Friday 20 April 2018

Sport is vital in the face of hardship

THANK God for sport. In the middle of an economic recession that shows no sign of abating, we need a circus even if we have no bread. Ireland's attempt to deliver a fifth Triple Crown in seven years may have fallen at the final hurdle, but it has been an exceptional week of sporting spectacle. From the glories of Cheltenham, to some European football matches of outstanding quality and drama and Padraig Harrington's return to top form in America, sport has provided much needed distraction from the real world.

It was fitting that Ireland's first try yesterday should come from Brian O'Driscoll, an inspirational captain and unquestionably the best player of his generation, but the victory that would have capped a good season was denied by a spirited and defiant Scottish performance. Ireland's golden generation of rugby players has failed to match last season's exceptional Grand Slam, and Irish rugby's temporary stay at Croke Park ended as it began, with agonising defeat.

But there is more rugby to come, with both Munster and Leinster relaunching their Heineken Cup campaigns after Easter, and on course, if they can negotiate the knockout stages, for an all-Ireland final in Paris at the end of May. Sport may be no more than a diversion, but it is a vital one.

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