By Colin Sheridan
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder
- Patrick Kavanagh, Advent
I wonder what Patrick Kavanagh would have made of Twitter? Would he have lost endless afternoons down by the Grand Canal, drowning deep in a wormhole of a thread of a spat between Ginsberg, Neal Cassidy and some faceless wonder with a moniker like @beatpoetssuck, before checking in on whether the dance was actually going ahead in Billy Brennan’s barn that night? Let’s be happy he didn’t have the distraction.
It has its uses of course. Some of the longest evenings of my formative years were spent waiting for phones to ring. You would think, given the tension that we were waiting on word of a fallen brother at the Somme. No, just the result of a Sigerson Cup preliminary round.
The call would inevitably come around 11pm, and, I learned over time, the later the call, the worse the news. A cursory glance at Twitter could have saved us all a lot of anxiety and crucially given me more much need time with my algebra.
I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeonly malcontent. While I’m hardly a millennial, I didn’t go to school through the fields barefoot either. I cringe at the notion that society, and sport especially, were somehow better back when men were men and contraception was a fanciful continental concept. I’ve watched enough All-Ireland Golds on TG4 to appreciate that things were not as halcyon as some would have us believe. Eighties kids like me, we are the great chameleons. We were there when you had to dial the local post office to make a phone call, yet we can seamlessly Snapchat with the best of ‘em. We lived through our own troubles, sure. Blur and Oasis specifically. They were dark days, but we endured. What a shame then, to survive all of that, only to fall to the evils of the bottomless pit of the weaponised idiocy that is Twitter.
Our visits there are almost always pure in intention. You want to catch up on an ongoing game or find a gif of the sublimity you heard LeBron served up the night previous. Before too long, however, you are once again duped into clicking a link on “an astonishing act of courageous sportsmanship” from somebody or another only to find it’s a clip of a rugby player pat another on the back, or worse still, read a comment that a journalist you like is just an inbred moron for expressing his measured view that England overachieved at this World Cup.
The aftermath of last year’s All-Ireland football final became a virtual battleground of cybernetic guerilla warfare. It’s MMA thru verbiage. What is the point? This is just sport. We only engage in the entire social construct because of a shared love of it.
It seems we have finally tested and tasted too much. On Twitter and in the new media, everything is a priority. So, nothing is. Less is left to the imagination and more to gifs and memes. The one thing it needs is the last thing it can ever have: An editor.
That’s the beauty though, right?
If Kavanagh were alive I could tweet him this very moment and ask him did he write “the damned are damned because they enjoy being damned” about Mayo football.
He might never respond. And if he didn’t I could call him out for it. Mock his family. But he just might. And that possibility of that connection is often the closest any of us mere mortals get to greatness. A follow. A like. A retweet. An all-out Twitter feud...
The Super 8s sounds like a soul group that Gladys Knight would have left to join the Pips. Or, if somebody asked you to get a Super 8 from the shop you would automatically assume they meant an ice-cream: “Can I have two super 8s and a Wibbly Wobbly Wonder please?” as an example. Even though this new Championship construct has been alive in our consciousness for over a year now, it is still a hard concept to reconcile with, not least because it feels like we have lived through two Championship summers already.
Yet, here we are, on the last week of a memorable if seemingly never-ending World Cup, and the Championship starts proper. I just wonder are we all a little too fatigued? This could get very old very quick. Dublin’s typically efficient dispatching of Donegal was as ominous as it was predictable.
Tyrone’s hammering of Roscommon was perhaps more surprising but no less symbolic in the consequence that the gulf between the first and second four teams seems quite disparate. Three weekends of similar fare could grate on the consumers’ confidence that this is an idea worth planning our summers around, especially as our summers have suddenly become quite Tuscan. Time will ultimately tell.
What the GAA needs is the underdog teams to start stepping up, a la Kildare versus Mayo, otherwise far from being super, these will quickly become the Obvious 8s.
Rumblings of discontent over ticket prices for games happening on back-to-back weekends have started as a whisper, but if the quality is not there, soon, neither will the people. It’s the hardest thing for the suits to sometimes grasp, but, less is sometimes more.
Cristiano Ronaldo bade an emotional farewell to Real Madrid last week, thanking the city and its people for giving him the greatest nine years of his life, and ultimately crediting the club and its supporters for making him the man he is.
Okay, none of the above actually happened, but when you score 44 goals in 44 games (as he did last season) for the most successful club in the world, then you pretty much get to call the shots. The latest stop on his odyssey is the city of Turin, and the most decorated club in Italian football history, Juventus. Given all Ronaldo has achieved, everything from here on in will by gravy. But just watch him drag the Old Lady to Champions League glory, all the while wearing denim cut-off shorts for which he has a contractual dispensation, and finally sign off to DJ in the Balearic Islands. We will miss him when he goes.
It seems the youth of the Irish Athletic community have little regard for my plea to give them time and space to mature, fail, fail better, etc.
As if in an act of precocious malevolence, the 4x100m women’s relay team took silver at the World U20s championship this week. They were quickly followed by Sommer Lecky securing the same colour medal in the women’s high jump yesterday, and in doing so made it much harder for all of us to remain cool and calm about what the future may hold for these young women. We know already too little women’s sport is broadcast and reported on.
These heroic exploits will heighten everyone’s awareness, and hopefully broaden all our perspectives on the importance of youth participation in sport.
In a summer packed full of superstar exploits, these athletes are the real heroes.