MICHAEL MOYNIHAN: The ancient art of sportswriting

Dan Barry of the New York Times picked up an award recently for a stunning in-depth study of a boxer’s struggles, but if I’d been on that jury, a different venture would have won him that particular gong, writes Michael Moynihan.

A few months ago, Barry covered a run of the mill baseball game in a particular way — as though it were 1908. He adopted the idiom of a century ago to give a flavour of sportswriting back then — when the purpler it was, the better (sample: The “mighty Californian” who “smote a home run for the Mets”).

Yours truly thought, if it’s good enough for Dan, and with apologies to bards of long ago, this was yesterday . . .

Bravo Cork! The hardy sons of the valleys of the Lee, stern in all the naked splendour of their magnificent Gaelhood, held sway yesterday in Tom Semple’s field, but spare a thought for the gallant men in Knocknagow’s own blue and gold who lay spent on the grassy sward yesterday in the Cathedral town, every gallant Gael-sinew at the breaking point — and beyond.

Make no mistake, this game will live long in the memory of every Gael who thronged the approaches to the old sports field above the train station. In the hour before the throw-in I met many an old friend with plenty to say on prospects of gallant men from Loughmore, or proud sons of Blackpool. Such a hosting would have reddened the cheek of Davin and Cusack and set their arteries aflame with ardour, surely!

On my ramble in from the outskirts of Thurles, having left my Claude Butler Olympic Sprint on the side of a ditch with a thousand other silver steeds, I breathed deeply of the tonic air of Tipperary, the sweet inhalations filling my lungs with the oxygen that once set Matt the Thresher on the road to greatness. The fields that flanked my feet were verdant meadows where the honest folk of the Premier County putting their scythes and slash hooks to one side and heading for late mass before joining the grand press of Gaels aiming themselves at the venue.

Among them a squadron of clerics sufficient to strike fear into the souls of sceptical, many of them back from the great work being done on behalf of the Gael in dusty fields from Nairobi to Glasgow, a flying holiday to enjoy the stern manly hip-to-hip clashes celebrated by their fathers, yes, and grandfathers, too!

Also present were heroes of yore, the great men who set the soul of the Gael aflame in the old days which remain sharp in the memory of those who were young when those days were young and the young days were yet to grow old for those then still young — heroes now bent and grey and old but still splendid in their hardihood, saluting old foes and celebrating those old crashing days with many a tear and a smile and a heartfelt embrace that went on maybe a minute or two longer than strictly necessary.

The game itself had all the splintering ash and lusty charges that we have come to expect from the combat of the high summer, with tired men inclined to use the hurley over much, but all forgotten at the end of that gallant hour as Gaels embraced Gaels in that most Gaelic of endeavours, the sky turning cloudy overhead and readying itself to weep for another year gone and twelve more months to wait for the great men of Cork and Tipperary...

Cough. Back to myself here. Addictive enough once you get going. By the way, Dan’s effort was deemed a huge success, though the man himself was a little nervous about it afterwards.

“When it comes to crunch time,” said Barry, “you also think you will ruin your career if the thing goes flat”.

Dan, let’s get real. You think this is what’s going to ruin my career?

How Paris look set to trump LA for Olympics

In the department of ill winds, etc, you can almost hear the chuckling from Paris.

I only realised during the week that the City of Lights is down to the last two for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Its competitor? Los Angeles.

Though LA has many attractive advantages, it also labours under one massive handicap. The President of the United States.

Rumours persist that those promoting the Paris bid don’t bother to make presentations when they meet the decision-makers of the International Olympic Committee.

All they need to do is simply hold up photographs of Donald Trump and watch the votes stack up in their favour.

McCarthy finds himself on wrong side of the border

If you’re the same vintage as me you’ll recall Andrew McCarthy as the kind of soulful actor with magnificent hair who had most of the girls of your acquaintance swooning their way through Pretty In Pink or St Elmo’s Fire.

It was the 80’s, what can I say?

I was resistant to McCarthy’s charms but acknowledged his resilience when he reinvented himself as a travel writer, even if ‘travel writer’ is the kind of job - travelling the world, writing about it - that you wonder whether it really exists, like a chocolate taster. Or maybe banking compliance officer.

Anyway, Andrew damned himself out of his own mouth in a Youtube clip I recently had forwarded to me, and I quote: “I thought I’d come from Cork, where most of the McCarthys come from, down the west, but after doing some research and some genealogy stuff, I found out I actually came from Co Kerry.

“Which is like waking up one day and discovering you’re a Boston Red Sox fan after rooting for the Yankees your whole life.

“So immediately I had to switch allegiance. It changed my whole axis of how I thought about Ireland.”

And may I say, it changes the whole axis of how I think about you too.

Passport revoked.

When is a melee not a melee?

Just on the Jason Forde suspension matter. How was the Tipperary man suspended for contributing to a melee when he and one other person were involved?

My admittedly loose understanding of a melee is that several people would have to be involved for it to qualify as a melee rather than just a . . . row. If one person made up half the cast list, wouldn’t he be guiltier of causing a melee than contributing to something one couldn’t actually be involved in?

I don’t know if you could contribute to something you’d begun in the first place. Then again, I am not a lawyer. I am open to correction, as always.


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