Tuesday 17 January 2017

O'Donovan grace under pressure

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

Ireland's Gary O'Donovan (right) and Paul O'Donovan (left) celebrate winning silver in the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls Final at The Lagoa Stadium on the seventh day of the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Ireland's Gary O'Donovan (right) and Paul O'Donovan (left) celebrate winning silver in the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls Final at The Lagoa Stadium on the seventh day of the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

In a funny way, one of the most impressive things about the O'Donovan brothers - and there are many things - is the fact that they did not, as they would say themselves, go on the beer last Friday night. You can be sure that plenty of people ended up on the beer to celebrate the victory of these two lads, who have, as the President said, caught the imagination of the public. But not the two medallists.

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There is always an assumption that people must "celebrate" when there is a sporting achievement. These "celebrations", as they are euphemistically known, are often said "to go on until dawn". And what we all mean by it is that people who would never stir themselves to row a boat stay up all night drinking.

This is in no way to denigrate the people of Skibbereen, some of whom may have had a late night on Friday. This was Skibb's victory, and a victory for West Cork - for a magical, marginal community where outstanding people fostered a magical, marginal sport for years and years, passing it down through generations. Skibb had every right to "celebrate".

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