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The qualities we often demand of our sporting icons could be priceless assets in months ahead

Dermot Gilleece



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'With his activities as Europe's Ryder Cup captain on hold, the irrepressible Pádraig Harrington has found a way of keeping the Harrington brand before the public'

'With his activities as Europe's Ryder Cup captain on hold, the irrepressible Pádraig Harrington has found a way of keeping the Harrington brand before the public'

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'With his activities as Europe's Ryder Cup captain on hold, the irrepressible Pádraig Harrington has found a way of keeping the Harrington brand before the public'

Strange things have happened to me during more than 61 years in journalism, but nothing like this. Never before have I felt in fear for my life from the world around me, not even during an Irish Open bomb-scare at Woodbrook in 1975.

From a sporting perspective, the seriousness of the current situation gained chilling resonance on St Patrick's Day. While the GAA's way of celebrating our national feast has changed significantly through the years, I have always clung to boyhood images from the Railway Cup.

That was when heroic figures such as Jimmy Smyth of Clare, Mick Spain of Offaly and Roscommon's Gerry O'Malley among others, were accorded the rare opportunity of displaying their hurling skills at inter-provincial level, on the game's greatest stage. They had the honour of rubbing shoulders with familiar icons like Christy Ring, Norman Allen, John Doyle and the Rackard brothers.