Breaking bread together may break hostilities

Next Friday there’s a lunch being held in Cork to commemorate the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest feats in the history of Irish sport, the All-Ireland senior double of 1990 won by the men in red and white.

Breaking bread together may break hostilities

When I say it’s timely, I’m not being smart about the anniversary. It’s often the case in Ireland that we don’t commemorate events in any way apart from meeting at funerals, and unfortunately two of the participants in those events quarter of a century ago, Michael McCarthy and John Kerins, are no longer with us.

On that basis it’s good to have the men who made history in one room again. A little greyer and more padded than they were that summer, but recognisable all the same. The fact that the Dessie Fitzgerald Injury Fund and the Friends of Jamie Wall will benefit from the event makes it all the more welcome.

I can’t help feeling there’s an opportunity here for Cork to make something of the future, too. As everybody in the western world now knows, it’s 10 years since Cork won a senior hurling All-Ireland, and five years since Sam Maguire came down the tunnel into Kent Station. As everybody also knows, relations between administrators in the county and some of the main players on those squads are not what they might be, given events of recent years, and that’s putting it at its blandest.

Accordingly, wouldn’t it be a terrific gesture if those 10 and five-year anniversaries were to be commemorated with an event similar to the 25th anniversary lunch being held this week?

If those involved in 2005 and 2010 were invited to a joint event in December, say, as an indication of the Cork County Board’s appreciation for what they achieved for the county, wouldn’t that go some way to getting everybody on the same page?

Granted, some of those on both stages might be resistant to the idea, but if people didn’t turn up, who’d look small and petty in that context?

A lot of the loose commentary about the effects of the strikes in Cork doesn’t take into account that many of those on the player side in those conflicts are actively involved at all levels with Cork teams, but anybody who feels those events don’t still cast a long shadow is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Sitting down to feast on beef or salmon mightn’t be a silver bullet that would finally bind up the wounds, but if everybody involved were in the one place at the one time - has that ever happened, by the way? - then there might be some form of rapprochement glimpsed in the future, even if it didn’t occur by the time the profiteroles came out.

Cynics will probably point to one side being more intransigent than the other and unlikely to back the idea, but what’s the alternative, a never-ending series of sniping and name-calling?

There was a reference to Father Ted at last week’s Cork County Board meeting. To paraphrase that august series, is there anything to be said for saying another mass?

Departing O’Shea will certainly be missed

Last Sunday week was Eamon O’Shea’s final outing as Tipperary hurling manager.

Many journalists will miss O’Shea, not least because of his courtesy: after Tipperary lost last year’s All-Ireland final replay, O’Shea thanked the hacks present in the Croke Park press area for their coverage during the season.

Other impressions last longer, though. PM O’Sullivan made a telling point in these pages last year when pointing out that some of the contributions made by Tipperary players under O’Shea’s watch have not only been in keeping with the traditions of one of the greatest GAA counties, they have enhanced that county’s reputation significantly.

At a time when what we see as GAA values are betrayed by prominent teams, that counts for a great deal.

(As an aside, regarding a management position in another Munster county: how can you have a replacement when you don’t have a vacancy?)

A mature look at kids in sport

A small person in this house has confessed recently to a dislike of the sport of hurling; having slogged through a Cúl Camp earlier in the summer, that small person found kicking a Gaelic football far easier to manage than wielding a hip-high chunk of timber, and the large Mycro helmet is now gathering dust in the corner.

Some of my acquaintances might presume from the above information that I have banished this small person from my sight, but nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t even choke back a “Gaelic football? Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend (etc etc).” This is down to what might loosely be termed maturity, and also a sense of what is appropriate. The appropriate outlook was articulated superbly by one Albert Burnenko for last week.

Burnenko took as his starting point the praise showered on NFL star James Harrison recently for returning trophies his sons had been given for participating in sport. Why? Because they hadn’t earned those trophies through victory.

Some have seen this as a retort to entitlement culture rather than how I see it, the pomposity of a gobshite, and when Burnenko mentioned that Harrison’s sons are eight and six, he certainly had me on his side, which was one of opposition to Harrison’s stance.

His piece is well worth 10 minutes of your time (, but his essential point is that small kids will have plenty of time later on to confront the world’s notions of good enough and earned enough, cruel and arbitrary as those are. The point of being a small kid is to be a small kid, surely.

“The trophy to give back is the one they get for winning,” he said. “It is worse than worthless.”

Hail Caesar and delve into Finnegan’s wake

The books by the bedside have been top quality lately — Two Hours by Ed Caesar, about marathon running, was a fantastic read, one I recommend to you without reservation.

Another book destined to become a modern classic has more than lived up to its advance word. William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is a memoir of The New Yorker writer’s life as a surfer, from 60s California onwards.

I chatted to Finnegan last week, soon to appear here. I wanted to get my board the second I hung up, despite the fact that I don’t have a board. What does that tell you?

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