I didn’t realise until over the weekend that it’s 20 years since Radiohead released OK Computer.
Don’t worry, I won’t be troubling you with my thoughts on music apart from pointing out the obvious - that said album isn’t very influential simply because it was pretty inimitable when it was released, and that hasn’t changed since.
Lyrics like “Riot shields, voodoo economics/It’s life, it’s life/It’s just business, Cattle prods and the IMF” sound eerily prescient from our present vantage point. Anything else foreshadowed during that year?
Clare won the hurling All-Ireland in 1997, copperfastening their reputation not only as a great team, but fixing the change that had come into hurling for the game’s future: physical fitness and conditioning would from then on be a prerequisite, and no team with All-Ireland aspirations could afford to ignore that side of their preparations.
In Gaelic football there wasn’t the same novelty: Kerry won a first All-Ireland since 1986. The significance of the victory for the Kingdom was various: they had quality young players who gained valuable experience for their dominant period at senior level, while it also created an expectation of winning in a new generation within the county.
There were also the beginnings of a coaching tree which benefits Kerry football to this day. Páidí Ó Sé managed Kerry to that All-Ireland: one of Kerry’s current selectors, Maurice Fitzgerald, lined out at corner-forward on that 1997 side. Another selector, Liam Hassett, captained the team.
Another man destined for management started to make waves that year as well.
Ronan O’Gara was only 20 in 1997 but he was still old enough, and good enough, to play for Munster that autumn in the European Cup.
In time he would become synonymous with the competition, and his calmness at out-half would steer his province to glory in many a tight corner in Thomond Park and in grounds from Leicester to Toulouse and all points in- between: 1997 was the first glimpse of the man whose kicking accuracy would guide the red jerseys for a decade and a half to come.
Another newcomer that autumn 20 years ago would influence his sport as much as O’Gara. Coventry City v Norwich doesn’t sound like the platform for a stellar career involving World Cup goals which brought a nation to its feet, but in August 1997 a teenage Robbie Keane made his first appearance for Coventry in that game.
The centre-forward - like O’Gara, but in his own way - bore the scoring hopes of a nation for many years. He began as he meant to go on, scoring twice against Norwich.
It wasn’t all good news that year, though. Incredible as it may seem to those of us sentient at the time, it’s 20 years since Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear and spat it on the canvas during a boxing match in 1997.
At the time the savagery of the act seemed to preclude any acceptance in polite, or even bad-mannered, society.
That kind of presumption seems strange now with the weird rehabilitation of Tyson, appearing in cameo roles in movies.
Maybe that was one of the big lessons of 1997, just how bizarre the second or third acts in one’s sporting life could be.
Who could have imagined what lay ahead of the Masters champion that year, the youngest-ever winner of the tournament?
If someone had told you at that time about Tiger Woods’s future travails with crashing into fire hydrants and so on . ..
“I’d tell all my friends but they’d never believe me,” said Radiohead on OK Computer.
“They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely.”
Cork still at the heart of sporting greatness
Is it time to talk . . . Corkness?
Leesider Peter O’Mahony was announced as captain of the Lions during the week, though I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who grimaced at Graham Rowntree’s well-intentioned comparison to another Munster player (“He has that Paul O'Connell kind of DNA in him”). That game bookended a seven-day stretch which began with a pitch invasion by those in red and white after another sparkling display by the Cork hurlers in beating Waterford to reach the Munster hurling final.
The same day of the hurling game the rowers of Skibbereen picked up another couple of medals, at the World Cup II in Poznan, strengthening the case for Statio Bene Fide Carinis to be emblazoned on the Irish rowing singlet.
Cork City continue to dominate the League of Ireland at their apparent ease, beating Derry with ten men last Friday night.
The south has risen again. As if it had ever fallen.
Coaching the Madrid way
I enjoyed a BBC radio documentary on Real Madrid last week - Inside Real Madrid was presented by Columbia Business School professor Steven Mandis, who got unprecedented access to the Spanish club, and even sat down for a chat with Florentino Perez, the club president.
There’s a reason Perez is a powerful multi-millionaire, of course - he kept Mandis at arm’s length with quite an amount of woolly platitudes about spirit and togetherness, and some of the financial triumphs of this plucky yet vast conglomerate . . . but there were some gems.
In my innocence, I was surprised to hear, for instance, that if Real are playing at home, then all the players drive to the stadium the day before the game. They leave the cars there and get bussed to the training complex, where they sleep for the night, and then bus it back for the game the following day.
I can only pray no inter-county manager gets to hear this podcast, otherwise you know what you can expect.
Make sure to drink plenty of water... but not too much
Fresh from the department of not having enough to worry about as it is, I am informed of the dangers of hyponatremia, which is a “potentially fatal” condition involving sodium levels in your blood being lowered dangerously owing to . . . drinking too much water.
Given temperatures last week and the advice to lower as much H2O into you as possible, this takes its place as the latest headache to bear in mind. It’s also reminiscent of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, when the protagonist awakens in the 22nd century and finds everything once thought unhealthy is now, thanks to the vagaries of medical opinion, now considered good for you (“Get the smoke deep into your lungs.”)
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