MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: Checking in for some time in the Good Place

A friend from another media outlet was at Murrayfield for the Ireland-Scotland game a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised to hear a prominent Irish player declare, in the wake of the dismal defeat, that the men in green were “in a good place”.

However, my counterpart was wrong to be surprised that said player saw the silver lining in such a cloud; personally, I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear, once again, of this legendary Good Place able to accommodate everyone that’s staying there.

Everywhere you turn you find someone who’s booked into the Good Place. It’s a great spot. Sportspeople of every stripe can find it comforting, and for many of them it becomes like Hotel California: you can check out any time you want, but do you want to leave? We’ll get back to that one.

Given how the sporting seasons turn, it’s hardly surprising that this location is crawling with rugby players at present.

Late last year, for instance, when Ireland turned the corner in the Autumn Internationals the headline in this paper read: D’Arcy: Irish rugby is in a good place.

However, by last month Ireland appeared to have been evicted in favour of some new tenants.

When England beat France 23-13, their captain Chris Robshaw observed: “We are in a good place right now.”

But how then to explain Sean Lamont of Scotland? Only last week he described he and his teammates as being... guess...

“So yes, we are in a good place right now.”

You will appreciate something about those observations, of course. You are only in the Good Place “right now”, or just “now” because the Good Place can be a fleeting experience, a short-lived fling rather than a long-term relationship.

By contrast, it can be difficult to get out of its nightmarish doppelganger, the Bad Place.

Generally speaking, sportspeople don’t like to acknowledge residence in the Bad Place. If you’re there, then things are not just going badly; things have never been worse.

The most famous resident in the Bad Place at the moment is golfer Rory McIlroy.

After walking off the ninth hole at the Honda Classic there was a good deal of speculation about the man from Northern Ireland, speculation he answered by saying: “I’m in a bad place, mentally.”

Then you have the ultimate nightmare: when you go from the Good Place to the Bad Place, something that can happen all too quickly.

Dublin footballer Michael Dara McCauley was saying before last year’s clash with Donegal in the NFL that he and his team-mates “were in a good place”; unfortunately, after the Dubs tasted defeat against Mayo in a game rescheduled after fog called a halt to proceedings when it was initially played, their then-manager Pat Gilroy said — yes — that: “We are in a very bad place now in terms of the group.”

The Good Place still rules, though. Everyone’s trying to get there, and everyone seems to spend some time there.

Maybe that was where Yogi Berra was thinking of all those years ago.

“Nobody goes to that place anymore,” said the famous baseball star. “It’s too crowded.”


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