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We have many delights ahead of us despite Covid-19

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'We are witnessing the return of many of our beloved field games' (stock image)

'We are witnessing the return of many of our beloved field games' (stock image)

'We are witnessing the return of many of our beloved field games' (stock image)

As September lands on the calendar and the evenings shorten, some Irish people may feel they have little enough to look forward to. Usually at this time of year, we had the early autumn garnish of All-Ireland finals, the throngs of town and country at the National Ploughing Championship, and other groups flocking to watch the return of rugby.

Unfortunately, most of these delights are not happening this year. Or, they are not happening in the format which has for so long engaged us and eased our potential autumn blues.

But since September is for many people the start of a new year, we need to maintain a positive outlook. Succumbing to despondency only compounds our problems. So, it is time to look on the many advantages we still enjoy in this strange time of Covid-19 - and on the prospects of moves back to the more regular life we knew just six months ago.

The month of September, which starts tomorrow, is traditionally the start of the school year. But for many beyond the confines of formal education, it is also a chance to broach new challenges.

For many people, the more clement weather, and often the recharge of energies after a welcome summer break, make this a more apt time to think anew and ring some changes. Challenges seem less daunting than in the raw January weather and low finances after Christmas excesses.

What are these advantages, these silver linings, these hidden delights which can lift our mood and stave off the pre-winter blues? Well, we can firstly take heart from progress so far on the tentative opening of our schools.

This is crucial for the welfare of a rising generation of students. Schools and colleges re-opening will be a relief to teachers and parents also.

We have grounds to hope that this will be achieved, setting a cornerstone for the return of social, economic and political normalcy in this Covid-19 era. Most of us feel, with good cause, that if we can see the schools re-opened, other changes can follow - always provided we keep the guidelines to safeguard public health.

We are witnessing the return of many of our beloved field games - even if enjoyment is for now restricted to television, radio and live online streaming. But we are looking at GAA club games in hurling and football and the return of rugby, that great autumn resort which always promised to shorten the winter.

We are promised upcoming rugby internationals and the GAA continues to doggedly prepare for hurling and football All-Irelands in the strange and unseasonable time of just before Christmas. There is every chance these will be very different experiences for a sports-obsessed people - but they will also be savoured.

The country is heading into a new phase in the battle against Covid-19. Many of us are understandably weary. But the virus is relentless, dispassionate, devoid of any semblance of emotion.

One of our few assets in the battle against Covid-19 is a strong spirit born of optimism and hope. There are many sources around to feed those positive feelings. It is up to each of us to find them.

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