Great drama on and off the pitch

We had marvellous hurling matches on Saturday and Sunday and it was great. They were on RTÉ both days which meant I didn’t have to go out to visit to see either of them, but could sit in my chair in my own home and revel in the sport of it.

First on Saturday was Kilkenny versus Limerick, with the final score Kilkenny 1-21, Limerick 2-17 – just 24 to 23 points. Imagine a hurling match of such intensity that point was followed by point, point by point, and so it went on. I marvelled, as I’m sure many of the readers did, at the skill of the men on the pitch with their hurleys, and the way they were able to run, chase, change, and keep the ball in play. It was truly incredible.

As we all know, Limerick were the All-Ireland hurling champions last year, and I thought that that would, for a while, dampen down Kilkenny. But no, they were back in full form, and playing really liberating hurling.

Many observers are saying that for this summer anyway, hurling has become the game to watch, because of the inevitability in the football of the long road leading eventually to Croke Park and to defeat by Dublin. There is uncertainty on the hurling field, none more so than this year, when the closeness of the results shows that the teams are equal, and they demonstrate that by giving us, the spectators, great drama.

Also, they bring the crowds with them, and on both Saturday and Sunday huge numbers turned out to see the two great games.

On Sunday it was Tipperary versus Wexford, another All-Ireland hurling semi-final, with Davy Fitzgerald of Wexford and Liam Sheedy of Tipperary. The final score was Wexford 3-20, Tipperary 1-28 – two points in the difference.

That was a really great game and I wallowed in it. In the ferocity and skill of both teams, they were akin to something that must have been on the fields of Ireland hundreds of years ago. I myself was sorry to see Wexford beaten. As I said before in these columns, they are a team that play with might and main, and with full determination, but on this occasion it was not to be.

The manager Davy Fitzgerald has brought hurling in Wexford from a low to a very high point. I hope that he stays on, as there are hints that he may move back and that he finds the journey from Clare over to Wexford for the constant training very overwhelming. But we’ll wait and see.

For the present, it is enough to give full congratulations and thanks to the four hurling teams for a great weekend of sport.

Did you watch any of the cricket? Now, I am not at all a cricket fan. I don’t understand the game, I don’t know what the score means, and I fail to see the enjoyment in it, except that the guys playing all look really well in their immaculate whites, but after that I can lose it. However, I had a great laugh when Ireland, on the first day of the Tests (as they call them ) looked like overcoming England, the country of cricket.

I smiled also when I saw Theresa May in the crowd with two of her cabinet colleagues who had left before being sacked by Boris Johnson. The trio looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

Then of course we had the whole spectacle of Boris being voted firstly leader of the Conservative party, and then being inaugurated into Downing Street and becoming prime minister. I watched the next day when he gave his opening speech in the House of Commons. It was shown completely on BBC in the morning time. I was free and could indulge myself in gazing at it with no intrusive ads, just his speech and the questions from Jeremy Corbyn.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was an electioneering speech; indeed he could have been on the back of a lorry or platform in County Westmeath or Louth or any other county in Ireland. He plainly was in a campaigning mode, used the language of elections, and proceeded to lay out what goodies he would bring to the UK in the guise of 20,000 more police officers, 10,000 more teachers, 10,000 more nurses, etc, etc. It was like an election manifesto of the old days. I have no doubt that he’s bent on having a general election, quite soon.

We can say what we like about him, but he is there as prime minister, and Europe and Ireland will just have to cope with all the dilemmas which that throws up for the future. Over the last number of days, and particularly over last weekend, it looked like there was a standoff between our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister. Neither would ring the other, and so the speculation grew.

Finally on the day I’m writing this, Tuesday evening, telephone contact had been made and they had, by all accounts, a constructive 15-minute discussion together. Now I’m glad they have made contact, but I don’t know what the future holds. Boris Johnson has been quite emphatic that he wants a deal, but with absolutely no backstop in it, and if there is he will just have a no-deal Brexit. Where does that leave us? Where does that leave Europe? Where does that leave the Good Friday Agreement, and all of the underlying commitments contained therein?

We will have to wait and see, but there will be very little summer vacation time for any of the main political players in all this drama, or indeed for the valuable civil servants in any of the European countries who will be trying to make sense of it all.

Last Thursday night I was on the last Tonight Show on Virgin Media One with Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper and a very lively panel. We will miss that show because they have closed now for the month of August, but they will be back in early September. I would dearly love if it could be on at 10pm and finish at 11pm, instead of the present from 11pm to midnight. I always find watching it that I tend to nod off before the end comes around. It’s a very good political show, and keeps everyone up to date with what is happening internationally and at a domestic level.

I have just finished a wonderful book by Rosita Boland called Elsewhere. I know I have mentioned it before, but having completed it and thought about it, I would highly recommend the readers to either get it in the library or buy it in Eason’s or any of the paper shops. It is truly well worth a read.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer weather and go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke

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