Common sense goes missing in the heat

The heat, eh?

Renewing my parking permit last week the lady offered me a second receipt, which doubles as a parking permit until the real one is forwarded on from the bowels of a printing dragon in Cathay, or whatever explanation accounts for the delay of several weeks.

What’s that for, I asked?

The receipts are fading in the sun, the lady told me. That’s why we’re giving out two.

You can see other signs of the influence of the heat. Last week I was in Walsh Park, Waterford, for Clare versus Waterford in the U21 hurling championship, and the heatwave certainly had an impact on proceedings.

Quite apart from the need for fluids (among spectators, never mind those on the field of play), the brownish grass was testimony to the baking heat. It’s doubtful there was a teaspoon of moisture in the soil, which meant the ball skittered like a ball-bearing on concrete whenever it wasn’t in someone’s hand.

I didn’t see anyone strip the top layer of skin from their thighs because of a slip on the well-cooked surface, but then again, I wasn’t examining legs after the game.

We all have our extreme examples of what the heat can do, going back to the all-time example of Irish man versus sun: Steve Staunton, of tropical Louth, in the 1994 World Cup, when the light ginger hair of the Irish defender offered unsurprisingly little protection against the summer heat of Orlando and such spots.

It’s almost 20 years ago now, but even then we knew about the importance of hydration. That’s why it was so astonishing to see a match official not allowing a player to get water in the Clare-Wexford All-Ireland hurling qualifier.

This is a difficult issue to write about, not because it’s contentious or debatable, because it’s not, but because it shows the final victory of officiousness over considerations of health.

The irony is that the usual indictment of common-sense measures in all walks of life is the catch-all term, ‘oh, health and safety’. Here, though, health and safety concerns doubled up as common sense measures, only to be trumped by technicalities.

Consider that a small mercy, however. Consulting one of my most revered tomes, Pete Heller’s In This Corner, a collections of interviews with retired boxers published 40 years ago, I came across the improbable story of one fighter who had to retire early in broiling conditions.

The combination of blood and sweat rolling down his forehead and into his eye sockets was making his eyes revolve independently, and he couldn’t focus on his opponent. Think of that the next time you complain about the sun bleaching out your parking permit.

Taking time out to distinguish tyros from icons

Idle talk in the press box before a recent inter-county game.

“Differentiate between legend and icon.”

“Icon someone you want to be like. Legend can be objectionable.”

“You’d demote an icon for being dislikeable?”

“Right down to legendary status. A legend doesn’t have to carry the friendly gene, remember.”

“Icon: friendly giant?”

“No, finesse that. You’re always surprised by how friendly an icon is, he’s at such a level you’re surprised he has to use actual words instead of communicating by autographs alone. He’s an icon. Iconic, you know.”

“How about legendary? Can you lose legendary status, though?”

“Ah yeah. Former legend. Ex-legend. One-time legend. All valid usages.”

“Veteran legend?”

“Not acceptable. Longevity accepted as prerequisite for legendary status. It’s implicit in the term. Whoever heard of a legend who only played for one or two years? You’re thinking of a journeyman.”

“I think of journeyman as ageless, though. Like a stalwart.”

“No. I’ll give you stalwart as ageless within reason. I give a stalwart five-10 years service on a top team. Veteran anything around 10 years, say an eight-to-10 tariff. Ageless 12 years plus.”

“Anything above that?”

“Tony Browne?”

“Fair enough.”

“What do you have at the other end of the scale?”

“Easy peasy. Rookie, tyro, established, leader.

That’s your first four years on the county team right there. Fifth year, you’re a stalwart. You’ve moved up to the other table.”

“How do you rate the rise?”

“Tricky at times. Dazzling or meteoric depending on the progress.

Minor to senior in one year, dazzling. Meteoric if it’s a bit slower.”

“How can dazzling outrank meteoric?”

“You can’t have a meteor without dazzle, so dazzling comes before meteoric. Of course you can always go for broke with unprecedented, but it’s dangerous. Very dangerous.”


“Because you’re being definitive. You’re saying absolutely that something’s happened that never happened before. Categorical. There’s always someone who’ll contradict you. Prove you’re wrong.”

“Facts. That’s bad.”

“Yeah, empirical stuff. Right-or-wrong territory.”

“Empirical. Don’t like that.”

“Nah. Keep to opinions.”

“Hey, keep it down, the pair of ye. Some of us are trying to work here.”

Calling North Mon’s 1983 All-Ireland U15 heroes

I used to put my e-mail address on the bottom of my column, and any time I remember I still do, but I have a particular reason for doing so today.

Last week, John Healy, an old comrade from the North Mon, got in touch about a reunion he and a couple of co-conspirators are planning.

Thirty years ago the school’s U15 football team won an All-Ireland colleges title in Croke Park, beating the Abbey CBS of Newry in the decider after extra-time.

In the interests of getting as many of the protagonists together in one place at the same time, John and company have asked for some publicity.

Happy to oblige: if you or anybody you know knows anybody who was on that North Monastery U15 team in 1983 let me know here at and I’ll relay their contact details on to the organisers.

Will Bruce effect spark boards into action?

Bruce Springsteen played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Thursday night. I was not at the concert because while I enjoyed Tunnel of Love and his greatest hits has a few good numbers, I don’t know if I could take three and a half hours of listening to myself, let alone anybody else.

But that’s not to say I begrudge others their fun (you do, though — several hundred easily irritated Twitter followers), by all means sing along to all those floor-fillers from Nebraska if you like.

What’s interesting to me is the possibility other county boards will now kick off a rush in similar ventures, and by similar ventures I mean the middle-aged/elderly musician who attracts fans of a similar and presumably well-behaved vintage (after all, Springsteen does play Nowlan Park in Kilkenny soon). It should lead to interesting contrasts, if nothing else. For instance, I hear the Kerry County Board are interested in Tom Waits.

Will the man who sang The Piano Has Been Drinking (Heavily) play Fitzgerald Stadium? If he does, will he be watched by people who arrived on a Downtown Train? Too easy. Just too easy.

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