Saturday 7 December 2019

Contest worthy of Elysian Fields from our small island

• I am looking forward to hearing the Lambeg drum and the bodhran booming over the hallowed turf of Twickenham on May 19.

Methinks that misty-eyed sentimentalists who perceive a metaphor for a united Ireland through the metamorphosis of sport misapprehend the enormity of the occasion.

The team they once dared to deride as the Lady Boys have become a brute force in European rugby. But the Bushmills is being tapped to lubricate many's the rusty larynx to give blood-curdling cries of 'No Surrender.'

I for one, can't see the croppies lying down, nor can I see the Red Hand wilting. What I do envisage is a contest worthy of the Elysian Fields.

They say that sport and politics do not mix -- they need not worry. At the right temperature, when a game reaches melting-point, a purification occurs and all such contaminations evaporate.

Those that want it the most emerge with the spoils, and the vanquished can scarcely complain.

There is nothing more abject in humankind than the scars of a sore loser. Yet it is remarkable to see two teams emerging on so small an island, from a continent of hundreds of millions, to represent the finest of the game.

Whether your heart is green, orange, colour-blind, or pure feckless; one has to acknowledge this achievement.

Sport has many unfathomable mysteries: not least of these is why Ireland, as a team, is less than the sum of its parts, whereas the shadows of Leinster and Ulster have eclipsed the rest of Europe.

For conundrums such as these the ball of malt and the pint of plain are surely -- or should that be "Aye shuuurley" -- yer only man. In anticipation of such a potentially ferocious clash one might heed the cautionary words of one Thomas Sowell, who pointed out: "Nearly half the high school sports injuries that lead to paralysis or death occur among cheerleaders." Supporters, you have been warned.

But as the old saw goes, while players win matches it is teams that win championships, so let's hope that there are no pre-final hiccoughs in the H-Cup.

G G Thomas
Monkstown, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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