The pandemic seems to have been good for one sport - golf. When footballers and hurlers could not do anything else they were able to play golf, so many clubs have had a surge in membership. The fact that occasional golfers who just paid green fees could only play now as members forced their hand. The choice was join or don't play at all. So a game which was struggling to attract new young members has been given a boost. It's an ill wind that does not blow some good.
The Department of Health used to be the place to dump a minister. It was once described as 'Angola' - a place where only problems emerged and never solutions. Now that title seems to have been transferred to education, and last week we had another example of how not to do things.
Not long ago I was in the hawks' camp in wanting to get our games going quicker. When it came to easing restrictions the GAA were behind the curve as the leadership took a conservative route. There was nothing necessarily wrong with that approach either.
Last week, the GAA got tough. Neither John Horan nor Tom Ryan should have to speak softly and carry a big stick, but if county boards don't or won't carry out directives from Croke Park then the whole organisation becomes ungovernable
It's a pity that all of the goodwill generated by the return to play did not last long. Faction fighting was a feature of GAA activity in the past. The fists and sticks have been replaced by more sophisticated methods but everyone still fights their corner so it only took a few days before the usual club/county conflict emerged.
The GAA's roadmap for a resumption of football and hurling has been welcomed. But there are many GAA supporters I mix with who do not share the view that it is welcome news. They believe the GAA could have done more.
I have read many considered pieces over the last couple of months on the subject of fixtures in the GAA. The words that kept cropping up most were 'amend', 'reform', 'improve', 'adjust' and, my favourite, 'recalibrate'. The general drift has been that this period of inactivity is an opportunity for a major overhaul of the fixtures calendar.
In being the bearer of bad news last week, GAA president John Horan found himself in a bind created by Government policy. However, he at least left himself an out, in the form of a new advisory group to help plot some kind of road back for Gaelic games.
The axe came down last Friday and the Leaving Cert exams were abandoned. It has all been a bit messy. The last to know through this whole saga have been the students, teachers and parents drip-fed information from the media.
We have reached the point where different worlds collide. The yearning for some sort of respite or normality is being doused by the scientists and medics. If all this is taken to its natural conclusion, there will be no movement towards old normality until a vaccine arrives. Don't hold your breath on that one. In real terms, Friday's announcement changed little.
The canals in Venice are getting cleaner and clearer. The education waters in Ireland are getting muddier by the day. When the minister decided to abandon the Leaving Cert in June with no other plan in place, there was utter confusion among parents, students and teachers. I was bombarded by people looking for answers. When will the exams begin? What is the story about classes in July? Will school reopen in May or even September? What is happening with the Junior Cert? Will teachers off in June or July or be expected to teach in class or online? What is the plan?
When we emerge back into the light there will be a few Robinson Crusoe lookalikes. Crusoe was marooned on a desert island for years and arrived back into civilisation with shaggy hair and a long beard. Tom Hanks had a siimiliar experience in Castaway, except he had no Friday, Crusoe's man servant, when he made a return.
All secondary students should have been starting their Easter holidays this Friday. A time for a bit of freedom, with Leaving Cert students in particular using it as a time for a more relaxed study regime. Instead, we are caught in the half light, not knowing whether school will resume at all or maybe on a phased basis for exam classes. The phrase ''school is out'' has taken on a new meaning.
A fellow principal rang me recently to relay how well this online teaching was working. Safe to say many were sceptical of how some students would adapt to life away from the structure of the classroom. Anyway, the worst fears are allayed.
This is the long day's journey into night. It may take a while but games will resume, people will argue, laugh and complain about such trivial things as football, or maybe such important things as football. Our games measure the temperature of the nation during the year and when they return we will think even more of them. A bad county match, a brilliant junior B club game and even more so a group of under 10s going at it... these scenes colour our lives.
I watched a recording last Thursday night of an Aussie Rules match between Richmond and Carlton. It was the opening match of the new season, with Richmond starting as champions from 2019. The game was played in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is a massive stadium with a capacity of around 100,000. It looked amazing. Mainly because it was empty.
The GAA world came crashing down in a few minutes last week. It is a reminder that for all the improvements in technology and advancements in science, we still only have limited control of our destiny as the outbreak of a virus in China can cripple the world within a few months. The global community has costs as well as benefits.
This time it is the calm after the storm. Last weekend was another one of disruption. The GAA must have had a falling out with the weather gods as almost every weekend of serious action in the last month has coincided with a storm.
I have been critical many times in the past of those who have decided that the paying public in Croke Park cannot be trusted with replays on the big screen of controversial (and not so controversial) incidents. At the slightest hint of danger, the screens flash to an advertisement. Censorship GAA style. Meanwhile, over in Lansdowne Road, all acts of foul play are replayed over and over again without any rioting in the streets.
In his book, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens asserts his belief in the possibility of resurrection and transformation in society. Perhaps there is a modern novel in a tale of two counties, Galway and Meath, and their recent travails in football.
I was in Croke Park last Sunday and there was no football played to insulate against the cold. After four hours of watching from two o'clock, with a poor enough game of hurling to start, we had to wait until six o'clock before Corofin produced the sort of football they have become known for.
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