It’s always reassuring when the reaction you expect comes along right on cue, isn’t it?
It’s soothing to know that some things can still be relied upon.
Last week I asked whether the ‘root and branch’ examination of Munster Rugby everyone was shouting about should include an examination of the decision to move the training base to Limerick. As anticipated, a lot of the tweets, texts and mails I got on the matter came from the western side of the province, and disagreed strongly.
But disagreed with what? That decision, or the proposed R & B examination?
The resistance to taking a cold look at whether or not the move to Limerick was or wasn’t right tells its own story: it informs the casual observer that no matter what noises are made about what needs to be done, or doing whatever needs to be done, the appetite for real examination isn’t as strong as you’d expect.
What was initially funny about the reaction was the predictable focus on my, ah, origins. Somebody from Cork blowing the Cork trumpet, what else would you expect, etc?
The only problem with that point is its technical rhetorical description, which translated loosely from the Latin is: shooting the messenger. Whether the person asking a question is from Cork, York or Gortahork, does their origin really undercut the validity of the question?
If a decision makes sense then it’s surely robust enough to withstand a simple question when it’s being justified, rather than being elevated into an article of faith which can’t be addressed rationally.
And when I say rationally... I understand that people fight their own corner and love their native heath, but when some correspondents tried to contradict a simple point I made last week about Cork Airport being closer to Musgrave Park than Shannon is to Thomond Park, I pulled out the AA Route Planner.
Just in case I imagined that handy spin in along the Ennis Road was a good deal handier than I remembered.
Sure enough, the presumably unbiased people at the AA suggest a distance of 22 km and a travel time of 22 minutes between Shannon and Thomond Park, while it was 5 km and 8 minutes from Cork Airport to Musgrave Park. Maybe there’s another, faster tunnel under the River Shannon I haven’t been told about; or maybe people get off their planes and head for Cork city via Kinsale. Maybe.
As for a more salient point made to me about the catchments and constituencies of Limerick versus Cork, I said I’d consult the organs of the state: the Central Statistics Office, which stated on its website that the population of Limerick in 2011, city and county, amounted to 191,809; that of the county just across the Shannon, Clare, 117,196; and for the sake of argument I threw in Tipperary, the other county convenient to Limerick: 158,754. All together? A potential target audience of 467,759.
One small fly in the ointment. The population of Cork alone at that time was 519,032, which is significantly bigger than the other three put together. Add in just one of Cork’s neighbours with good transport connections to Leeside, Waterford (pop: 113,795), and there’s a potential constituency of 632,827.
(I took Kerry as being fair territory for both Limerick and Cork. If only, says you . . . ) Of course, it was only afterwards I clocked the flaw in that one.
The CSO is based in Cork. How could they be trusted?
Chatted to Donal O’Grady, former Limerick hurling captain, during the week, and reminded myself while doing so that it’s a pity not all the people I chat to don’t have his courtesy and good humour.
He made an interesting point that people seemed to miss - that the Limerick players are now encouraged to bring their own meals to training so that management can see what they’re refuelling with.
This is at once common sense and a clever touch— you talk to any rugby professionals and they stress the importance of what’s done in the hours you’re not training as well as the time spent in the gym or on the field. Everyone’s aware of the importance of nutrition now, but it can be difficult to match the theory to the practice, particularly for busy youngsters who aren’t too keen on the kitchen. Given the high class physical conditioning of most journalists, though, a similar initiative in press boxes might backfire. One colleague from another outlet tends to bring concoctions that erupt from a tupperware dish like patient zero in a zombie movie. Mind you, he tends to get plenty of room from those sitting on either side, so there’s method in the madness.
Someone who was surely trying to be helpful asked if there was a David Bowie/Glenn Frey sports link I’d be referring to in this week’s column.
Well, Frey was the NFL coach in Jerry Maguire, and as for Bowie, I refer you to a blog post by a good friend of this column, Colm O’Callaghan. If you were unsure about the link between Tomas Mulcahy and Ziggy Stardust, not to mention the Harty Cup, that’ll put you right.
Hard to believe, but Laochra Gael cranks up again in a few weeks with another round of programmes: It seems like only yesterday that I flagged last year’s run.
Regular readers of this column will be aware of the fondness here for the series — it gave me some pause to realise that this is the 14th season — and the line-up for 2015 is impressive: The great Kilkenny defender JJ Delaney, Kerry icon Declan O’Sullivan, former Limerick star Richie Bennis, Armagh hero Steven McDonnell, dual star and top manager John Allen from Cork, six-time All-Star Eoin Kelly of Tipperary, Meath legend and one-time Irish Examiner columnist Trevor Giles, Galway ladies football star Annette Clarke, and an old pal of this column, the one and only Ken McGrath of Waterford.
Having seen the Ken McGrath episode already, I can say the quality is as strong as ever.
The series begins on TG4 on February 21 and will be broadcast on TG4 each Sunday at 5.55pm with a repeat showing on Monday nights at 8pm.
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