Friday 18 October 2019

Editorial: 'Ireland's joyous sporting banquet switches codes'

Sinéad Goldrick, left, and Hannah O'Neill of Dublin lift the the Brendan Martin Cup with Freya Bohan, daughter of Dublin manager Mick Bohan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Sinéad Goldrick, left, and Hannah O'Neill of Dublin lift the the Brendan Martin Cup with Freya Bohan, daughter of Dublin manager Mick Bohan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Editorial

Editorial

Appropriately, the women Gaelic players have brought down the curtain on another sporting summer feast of hurling and football. And, as we take a moment to gather breath, the Irish nation's attention will soon refocus on the fortunes of our national rugby and soccer sides.

The GAA women continue to stake out a visible place in our national sport which they have in so many ways supported and sustained, going back to the organisation's foundation in 1884.

The Dublin women footballers made it three-in-a-row in a contest with valiant Galway. So, jersey-washing and tea-making are no longer just the prerogative of women - these days women also hurl and play football with great courage and élan, and even in Croke Park before large audiences, so you had better get used to it lads.

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Meanwhile, on Saturday evening we were treated to a great contest between the men of Dublin, successfully fighting for a first-ever five-in-a-row win of the Sam Maguire Cup, and those great stalwarts from Kerry, who have forgotten more about the big day in Croker than many of us can ever remember.

In the end, the Dublin side were very worthy winners as they crossed an historic turning point. No team has won five consecutive All-Irelands - so all hail the all-conquering Dubs.

It is equally encouraging to note that our native game is strong in the centre which has the biggest number of people. Most people outside the capital were supportive of the underdogs on the day, but the Dubs' attractive brand of attacking football was also much appreciated by sports fans across the nation. Over two games the Kerry players reciprocated Dublin's approach, redeeming the game from a reputation for sluggishness and cynicism.

But this young Kerry side will also reflect upon what might have been in various turning points in that engaging and epic game. There are many examples. There was Eoin Murchan of Na Fianna's sensational Dublin goal just after half-time. And against that there was the Kenmare superb goal-poacher Stephen O'Brien's failed goal attempt in the 52nd minute. On such heart-stopping flashes do big games turn. And so it was on Saturday night in Croke Park as the entire nation looked on with bated breath.

The Dublin footballers will drive on with realistic hopes of taking things further and winning even more. Kerry, and other great teams in Mayo, Tyrone, Cork, Donegal and elsewhere will think otherwise.

And so, we look to rugby and soccer as always to engage us as the nights draw in.

This coming week we will focus hopefully upon the fortunes of Joe Schmidt's charges to fly the flag in the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The rugby squad carries huge hopes for us all.

At the same time the Republic of Ireland soccer team, under the marvellous Mick McCarthy, carry our hopes of European competition qualification.

The year 2019 is turning - but Ireland's sporting banquet continues.

We just have the joyous option of switching codes.

Irish Independent

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