The snaking queues of traffic that criss-crossed the town of Buttevant on Sunday as Limerick supporters flocked to Cork and Páirc Uí Chaoimh told an ominous tale for the Green party in the southwest.
In fact, there was heavy traffic between the two Munster metropolises over the weekend as Cork-based Munster rugby fans headed in the opposite direction to Limerick’s Thomond Park.
On Sunday, Limerick Hurling supporters said strange prayers for their local Green Party TD Brian Leddin, vowing to remember him – not – in the next election as his party opposes a motorway linking the two cities.
The 35-minute delay through the town of Buttevant was an eloquent argument for such a long-overdue upgrade. It has to happen if there’s ever going to be a rival for Dublin.
The huge turnout from sports fans in Limerick and Cork over the weekend spoke to the enormous economic and social potential of this corner of Ireland. At Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon, Munster, led by Corkman Peter O’Mahony, beat the Exeter Chiefs in fine style after a very entertaining game.
The atmosphere at the famous Limerick venue was the best it has been in five years. And long after the game, a line of small children waited impatiently to be photographed with their upcoming Münster stars. The young players’ patience told us that their ferocity on the pitch is matched by their good manners off the pitch.
Sunday’s move to Páirc Uí Chaoimh resulted in a parting of paths between the Cork and Limerick wings of the Munster rugby contingent. The Cork Hurlers have been unsuccessful in recent years and previous league wins suggested they could break this negative trend.
The Limerick Hurlers traveled to Cork for their first league game after a poor league run with a draw and a win. The assumption that they were, like Lazarus in the Bible story, “not dead but only asleep” hung unproven.
The young Cork team got off to an early start with excitement in both the first and second halves. But Limerick proved their league campaign had been used pragmatically for training and experimentation, and they eventually emerged as impressive winners. Nothing is won yet and many more fascinating hurling matches lie ahead even as rugby season draws to a close.
As someone who has spent 50 years following Limerick hurlers with disappointments that often followed hope until very recently, and who has lived four decades distant from that home base, I was once again surprised by the sheer joy such a victory can bring. The rugby win was a joy – but the hurling win is far more valuable.
Even after all these years, seeing my team win takes my morale up a notch in a surprising way. As we drove through the Midlands on Sunday evening, a large yellow moon appeared tinted with the green of Limerick.
But back to the other “Greens” – the now embattled party at the top Eamon Ryan. There is some ‘run’ on the Greens these days, with waning support in opinion polls and some animosity emerging with some fellow coalition parties in both Fine Gael and New York Fianna Fail.
Some of these “Green blues” stem from the recalcitrance of the coalition during the tenure; part of this is due to the undeniable success of the Greens in advancing their agenda to tackle the consequences of climate change; and some of that is also due to some looking for attention in the back benches of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which doesn’t reflect well on them.
Resorting to safe but false stereotypes by some in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is both unfair and unhelpful, and risks undermining government stability at a time when we desperately need steady hands at the national tiller. But we also have to recognize that the Greens need to review their own recent behavior and work to maintain trust.
The reality is that part of the government’s current internal discord is also a history of Green party inflexibility on key issues such as infrastructure and roads in particular. It is true that upgrading the Limerick-Cork rail links is worth talking about, and it would be a good thing if that were the case.
But let’s remember that Limerick is almost 100km from Cork and much of the link road resembles a bad back road. The last time I drove it I feared I had made a mistake and veered off the main road and wouldn’t have been overly surprised to have ended up on a farm. It’s not good enough and a freeway connection is badly needed. It is time for the Greens to acknowledge this reality.
Let’s not forget the many prosperous hamlets, villages and towns on either side of the Limerick-Cork link. These would benefit significantly from improved accessibility of both cities. And finally, on wonderful big days like in Cork and Limerick like last weekend, the good folks at Buttevant have a break from polluting traffic.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/great-sporting-days-in-limerick-and-cork-make-a-strong-case-for-that-motorway-link-41564739.html Great sporting days in Limerick and Cork make a strong case for this motorway link