Win, lose or draw, it's a victory for all

Sporting gestures are a winner: Jason Flynn of Galway is consoled by Tom Condon of Limerick following the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final  between Galway and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin.

Sporting gestures are a winner: Jason Flynn of Galway is consoled by Tom Condon of Limerick following the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship final between Galway and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin.

The impact of sport will always be greater on a society in which it is valued, and here in Ireland Gaelic football and hurling are as intrinsic to our culture as cricket is in India, baseball in Japan, American football in the USA, or rugby in New Zealand.

Like so many countries, we tend to value ourselves by the success of our teams, particularly when we win. We all want to succeed, and we all want to attach ourselves to that success. The Olympic Games is perhaps the epitome on a global scale how a country attaches such importance to sport - the medal tally an indicator of a nation's supremacy in the world.

Expectation is higher for a team that has already tasted success, but a team that wins against the odds is all the more special, more significant, more treasured, such as when Ireland finally laid to rest 111 years of losing to the All Blacks in Soldiers Field, or when Connacht took the PRO12 by storm. Now Limerick has won the Liam MacCarthy after 43 years, and their joy is immense and well deserved.

However, for the favourites Galway who lost, the hurt is great. For them there is no consolation. But the players should remember the result is not a reflection of their quality, dedication, work ethic, or winning ability - all the best of human attributes. We all face hurdles in life, we all enjoy some success and suffer some downfalls, and that is why sport is no different to life.

To our Galway minor hurlers, congratulations. Enjoy your deserved and hard-earned success, you did yourselves and the county proud throughout the season. The sentiments are no different for our senior players. Yes, you will feel you could have won, had the ability to win, but you didn't. Such is sport and such is life.

Accept it, move on, you are still winners, as are the supporters, the GAA, and all the teams which contributed to another successful and entertaining championship campaign in the life of Irish sport and culture. Losing, however painful at the time, is an important part of life. It makes us stronger, teaches us lessons, and builds character - it is said that being a good loser is essential to becoming a winner.

So let's not wallow in self pity, don't rant about what might have been, don't lay blame, or point fingers. The ability to be positive and move forward will determine whether we win or lose in the future. Our hurlers, like many teams representing our city and county, are exceptional men and women. They strive to be the best, but that does not always ensure victory. The bottom line is that we can lose and still come out a winner.

Linley MacKenzie

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