An uncomplicated, successful sports man and drink craze

Compare and contrast

AS someone into sport, one of my great recent reads has been ‘Cody, the Autobiography’, by Brian Cody who is the Kilkenny hurling manager. He is more than that, of course, for he just happens to be the most successful Gaelic games manager of the last decade. He had broken all records since taking over as team manager in late 1998. In eleven seasons he has presided over seven All-Ireland championship wins, ten Leinster titles and five National League titles. This year he is going for his fifth All-Ireland title in a row!

Many readers may know little about hurling: it is an ancient Irish field game, played with a ball about the size of a tennis ball, but this one, called a sliothar, is a parcel of hard, rounded leather with a seam and it is sent hurtling through the air by skilful use of a hurley stick, made of ash, at speeds of well over 100 miles per hour and capable of travelling over 100 years with a single hit. It is reckoned to be the fastest field game in the world, played by 15 players on each side, and when played well is sheer class. In his book, physicality, artistry, speed and accuracy are cornerstones of the game. And how!

Cody, a teacher by profession (he does not get paid to train his players, and neither do they get paid to play) is a man commanding immense respect within the game. His book gives a unique insight into the life and times of a man whose name has become a symbol for all those who strive for success. It’s about self-belief, honesty, spirit and respect and reveals the secrets of how to turn adversity into remarkable triumph.

Unlike so many sports’ coaches, he does not ban spectators from his training sessions, and he does not bother expending energy on the things he has no control over: he largely respects the views (even sometimes critical) of the sports pundits as their right, does not criticise referees or officials, does not worry about upcoming venues for his games, or what rival managers think of him or his team. All of these are outside his control, is his firm belief.  And he has even been known to take a broom and clean out dressingrooms after training sessions! What a breath of air in such a complex, paranoid world of sport! Parched with the thirst…….

Funny little country this…………..

Here we are in the midst of a recession, with half a million out of work, people losing their companies and their homes, and probably even their lives, and one of the biggest media stories is about drink, or the lack of it on Good Friday in Limerick when Leinster play Munster in the aptly Magners League.

Believe it or not, when the drink law is observed (in these cases it is not always observed) there are only two days in the year when alcoholic drink can’t be sold, Good Friday and Christmas Day. Now that the move is on to overturn what is called one of the last relics of Catholic Ireland, it can’t be long before the right to buy alcohol on Christmas Day in your local will also be established.

And sure nothing better than the right to be able to skip down to the pub on Christmas morning while your partner and the kids get on with unwrapping the gifts, putting on the turkey and all the trimmings and waiting for the other partner (mindful of not being accused of being sexist, let me add ‘male or female’ as appropriate!) to stagger home in time to eat it while it is still hot.

Yes, a great little country indeed, where our young can compete with the best in the world when it comes to binge drinking, where drink still plays a significant role in road accidents, in domestic violence and in family strife, where we cannot have a christening, a first holy, a christening, a wedding or a wake without a skinful. No wonder the lads heading off to a game on Good Friday are feeling a bit peeved that they won’t be able to slate their thirst. Poor things.

Wonder how much of the 3.5million euro they would usually spend on drink and soul comforts on these occasions will still remain in their pockets. Or maybe they should just donate it all to the Government sort out some of our HSE problems. Willie O’Dea, our erstwhile Minister for Defence, might even go around with a bucket and pick it up from them outside Thomond Park iof his call for a change in the law does not kick in before the Good Friday event!

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