From the heat of battle to a battle with heat

I see the train tracks are next for the chop. Sorry for the Flann O’Brien-type line, but I learned during the week that the rising temperatures being caused by climate change are causing havoc with British railways.

From the heat of battle to a battle with heat

I see the train tracks are next for the chop. Sorry for the Flann O’Brien-type line, but I learned during the week that the rising temperatures being caused by climate change are causing havoc with British railways.

The tracks are not designed to deal with that level of heat, and are therefore expanding too far, which means in turn that they may all have to be replaced.

Like everyone else, I too have said, ‘If this is global warming give us more of it’ when the sun beats down, but this ceased to be a functional joke some time ago. If something as fundamental as railway lines can be affected by this, what does it mean for sport?

Last summer I was in Austin Stack Park Tralee for Cork and Kerry at U20 level, and the heat was searing. Literally.

There were water breaks planned for the game, and if anyone present was unhappy with the potential break in momentum, after about five minutes it was clear they were needed in the stand, never mind on the field.

In fact, if a player had been clean through on goal and a water break had been called by the match officials I think he’d have gladly dropped the ball and dived on the nearest cold bottle.

That wasn’t a random roasting day last summer, either: one of the Cork players was treated for symptoms of heatstroke following the 2018 Munster senior hurling final.

Changing climate patterns, and more extremes of temperature — particularly heat — need to be considered by sporting bodies at all levels, and the introduction of mandatory water breaks needs to be a matter of priority, particularly if your sports are played during the summer.

Last year, for instance, the Offaly County Board introduced five-minute water breaks in each half for games played in hot weather, while a Tipperary referee decided unilaterally to halt a junior game in the county after 20 minutes to allow players to take on water.

Those were welcome shows of initiative, but the GAA would do well to factor in water breaks rather than leaving implementation to the discretion of a referee.

By the way, it turns out heat is far more dangerous than cold. Reading a recent issue of Outside magazine your ghoulish columnist was instantly drawn to a piece headlined ‘What It Feels Like to Die from Heat Stroke’. What was interesting was this comparison of temperature extremes: “The lowest body temperature a human has been known to survive is 56.7 degrees (13.7C), nearly 42 degrees below normal (37C is normal body temperature),” according to the authors, Amy Ragsdale and Peter Stark, referring to a Swedish woman who was stuck for 80 minutes in a frozen stream, but survived.

The highest body temperature someone has been known to survive, however, was only 17 degrees above normal.

“Willie Jones, a 52-year-old Atlanta man, was rescued from his apartment during a heatwave in 1980,” they wrote. His internal temperature was 115.7 (46.5C) at its highest, and he spent three and a half weeks recovering in hospital.

The piece noted that 30 high school football players have died in America from heatstroke in the last 20 years.

And heat-related illness kills more people in the US than “hurricanes, lightning, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods”. If that sounds alarmist or extreme to you, so be it. But remember the train tracks.

Airport in Ryder Cup rough

Not content with winning the All-Ireland in hurling last year, Limerick is honing in on Shane Lowry country by snaffling the Ryder Cup for 2026.

I think we can park the intercontinental slagging for a while — almost a decade in fact — and wish all in Adare Manor the best with the event.

After all, it’s an ill wind and so on; as a pal of this column pointed out, if it takes Rory McIlroy playing golf to force a motorway to be built between Cork and Limerick...

Mind you, it was notable that Dublin Airport decided to position itself as the main gateway to the Ryder Cup.

It seemed a little desperate that the airport would try to establish its primacy so far in advance of the actual event, never mind the fact that every tour organiser and tourism operator in America/Europe could surely see how far Dublin is from Adare.

Feel free, though, to remind me in seven years time that every wealthy golf fan who lands down into Limerick is saying, “I’m only here because I got to arrive at Dublin Airport, thank God.”

Will is ‘doing stuff’ with his words

In the latest communication from the Department of What Are The Kids At, I note comments emanating from the Australian rugby team regarding one James O’Connor, and his change of mindset while training with his teammates.

One of his teammates, Will Genia, offered this deeply affecting testimonial: “Tuesday nights, James was always out and about doing stuff because Wednesday we have off.

"Tuesday night in the last three or four weeks that we’ve had, he’s in his room stretching, doing what it takes in terms of recovery. He understands that this is a huge opportunity for him.”

I love that “doing stuff”, which is the kind of weaponised euphemism that begs to be deployed.

If the name James O’Connor rang a distant bell for you, he was the man photographed with teammate Kurtley Beale and a Lions supporter as they all looked for the best Hungry Jack’s fast-food outlet in Melbourne could offer.

At 4am. Three days before playing the Lions themselves.

All of which is by way of a preamble to my most pressing takeaway from Genia’s comments on the apparent redemption of his fellow Wallaby.

Who can find somewhere “out and about” to be “doing stuff” on a Tuesday night?

Mysteries. Murders. Masterpieces.

A good mate of this column will be very happy to see that David Szalay has a new book out, Turbulence, while many a mate and a good few enemies will have noted that Megan Rapinoe has signed up to write a book.

Rapinoe was the undoubted success story of the recent Women’s World Cup: she surely won’t stop her outspoken ways when she has blank pages in front of her.

As for myself, I had a flick through In Cold Blood by Truman Capote again this week because of a piece I saw in the New York Times Book Review.

They took every state in the US and nominated a true-crime book that tells you something about that state.

In Cold Blood was the nearest to my hand, but I’m fonder of two other nominees I have at home: Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by David Simon (Maryland) and Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Oklahoma). Masterpieces.

Orders for Hungry Jack’s and cold water,

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