Sporting Antidote to Gloom and Doom
Deaglán de Bréadún
Your humble scribe was fortunate to be among the 82,000 attendance at today’s thrilling All-Ireland Hurling Final where Tipperary overcame Kilkenny despite the latter’s hopes of making it five Liam McCarthy titles in a row.
It was a refreshing break from all the gloom and doom over the economy, Anglo-Irish Bank, etc., etc. Croke Park really is a Field of Dreams and it was wonderful to see the huge effort and massive skill displayed by these two teams.
No doubt Kilkenny team manager Brian Cody is disappointed not to make it five in a row but it has to be said that such a level of dominance by one county is not good for the game in general. Cody has many great achievements to his credit and can hold his head high – some would say the man should be running the country. Incidentally, I noticed Taoiseach Brian Cowen and one of his predecessors, Liam Cosgrave, in attendance.
It was a near-perfect sporting occasion and another triumph for the Gaelic Athletic Association which contributes so much to our national life. But I have two quibbles: 1) When the minor match concluded with a Kilkenny victory, the public address system blared out a distracting and unnecessary pop music track from the Black-Eyed Peas. We couldn’t hear speeches or applause or cheering as a result. Why?
2) Secondly, the Artane Band was – no pun intended – badly sidelined. Instead, there was some sort of banner display on the field involving children and balloons that looked like sliotars (hurling-balls). They held big sheets with the colours of the two counties and there didn’t seem to be much point to the exercise.
The Artane Band used to play tunes from the competing counties, e.g., Slievenamon for Tipperary and Rose of Mooncoin for Kilkenny. It contributed greatly to the occasion and the sense of county identity. Not today, at least not after I arrived, which was during the second half of the minor match. The only tune I heard them play was the National Anthem. What a pity. Bring the Artane Band back centre-stage, I say.