The beauty of being there

Midway through the first half of the National Hurling League game between Galway and Dublin in Salthill on Sunday, the stadium announcer proclaimed that somebody had handed in a house key, a “sort of elaborate-looking house key” to be more precise, and that it could be reclaimed from the stand at halftime.

As the crowd looked at each other wondering if the key was for some sort of an elaborate house, or if it was the key itself that was elaborate, it was what happened next that led me to believe that the boom is back.

Like a sweet sound of light applause, came the sound of 6,000 people patting their pockets to see if it was their’s. And a sigh when all but one discovered when it wasn’t. I’d say there were people there who didn’t even own a house who patted their pockets in the hope.

As Galway plotted their way to an inevitable but dogged win against a limited Dublin team, the announcer was often the best entertainment. There was a message about a lost child who didn’t seem to be really lost at all; and then there was the message to the owners of a Kia to shift their butts and move their car from some nearby gateway “because the Guards will be there waiting for ya.”

There is a beauty to watching live sport that is lost when you sit down in front of your TV. As part of the crowd you can feel you played your part in a way that you never can from the remove of your sittingroom.

In 300 days time, we celebrate with Europe the richness of the culture that abounds in our city, but even without that honour, we are fortunate to have enjoyed many form of culture in our time. And our love of sport is a big part of this. It removes in us the need for emotional warfare; it transfers tensions and worries on to the fortunes on the pitch, and when it goes right, and when your team wins, there is rarely a feeling like that you have in your heart when you walk away from a match, commiserating with the vanquished but secretly loving the maelstrom that has been created in your head.

There is a beauty to sporting occasions that can only be replicated by being there. Tomorrow night, Galway offers up a chance to be present at another sporting occasion.

At teatime tomorrow evening, Galway United fans are set to revive an age-old tradition of Reclaiming the Dyke — when they take part in a symbolic march from The Plots to Eamonn Deacy park where they will face a hightly-rated Shelbourne team. The march will be led by young Ethan Leonard, a young man whose football-following enthusiasm is legendary. He will be joined by former players and by several thousands of the likes of you and me who I hope will come along to carry on the tradition, to create another sporting occasion for Galway, and to cheer on the team who will wear the colours of the club in this unique season.

For two or three hours tomorrow, myself and my family, and many other families will be part of it. Doing our part to create memories for a new generation who in time will appreciate the experience you are enabing them to share.

Treat yourself to an evening of live sport. To be in there at the start of an exciting project, to remove yourself from the world of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar; to see youth being given a chance to establish itself. To see a Galway team created from scratch playing for the shirt. To feel the rawness of being close to the action.

Our President who knows a thing or two about what defines culture, what constitutes poetic vision, will be there to support this club that if nothing else, has always remained fascinating and interesting.

Get behind the drums tomorrow evening. Join the tribe, feel part of a new us. Be united behind United.

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