Sport Hurling

Sunday 21 September 2014

Let's lose obsession with predictions and enjoy the glorious little details

Ger Gilroy

Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30

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Séamus Hickey shows his dejection after Limerick's All-Ireland semi-final defeat. Photo: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
Séamus Hickey shows his dejection after Limerick's All-Ireland semi-final defeat. Photo: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

At the end of our preview on Off the Ball last Saturday with Tommy Dunne and Seamus Hickey, I asked them both for predictions on who was going to win the Cork-Tipp game.

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It was a mistake. I knew then that it somehow sullied the previous ten minutes where we'd got an understanding of what it was like to coach and play against both these teams.

Who cares about the prediction when we might learn the secrets of how and why instead of who?

We'd heard so much about the Tipp forwards' ability to manufacture space, but how did they do it? Hickey talked forensically about the difficulties man-markers have when they play against wandering forwards who are detailed to drag the good defenders away from the edge of the square.

When to go and when to stay, how far is too far? It made the thousand split-second decisions each player makes in a game sound like a real dilemma.

Suddenly that half-yard a hesitant man-marker concedes to a quality forward allows the attacker find the space vacated by the corner-back in two minds, and it's a goal.

Now we have sympathy, some deeper understanding. The end of a season for an entire county hinges at various stages on an individual tussle. A year's work blown in a hesitant footstep.

When did we all decide that we value the ability to predict outcomes of sports events over an illumination of the little details that will make watching them better experiences.

It's a funny thing - like insisting on knowing the sex of your child before birth - an itchy need to know the future even though experiencing that uncertainty is one of the greatest things that life has to offer us.

It turns out watching for the little things is a vastly more enjoyable experience than cheering for the team you accidentally picked to win.

I guess I'm promising to stop asking people who they think will win for the sake of asking.

Here's to more light and less heat.

Irish Independent

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