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Monday 21 January 2019

Brendan O'Connor: Katie KOs Angela Merkel and co

Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

The message of the past week is clear. We are better off without a government. You can't fail to have noticed how things have improved since they've been gone.

We're much happier in the hands of the blessed trinity of John Joe Nevin, Katie Taylor and the Holy Spirit. Friday, the day after Katie's win, was as close to a perfect day as there ever was in Dublin. As the sun shone on Henry Street, the girls were opportunistically stripped off with varying degrees of success. South Anne Street was impassible as good-natured revellers, who'd knocked off early from work stood outside Kehoe's drinking, celebrating Katie Taylor's gold as she would have wanted them to -- not.

And for once the talk among the alfresco drinkers was neither the euro nor the economy, Katie Taylor had swept Angela Merkel away. It was all where were you and did you cry yourself or were you just content to see grown men cry?

We are all from Bray now. And we are all experts on female boxing. Even that moment when a country held its breath for a result, unsure that Katie had done enough in the final round, was remembered lovingly. Because the Irish, we don't like things to be too perfect. And just to show that we still have our eye to business, much of the talk was about exactly how Katie would make some cash from her success.

Friday showed how easily we forgive and forget. A summer of pain in soccer and rugby and weather was forgotten, as everyone became, literally, fair-weather fans. And everything up to now melted away as for once we didn't talk bitterly about the past or worry for the future. It just felt like a perfect now, and we basked in it. We forgave and forgot the weather, the Euros and even anything in the now heroic Cian O'Connor's past.

We even learnt during the week that consumer confidence was up. It was as if we dared to dream, if only for a day, that we were again the little country that could. We kidded ourselves that the world shared in our euphoria, that there was only one sport that mattered in the Olympics and that was boxing, and that there was only one gold medal worth winning and that was women's lightweight 60kg boxing.

Belgium created a world record in December after it went 19 months without a government. On the evidence of last week, many of us wondered if that shouldn't be Ireland's next achievement, to become world record holders in going without a government. Life has been sweet without them. In fact, looking back on that distant past when they were on the scene, which seems like a lifetime away, we would have to admit that they were depressing us slightly, holding us back. We were like one of those beaten-down women who isn't allowed to achieve her potential by a controlling boyfriend.

They will regret they went on holiday. Because we've learnt there is a life outside of them. We've learnt that a Traveller from Mullingar and a brilliant, beautiful born-again from Bray is what we need to galvanise the country and snap us out of our funk.

Today the sun is all but gone, but hopefully Olympic gold will shine on for another little while and remind us all that no matter how much you beat us down, in one sense, you'll never beat the Irish.

Sunday Independent

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