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Dublin: 21 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Loughnane as high as a kite and more of the week's best sportswriting

Do yourself a favour, stick the feet up and read these superb pieces.

Anthony Daly's depiction of Ger Loughnane in 1998 was superbly chronicled.
Anthony Daly's depiction of Ger Loughnane in 1998 was superbly chronicled.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

1Loughnane was as high as a kite the same day. Towards the end of the match, he marched down towards the Killinan End Terrace like a proud general before his adoring army. It stirred the crowd into a craze. Every Clare supporter in the ground was on their feet when Loughnane pumped his fist up to the terrace.

I had one eye on the ball and one eye on Loughnane. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck like spikes. If I was thinking ‘This is payback for 1977, 1978 and 1986’, I can’t imagine what must have been going through Loughnane’s mind, especially as he had played in those Munster finals. 

Anthony Daly allows us a peak into the Clare dressing room as he recalled the maddest championship of all, 1998, in his Irish Examiner column.

2: In the beginning, I made the traditional emigrant’s effort to force-feed my kids excessive Irishness but that faded with time and they forged their own identities, morphing into peculiarly 21st century products of globalisation. They live for their annual fortnight in Cork, call out teachers for twee carry on around St Patrick’s Day, and walk out of the room if the Super Bowl comes on.

Ireland have a number of world class sportswriters and Dave Hannigan is certainly one of them. In this brilliantly written essay, he weaves tales of family life through his experiences in sport after hopping across the pond to live in Long Island.

This description of his son’s flirtation with a new sport is simply priceless.

 Another time, Abe came home and said that thing no Irish father ever wants to hear: “Dad, I want to play lacrosse”. The start-up equipment cost the guts of $500 and forking out that money was still far less painful than having to stand and watch a native American sport hijacked by the suburban middle-class.

They take perverse pride in dressing kids up like stormtroopers so they can hit each other with aluminium sticks. It’s basically hurling, with shoulder pads and without any of the skill, daring or lyricism. He only lasted a month but the helmet still hangs in the garage with all the other sporting relics of two decades.

dave-hannigan-581998 Irish Times columnist, Dave Hannigan. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

3It’s tough, really tough, if you can let me tell you what it has been like bringing up my son as a Forest fan when he has lived in Manchester all his life and, in case you haven’t noticed, there are a few teams up here who might have held other attractions for him.

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If you want to call it brainwashing, I would be inclined to agree given that his class is filled with followers of Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as a sprinkling of Liverpool fans. The teams, to put it another way, who would guarantee the sporting joys that his dad has denied him.

The Athletic’s Daniel Taylor didn’t travel quite as far as Hannigan, swapping life in Nottingham for Manchester. Yet even though he changed address, he could never change club. This personal account of Nottingham Forest’s long decline is marvellous.

 4: Ewing was spent: he had sat beside his locker for over half an hour still in his shorts and singlet soaking his aching knees in huge plastic bins filled with iced water. He has this extraordinary long chiseled face which is always slightly subdued in repose and he sat back that night observing as the younger team mates did their media duties before giddily disappearing quickly into the night. He remains the most enormous human being I’ve ever seen up close. He was only 36 that night but basketball years are like dog years: you age differently.

pro-athlete-basketball Patrick Ewing in the twilight of his career. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Another of our world class operators, Keith Duggan, takes you inside the Madison Square Garden dressing-room, brilliantly explaining the magic of the place.

5: You will struggle to extract any positives from this global catastrophe, but here is one. For those counties who will have star players back in October, either because they never got away or because season-threatening injuries have cleared up, an end-of-year Sam Maguire race is definitely a case of better late than never.

The Herald’s Frank Roche runs his eye over the contenders for the 2020 championship, pointing out how the Covid Gods have shone a light on some counties.

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About the author:

Garry Doyle

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