Like many others I am always glad to see the back of January. The Post-Christmas hangover, dark mornings and evenings, rubbish weather, a long time to pay day and generally a long depressing month. In my own village of Dunloy it wasn’t helped by the fact that too many people were taken from this life long before their time.
I know it is cliched, but events really did emphasise the fact that “life is way too short”.
Tragic events and untimely deaths do tend to put life into perspective and make you realise that life is for living. Whilst sport and hurling for me are extremely important and contribute enormously to living a fulfilling life I would never allow the game to be all consuming to the point that it impacts negatively on other important elements of my life.
Like most things it is about balance and people are increasingly looking for advice and support to living life well. To that end a Community group in the village acquired the services of renowned Clinical Psychologist Shane Martin. The message he delivered wasn’t overly complicated and focused on the need to avoid overstressing about the past and the future which we have no control over.
His mantra was that we need to focus on living in the now and frequently ask ourselves when something is bothering us “Does it really matter?”
You may well be wondering what the relevance of this is in a hurling column. Well this week I was saddened to hear of the back story behind the Clare and Wexford game at the weekend.
The respective managers Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald were full back and goalkeeper in the Clare golden years of the nineties when they won two All-Ireland titles.
They were teammates in a band of brothers who under the guidance of Ger Loughnane achieved the ultimate success.
They were great friends but regrettably now they no longer speak to each other and couldn’t even bring themselves to shake hands before or after Sunday’s game.
The sad thing is that they fell out over hurling, the game that had brought them so close together in the first instance.
I am sure they both have their reasons for the fall out but all I could think of was Shane Martin’s words of “Does it really matter?” that much that you would stop speaking to a friend.
I suppose my point is that our game should be about bringing people together and whilst creating rivalries is a necessary part of competition we should never lose sight of the need to respect each other and not let it get to the point that it ever becomes spiteful. To some that might sound soft and there is a view that nice guys don’t win anything but to me it is not about being nice. It is entirely possible to be ultra-competitive and respectful at the same time. In the case of Lohan and Fitzgerald it appears to date back to an incident at the Fitzgibbon when they were managing rival Limerick teams and has now escalated into something that may never be fixed. Sometimes a relationship breakdown can be irretrievable and when that is the case it may be best for all concerned to just move on as you can’t force people to get on. In the game itself Clare came out on top with Tony Kelly oozing class in a positive performance for Brian Lohan’s men.
In other news from the weekend Tipperary were beaten by Cork to suffer their second defeat in a row though I am sure Liam Sheedy is far from pressing the panic button. Limerick, my favourites for honours this year secured a second victory with an impressive performance against Galway which showed the strength of depth they have. For me they have the strongest squad and on song are the best team in the country. Kilkenny, their nemesis from last year, had a comfortable victory over Carlow again emphasising how much work the McDonagh teams must do to get to the top tier level.
From an Ulster perspective Antrim overcame a very poor Mayo side in a game that wasn’t a great advertisement for winter hurling. Heavy underfoot conditions and rain didn’t help but Antrim did what they had to do. Much tougher tests lie ahead.
In 2B Derry followed up their victory against Down to record a hard-fought win in London which puts them in pole position for a real promotion push. Down recovered from last week with a comprehensive win over Roscommon whilst Armagh recorded a second victory to go top of 3A with success over Monaghan. Ollie Bellew’s Cavan got their first win in 3B with victory over Ulster rivals Fermanagh, however, the biggest result for an Ulster team was Donegal’s demolition of Tyrone in Omagh after their disappointing start last week against Armagh.
Next week sees a break in the League action so I plan to go to the opening of the Davitt’s pitch in Belfast on Saturday where Antrim will face the All-Ireland champions Tipperary. A great coup for Davitt’s who are doing tremendous work in the development of the game. Fair play to Tipperary who deserve enormous credit for accommodating the fixture and with depressing January behind us life is too short to miss a great opportunity to see the best in Ireland up close.