Now that the GAA has decided to host the All-Ireland Hurling Finals in July, today’s renewal has given some of the fans a choice they never thought they would have to make.
Traditionally they had fenced this Sunday afternoon as the last day of the British Open and now they face a solid duel between hurling and golf.
Officially, there’s no clash, of course – being Irish, we wouldn’t think of taking our minds off the spin for a second to see the Royal and Ancient game.
When we unofficially ask ourselves whether we are a nation of hurlers or a nation of golfers, the true answer is not so clear. And we’ll find out more this afternoon. I can imagine a lot of multitasking scenes, with the hurling on the big screen at the pub and the golf on the phone on the table.
Many slingers are also golfers, also very good ones, who have even brought a new element into the game with the “Hurley grip”. But our increasing enslavement to golf is not easy for us in times like these. It may not be our de facto national sport (that would be association football), but we’re getting so good at it, in such large numbers, that we should probably ‘own’ it more than we do.
Yes, we’re extremely good at hurling and Gaelic football too, but being world leaders in non-world sports isn’t, as such, quite the same as Pádraig Harrington or Shane Lowry winning the Open.
It’s not just the tens of thousands who play golf regularly, it’s the excellence we bring to the table. In other mainstream sports we have this, shall we say, quirk in the way we build our big stadiums where one of the four teams isn’t like the others. I’ve written here of Aviva and Croke Park as “sawn stadiums” unlike any other in the world, in part due to planning permission issues that don’t seem to exist in any other country either.
In the meantime, if there were the golf equivalent of a soccer World Cup, we’d have enough top courses to host this year, and every four years to infinity. Even within a 20 mile radius of where I live in Wicklow there are several exceptionally good courses – including the European Club which Tiger Woods himself would come to play before the Open Links action.
If this is a foreign game, it’s one Paddy has devoted so much energy to that it might as well be our native genius at work. Is hurling just underdeveloped golf for us? Is farming just an underdeveloped agronomy that we now use for the vital purpose of maintaining green speed and fairway consistency? Was that golf game, that addiction, really always the target of our best energies?
Not that we see this as an either/or proposition. With this immense ruse on which we have built our empire, we have forged a kind of secret synergy between our official national sport and the supposed hobby. I have asserted, and no one has disputed me, that there are “GAA” golf clubs and “rugby” golf clubs at our many premier golf resorts.
It’s not just the natural tendency for GAA and rugby people to play golf, it’s a sort of underlying ethos that is best showcased when clubs compete.
Then we see that the ‘rugby’ club will be more casual about the actual outcome of the game, prioritizing the social aspect of the event and the joy of meeting new people in a convivial environment; While the ‘GAA’ club will approach the event with such a fierce desire to win at all costs, you wouldn’t be totally shocked if they arrived with a heavily cloaked Rory McIlroy on the team – playing off a 15 handicap.
Yes, the All-Ireland final is deeply woven into our troubled history, but when the Celtic Tigers reached their climax it wasn’t at ‘HQ’ on Jones Road, it was at the Ryder Cup at the K Club. In fact, the irrational exuberance of the time led to some of the newer golf courses going to Nama, or just going altogether. And it left behind some hilarious clubhouse monstrosities, those Taj Mahals in the middle of nowhere.
And yet the game is so ingrained in the Irish soul that there were many beautiful tracks still playing – you could actually make a lifetime of playing them all. Some no doubt do just that, reminding us of Dean Martin’s manager, who searched for the right word to describe golf and his client’s ordeal until he found what he was looking for: “It’s a disease…”
It also records our social history. On the big plaques in the clubhouses with the names of former captains in gold letters, the doctors and priests of 40 years ago could now be taxi drivers, especially those who are also slingers. So, yes, all of Ireland will be watching the Big One today – whatever that may be.
Media bang their heads on the paywall
If you are reading this digitally, thank you and congratulations. You’ve crossed that weird psychological barrier that prevents otherwise sane people from getting through the “paywall.”
I mention this now because I’ve seen several instances recently of such people sadly speaking about an article they thought was good, but which is behind the dreaded “paywall” – beyond which, by some obscure principle, they can’t walk.
I blame myself. Well, not myself, but our big industry in general, which somehow failed to make a copper-coated argument for their products to be bought with real money like any other product.
When you find yourself on Amazon and reach the part where you have to pay for your book or music, don’t shy away from disgust and start grumbling about that outrageous obstacle called “the paywall.” In fact, this has always been the case in the real world. If you’re reading a physical copy of this paper, you’ve walked into the store where virtually everything is behind a paywall.
Certainly our entire industry has made serious mistakes from the start in dealing with our old friend the “challenges of the internet”, but that is history. Adding to these fallacies is the enduring inability to convey in a simple, ideally humorous, way how utterly ridiculous it is that newspapers are seen as one of the few things in the world that don’t cost money.
With all the communication power at our disposal, can’t we come up with an amusing advertising campaign that would change all of that – and make people laugh at themselves and their phobia of the “paywall”?
Like a Berlin Wall scene where you think the guards will shoot you as soon as you get to the top, but turns out you just have to buy the newspaper? Industry bosses reading this have other thoughts, but…let’s say they’re behind the paywall for now.
Tory immediately reaches out when Penny drops a bombshell
Obviously it’s hard to pick a high point from this Tory leadership contest, but there was plenty to savor in the party members’ apoplexy when it was reported that Penny Mordaunt (of Irish descent) is allegedly a supporter of homeopathy – not entirely against it, anyway.
For those on the far right (that’s everyone, really) this was the sliver of “wokeism” threatening to avalanche. It was an affront to the hard facts of the best British medicine to which they are committed.
But Mordaunt might scathingly reply that compared to Brexit’s stupid belief system, homeopathy is an established science.
But she won’t.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/golf-gaining-an-edge-for-a-head-to-head-with-hurling-today-41845285.html Golf gains an advantage for a head-to-head duel with hurling today