Even as the clocks go forward this week, there is a yearning to rewind: Back to an hour before anxiety closed in all around us like a junkyard car-crusher.
To remember life pre-Covid-19’s grotesque besmirching of our old normality. When crisis was a tightening of Jack McCaffrey’s hamstring or Johnny Sexton suddenly resembling a stalled motor in urgent need of jump leads.
A facemask was something Gazza wore to protect a damaged eye-socket; incessantly, apprehensively washing hands (of responsibility) was the default Shane Ross reaction when quizzed about John Delaney.
A time so carefree that a few incendiary words from Joe Brolly or Roy Keane or The Dunph himself were parsed and audited as if they amounted to some grave State of the Union address by a wartime commander-in-chief.
Oh, for Brolly now, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, delivering an unforgettable 'Here’s Johnny' crescendo: Pupils behind his eye-glasses dilating as if their owner is rehearsing for the lead role in an Irish Breaking Bad, Colm O’Rourke edging away from the epicentre of the blast he knows is imminent, the Sunday Game director urging Michael Lyster to cut to an ad break.
Golden, jaunty yesteryear.
Or those hours of sorcery: Lionel Messi, LeBron James or Seamie Callanan touching a level of divinity that ensured there was not a single sporting atheist in the audience.
When a referee’s idea of a microscopic irritant was Wexford’s wonderful liberator Davy Fitz fuming and ranting and screaming injustice along some muddied touchline.
Remember anticipation? A pint of stout in the paw and, outside, the smell of fresh cut grass inviting us to the amphitheatre, a reminder summer’s dance had begun.
It is less than two weeks since Liverpool and Atletico Madrid went toe-to-toe at Anfield, but already it feels like a fossilised memory, so ancient that Fred Flinstone could well have partnered Virgil van Dijk at centre-back.
March has brought with it a terrible reconfiguring of the everyday, a jolt to the senses so concussive it might have been administered by Tyson Fury’s unforgiving hands of stone.
Euro 2020, a GAA summer, the Masters, Premier League, Six Nations and – shortly, inevitably, despite the OCI’s unconscionably pompous posturing, the Tokyo Olympics - have been machine-gunned down by an invisible, rapacious and terrifying enemy.
Sport, a mirror of life itself, is stuck in a Siberian permafrost. All we can do is greedily anticipate the thaw.
That first afternoon when the long silence is broken, the birdsong of an alive-again arena like a symphony of joy, might, when it comes sashaying back into our universe, be the greatest gift any of us have ever known.
A friend, a lifer on Hill 16, said to me this week that he’d live with Dublin losing to Kerry, Mayo and Tyrone in the Super 8s, he’d nearly be happy for Meath to be good again, if it just meant there were games to go and watch.
He was joking and deadly serious. His novena was for the world to spin again on that old insouciant axis which for decades we took for granted.
This is a time of horror: A cocktail of fear, uncertainty and helplessness has left us drunk on unease.
Apocalyptic newsreel from Italy, Ireland’s elderly waving at grandchildren from behind a heartbreaking prison of glass, jobs dissolving into the ether, all of these things are shaking society to its core.
It is a new and changed planet.
O’Neill’s, that iconic outfitter of hurlers and footballers, has suspended the manufacture of GAA gear and, is instead, mass-producing medical scrubs.
Next to humanity’s fight for the high ground in the war with this merciless plague, sport is a triviality.
And yet, it matters. Profoundly: For our physical and mental well-being; for the unrivalled sense of community with which it decorates the year; for escapism, those life-affirming days when it makes an entire tribe feel a thousand feet tall.
Sport is a kind of oxygen for the soul.
Think of bunting and flags flying in a small village, a mini-Times Square of joy, the sunburst of pride as a parish comes together to follow their own into a county final.
Remember how you told your Da you loved him that woozy afternoon, 30 years ago when Dave O’Leary’s penalty washed away every trouble you had ever known and you floated above the clouds?
Sons of Leitrim know the July Sunday in 1994 at The Hyde when Declan Darcy raised the Nestor Cup as intimately as they do a favourite inking: Because it is tattooed to their essence, singed into their spirit.
With one kick in 1982, Seamus Darby sent a tsunami of liberation washing over Offaly; with his 1980 Gaelic poetry, Joe Connolly gifted Galway their eternal proclamation; Liam Griffin and Ger Loughnane offered Wexford and Clare guided, access-all-areas tours of Nirvana.
Shane Lowry carried Ireland to the summit of Mount Euphoria at Portrush last summer.
Katie, Sonia, ROG, BOD, Eamonn Coghlan, Stephen Roche, Ken Doherty, Barry McGuigan and Pádraig Harrington have, on those days of thunder when they touched the heavens, couriered an imperishable glow to our front-door.
For endless thousands on this island, Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds or Celtic have the power to flick a switch that transports them to that pitch of emotional intensity where they feel most vividly, vibrantly alive.
If this new darkness has stolen the planet’s normality, there is one geographic coordination the virus cannot touch: The fantasy island of our imagination.
Here, we are forever impregnable.
So, as the clock advances an hour this week, rewind a month, a year or a decade. Reunited with a day when you walked on air.
My sanctuary is September 18, 2011, Stephen Cluxton kicking the free that broke Kerry and slipped his name through the mailbox of sporting legend.
Wherever in your heart your treasure lies, summon it, hug it and don’t let go: Allow it reconfigure itself, until it is a lifebuoy keeping you afloat.
Telling the toxic, virus-infested waters that today you will not go under.