Gaelic Football

Saturday 12 July 2014

Billy Keane: It's high time to accept we all live on a moving ball

Billy Keane

Published 01/12/2012|05:00

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THE earth is flat and people fall off the edge. Well that was the way it was, wasn't it? Still though, you would think it's time now we accepted we live on a moving ball.

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It was in Ballybunion on a day made for flies. Hot and summery. I am no expert on the subject, but it seems many flies only live for a day and so, as you might well expect, they make the most of it.

This fly was one of the kind that is usually found on the business end of a cow's tail. He must have wandered on to the famous links by the Atlantic in search of a better life among the butterflies and the buttercups.

I look out the window now and the winter tea-time sky is the blue-black of a coalminer's bathwater and you'd have to wonder if we'll ever again get to see a Red Admiral or a field of daisies.

This fly was an adventurous insect. He stopped for a while on my golf ball and as I was in down-swing, it was too late to bail out or shout fore. I sliced the ball out into the long grass. I wasn't too thankful to the little insect. I didn't get to be as low as 19 by accident. If Caroline Wozniacki was around back in my day, she wouldn't have been able to keep her hands off me.

One of our search party found the ball in rough so deep, you would sort of half expect one of De Valera's irregulars to run out with his hands up asking was the civil war over.

And guess what? There he was, the fly that is, still stuck to the ball. There is a Buddhist somewhere in all of us and I spared Evil Knievel. He was well entitled to his day out. I often wonder what became of him.

Yes, we live on a ball and sometimes we show all the signs of it. Many of us go a little mad on the full moon which is an intrinsic part of the cosmic juggler's keepy-uppy.

This month's full moon came out to play on Wednesday last and I was lucky enough to witness the best game of football I have seen for a long time.

The match was played under lights in Austin Stack Park in Tralee. The moon was that bright and big, the Kerry final could have been played even if the floodlights were switched off.

St Michael's, my old school, trained by All-Ireland winners Johnny Mulvihill and Liam Hassett, won the night. The game went to extra-time and it was a thriller. Eamonn Fitzmaurice's alma mater Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn from Tra Li were the runners-up. They played the game at pace and with great skill.

I had close kin on our team and I was very proud to come from this school where every small platoon is a battalion. There is no fear of the game of Gaelic football.

The game was played the Kerry way and after the Donegal way was discussed.

There's no doubt that there's a fierce streak of independence in the Donegal people. They play their own way and it's up to everyone else to find a way to beat them.

But now that they are All-Ireland champions, Donegal are open season, even in the closed season.

The critic I spoke to said if there was a referendum to give free television licences, Donegal would vote no.

And maybe they might get behind the flat earth party.

Yes, we are back again at the start. Jonathan Sexton was severely criticised for not playing flat enough against South Africa. In other words, he was accused of standing too far behind his forwards. Then the experts told us he was flat against Argentina. He learned, they said.

The 10 can only play flat when his team is going forward, which means the other team is going backwards and so it's easier to run at them.

In the second half against South Africa, our pack were retreating, so our 10 had to step back to allow himself the time to get the ball away before the marauding South Africans got to him.

If the 10 is too flat in such situations, it's a bit like trying to kick or pass while walking backwards off a stepladder. So, there you have it.

Rugby bores take in a new buzz expression every few years. For a while it was 'hard yards'. For a semester, it was 'pick and go' before 'man up' took over. For a year, it was 'bouncebackability' and then you had get the right speed to say 'crouch, touch, pause and engage'.

The one most loved now by GAA pundits is 'shot selection.' When the ball goes wide they say it was 'poor shot selection' as if the misfortunate played the wrong leg from the bag of limbs he was carrying in a bag on his back.

Balderdash is like the flu. Highly contagious it is, but, unlike the flu, those who are not infected suffer most.

Irish Independent

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