pared-back version of UFC, we told ourselves. UFC with fewer martial arts. And let's face it, if we could get behind UFC we could hail anything as the most important sport ever.

And then we screwed up again. We lost the man with the plan.

Because of our natural self loathing, we Irish can only believe we are good at anything due to the superhuman powers of one person. It's not us, it's them. So we're not good at airlines per se, but Willie Walsh and Michael O'Leary are. We have always put responsibility for soccer success, or failure, firmly onto one man too, from Jack to Roy. And then, of course, there is Joe Schmidt, surely the only manager in sporting history who was begged to stay after crashing out of a tournament.

And now it was Billy Walsh. And somehow we fumbled the ball. And we lost Billy. And Billy got on the plane and took all our dreams with him. Katie will have to see Billy in the other corner. We'll all have to see Billy in the other corner, dancing on our dreams. And we're here, left behind, sifting through the embers of where it all went wrong. There are Dail Committees and there will no doubt be inquiries. And in our own way we are enjoying all this too.

We also take a perverse pleasure in dispatching people who seem to be reasonably good at what they do. Subconsciously, we think that this is no country for excellence, and these kinds of difficult perfectionists who want to do things properly are really better off abroad.

We managed to get rid of the Web Summit as well. And not even to America. Those guys went to Portugal, apparently finding the administration there more can-do than ours.

If we keep this up, we will soon manage to rid ourselves of anyone who does anything right. Let them go off, with their impossibly high standards, and we will console ourselves with arguing about what went wrong, ultimately deciding that there was nothing that could be done, that they were just using the uselessness of the people who run things in Ireland as an excuse. And then, when we have turned on them, we will be happy again, as we wait for the next high.

Sunday Independent

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