Wednesday 7 December 2016

Bad manners make for sad Patrick's Day

Hugh Farrelly

Published 19/03/2010 | 05:00

IT has not been a good week for decorum. We've had the annual Cheltenham slobber-fest with the unedifying spectacle of bluffers (who would not ordinarily be able to tell the difference between a panto donkey and a Budweiser Clydesdale) barging one another aside to claim the best spoof spot under the office television.

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Parroted dogma flows like sewage and stinks to the same degree. "I'm telling ye, the going doesn't suit him" or "AP should have given her more whip up the hill", and it is one of those occasions when opinions are bellowed rather than offered in the mistaken belief they will acquire more gravitas as a result.

Slagging off another sport could attract their own accusations of a lack of decorum but in this instance we are exonerated by the unswerving belief that horse racing is not a sport.

Take the betting out of soccer and you would still get a full house for Liverpool versus Manchester United in Anfield, take the betting out of racing and you are left with a group of horses in a race that no one gives a Shergar about. If we had our way, racing would be reported in the business pages with race cards housed next to the stocks and shares listings.

If Cheltenham was bad, St Patrick's Day was worse. After a trip to Limerick to take in the Munster Senior Schools rugby final, arriving back into Dublin city on Wednesday night was like walking through the time tunnel into the sacking of Troy.

If it is obligatory to wear over-sized leprechaun hats to celebrate our patron saint then it appears urinating and vomiting on the street is equally compulsory -- put the hats to better use, boys.

Ireland has turned the feast of St Patrick into one of the least decorous occasions on the international calendar and for what? At the end of the day the man was Welsh.

The train to and from Limerick did not do anything to improve the civility deficiency.

The journey down was ruined by a middle-aged gentleman with a serious Tayto Smokey Bacon problem -- with subsequent open-mouthed mastication consequences -- and on the way back we had the phone-obsessed, megaphone-voiced teenager who allowed us to deduce (repeatedly) that she was indeed "on the train".

The Cup final itself was an entertaining, well-contested affair which saw PBC Cork overcome a spirited challenge from Rockwell College to claim their 28th senior title.

Unfortunately, the post-match formalities exhibited further evidence of the absence of etiquette which has dominated the week. It fell to PBC joint-captain David O'Mahony to carry out the traditional victory speech duties which follow a set formula of thanking referee, sponsors, coaches, team-mates and supporters before vanquished opponents get a consolatory three cheers.

The ceremony was held with the players on the pitch and supporters in the stand -- never the preferred scenario as it always better with victory ceremonies to have it the other way around.

But that was not the issue. The problem was that, while O'Mahony was in mid-speech, the Rockwell contingent turned and walked to the far corner of the pitch where they formed a tight huddle. It meant that when O'Mahony led the crowd in 'three cheers for Rockwell' they fell upon the backs of their retreating players.

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As a former PBC student, adopting this position could be mistaken as an attack on Rockwell. Far from it. If the situation were reversed and the same slight had occurred, there would be no change in stance.

For many of the Rockwell team it was a second final reverse in succession and, when you are that age, defeat can feel like your world coming apart but the decision to turn and walk away during the winning speech -- whether taken by player or management -- was ill-conceived and mis-representative (as shown by players subsequently offering their congratulations to the victors).

Just as victory must be accepted with grace, so too defeat and that lesson needs to be taught, and learned, early.

The week ends with Ireland's bid to capture their fifth Triple Crown in seven seasons against Scotland tomorrow. While claiming that silverware is massively important to this team, there is also a determination to pay homage to the GAA by ending rugby's stay in Croke Park in fitting style.

It would be rude not to.

Irish Independent

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