There’s still a few days to be crossed off the calendar but we’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that the first September in living memory without a pair of All-Ireland men’s senior finals at its core will come and go without the sky falling in and the very fabric of the GAA having been ripped asunder.

It’s nearly six weeks since Limerick bridged the gap back to 1973, almost a month since Dublin claimed their four-in-a-row, and the world has kept turning. 

It’s been different, no question about that, but sport abhors a vacuum and the days and nights since September 2 have been filled with a minimum of fuss.

The contention was that rugby would be the big winner in the association’s decision to curb their inter-county season by a few weeks but where is the proof to back that up?

The Guinness PRO14 seems to be earning greater respect and attention from rugby aficionados, but is it making fewer inroads with floating voters?

That may change but the GAA’s fluctuating seasons won’t dictate the direction of the tide.

Other diversions have served to keep boredom at bay. We can’t be the only one to have rediscovered the joys and torments of fantasy football and the strangely unsettling wait to see if Troy Deeney has done the business for Watford on a Saturday afternoon.

There’s always something. Always.

The Ryder Cup steps up to the plate today, it’s manufactured patriotism and gaudy golf wear ready to shepherd us into October when our sporting menu will revert to more recognisable fare courtesy of the usual Champions Cup fixtures, county hurling and football finals, and all washed down with the usual gallons of soccer.

JP McManus in the victorious Limerck dressing room after their All-Ireland final win over Galway.
JP McManus in the victorious Limerck dressing room after their All-Ireland final win over Galway.

Truth be told, the dip in pace has been welcome the last few weeks.

It’s hardly heresy to suggest that the problem with elite sport is that there is just too damned much of it and the manner in which the All-Ireland championships were squeezed into the corset that was such a constrained schedule this summer only emphasised the treadmill nature of modern life and the regret that we haven’t more time to let it all sink in.

September, with its new ‘less more’ motto, has allowed us to step back and take a more considered view. 

Testimonials and tributes have sprung up like mushrooms in a darkened forest and they have reminded us of great people and places and performances from distant days across the sporting spectrum. That’s no bad thing.

The last week alone has been a bonanza of nostalgia.

It kicked off on Saturday evening at Dublin’s Burlington Hotel with a gala tribute to Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, moved on to South Great George’s Street the next morning with the launch of a weekend celebration of Mick O’Dwyer by his local club in Waterville and then picked up pace as the working week arrived.

Monday evening brought a tribute to Jack Charlton and his teams from 1988, ‘90 and ‘94, held at the K Club. 

Tuesday gave us the wonderful celebration of Liam Miller’s life at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Wednesday presented a testimonial dinner for Leinster’s Isa Nacewa.

Linking them all were the funds raised that will go towards charities and other worthy causes.

Kory, Leo, and Belle Miller with their cousin James Sheedy, second left, at the Liam Miller tribute match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan
Kory, Leo, and Belle Miller with their cousin James Sheedy, second left, at the Liam Miller tribute match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

Old stories were told, some of them given new twists. 

Mick O’Dwyer seemed to be particularly pleased when Eoin Liston and Jimmy Deenihan spoke about how, for all the laps of the field they did in winter, there was a more considered method to his madness when training that fabled Kerry team of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Deenihan reminisced about how he used to tip over to America for the odd weekend to play a bit of ball and how he would nip into a golf shop beside Macy’s to buy a clutch of Ping putters that couldn’t be found for love nor money back home. 

Liston recounted yet again how Micko had cured him of his love of Mars Bars.

It was a similar story in the K Club the next evening. 

George Hamilton MC’d and rattled through the tale of Jackie’s Army with such a simplicity — “And then it was on to Genoa to face the Romanians” — that prompted one guest to describe it as a virtual Ladybird guidebook version. 

But no-one really objected to being held by the hand as we revisited such a glorious time and place.

Liam Miller didn’t live to witness the outpouring of support and emotion for him and his family that centred on his native Cork this week but Mick O’Dwyer, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, and Isa Nacewa did and it felt right and proper that there was room amidst our cluttered lives to take a moment and reflect in such a way.

We should do it more often.

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