Beware the storm when all’s fair down Tipperary way

In Tipp there is a kind of learned instinct that there is a price to be paid for moments of great jubilation and that somebody will be around to collect any minute, writes Larry Ryan
Beware the storm when all’s fair down Tipperary way

The father was buried in Upperchurch. However the wiring works, you remember much of the detail. In Kinnane’s pub after, a couple of the locals were reflecting how they had missed the recent death of Dr Flynn Saunders, Lord have mercy on him, and lamenting the way he was taken so quick, just as himself and Sally were fierce happy.

They were talking, of course, about Home and Away and a controversial RTÉ move to briefly forego the daily 6.30pm repeat of the show during the summer of 2006.

I have no access to a county- by-county breakdown of the TAM ratings, but anecdotal evidence is persuasive that there is particular fondness for the Aussie soap in Tipp.

Lack of coastal access maybe, but also something surely born of an empathy with its central theme, which is, as far as I can see, that you are most vulnerable when things appear to be going grand altogether, when you relax for a moment.

In Summer Bay, you can take it for granted that if somebody tells us they have never been happier, that they are finally in a good place, Yabbie Creek hospital will shortly be called into action or Alf Stewart will be soon leading a search and rescue operation.

And so it is with Tipp. A kind of learned instinct that there is a price to be paid for moments of great jubilation and that somebody will be around to collect any minute.

As Ballyporeen’s Gemma Hayes put it, with a degree of certainty, on Bones and Longing: “There is a storm approaching. And a dark moon rising.”

It is a certain foreboding that might dawn even as a fourth or fifth goal is being rattled in on a good day. Even a fear that this might be the very goal that draws the due date for repayment closer.

It can be detected even as the hurling flows on the sweet afternoons, among the oohs and aahs, when the flicks are coming off and the lads are putting a bit of embroidery on it. Cross men roaring “don’t mind that shit”, and worrying what kind of final demand will pop through the letterbox the next day out.

Outsiders tend to mistake this fatalism in Tipp for arrogance, but in reality it is the fundamental insecurity of a modest people. Whose idle talk of doing a three in a row or a four or a five is just a way of enhancing enjoyment of the one in a row.

What others see as occasional excessive triumphalism is a realisation that you should celebrate fragile blessings while you can. A complicated business, since some have argued that the celebrating plays its own part in the fragility.

And, okay, there might well be small traces of the arrogance there too, historically. When we hear Babs Keating tell us that Tipp were entitled to win every All-Ireland in the 60s, except they were “caught” by a few middling teams in bad games, it might be possible to interpret that, if you were looking for it, as arrogance.

Though you could as easily take the view that just the four All-Irelands in the 60s was a modest enough return, and that even these great men were visited by the fragility, ever now and again. That they sometimes paid the price for presuming things were going grand altogether.

Even Babs was unable to solve Tipp’s modern difficulty with the back to back. Despite Home and Away starting the year before his first All-Ireland win as manager, ringing alarm bells about satisfaction and happiness into homes.

It is a different thing to Corkness, this sense of enormous well-being that overwhelms Tipp in a good year. With Cork, the foundation of entitlement is evidently deeper. Or maybe the ‘what about it, like?’ factor is stronger. But they are better able to cope.

Corkness is less about being bullish without good reason — though they might still win the odd All-Ireland for no good reason — than about being even more bullish when they have every reason.

While Tipp have only managed a three in a row twice — and even Boy George struggled with Culture Club’s third album — Cork have done the three in a row three times and the four in a row once.

When Upperchurch’s Michael Ryan joined the Munster Championships launch in Killarney by conference call, it was surely no coincidence that he couldn’t make it til 7pm, though he had turned off the telly before the call began, so we can’t be sure if he is up to date on Home and Away.

Anyway, he knows the score. The foreboding about this year probably took hold in Mick around 10 minutes before the end of last year’s All-Ireland final. When he saw too many people had never been happier, he knew a dark moon would soon rise.

So on this evening Mick was happy enough to talk about injuries and burnout and setbacks and the beating by Galway and the honeymoon being over and the bubble bursting.

Anything at all to keep at arm’s length the impression things are grand altogether.

He got another small break since when Jason Forde’s ban was upheld. The man who shall be known from now on — thanks to his outraged Silvermines club chairman — as “the most inoffensive man that ever hurled for the club”, will be a loss on the field.

But it might be a fair price to pay for helping to postpone, at least, Tipp’s dangerous moment of perfect calm. Before the approaching storm.

If you enjoyed this you'll love our latest GAA Show on Paper Talk!

  • Anthony Daly recalls the magic of a Munster championship childhood and looks ahead to the big game.
  • John Fogarty assesses all the weekend's matches.
  • We hear from Tipperary manager Michael Ryan on why the Premier have been hyped too much.
  • And Munster Council chairman Jerry O'Sullivan on the future of the provincial championships.

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