There's a lot more to life than what happens on field
Published 02/04/2016 | 00:00
I have a habit of leaving the Saturday and Sunday newspapers to one side and not getting a chance to read them until after this particular publication is put to bed on Monday evenings.
It stems from a hectic schedule of covering matches and editing copy over the weekend which leaves precious little time for relaxation.
The opportunity didn't arise last week until late Tuesday night. Ordinarily, a match report on Derry City's 2-1 win over Galway United in their game played on the previous Friday wouldn't have aroused much attention, but it was different this time around.
I was immediately drawn to the name of the winning team's second substitute who was introduced in the 66th minute, Joshua Daniels. I read that he was only denied a goal by a terrific save near the end, but I imagine the overall experience would have been a special one for this local boy made good who is pressing hard for a starting place in the Derry line-up.
No doubt he enjoyed his Friday night out with his team-mates afterwards as they celebrated a third win on the trot, and I'm sure his phone was hopping with messages of congratulations from his friends.
Life can change in the blink of an eye though and in the most awful of circumstances, and it will never be the same again for Joshua Daniels and his family after the tragic events in Buncrana a week ago last Sunday.
Just two nights after being on a high after contributing to an important win, Joshua's phone must have been busy once again but for an entirely different, and incredibly sad, reason.
His mother and younger sister were among the five victims of that drowning incident which touched the hearts of an entire nation.
Many people found it hard to get the accident out of their minds during the week, and it resonated in particular with the attendance in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday as Derry City were the visitors for their first game since that Galway clash.
They made the long journey south without Joshua of course, with his number 12 squad shirt absent from proceedings as they struck for a last-gasp winner.
Prior to the game the two teams and the match officials gathered around the centre circle for an impeccably-observed minute's silence, with rival supporters contemplating the enormity of the tragedy once again before the action unfolded.
And at times like this we should all remind ourselves that losing a match or failing to qualify for a final isn't the be all and end all.
Think of that young Derry footballer who was full of the joys of life at the start of that weekend, only to have it altered for ever more just 48 hours later.
Let me state too that this isn't an attempt on my part to occupy the moral high ground, as I know I'm as critical as the next person when it comes to sport.
And, human nature being what it is, in time we will start taking the games too seriously once again before the next sad event occurs to inject us with another dose of reality.
Wexford Youths have only accumulated one point from five games so far and have lost all three encounters at home, but they still have 28 matches to put matters right.
Our county footballers are stuck in Division 4 for another year after failing to gain promotion at the first attempt, but they will lick their wounds and knuckle down to meet Kildare in the championship on May 21.
The knives have been out for some time now in certain quarters as our hurlers go through a prolonged poor patch, and to be honest it's hard to see it improving on Sunday when a high-flying Waterford squad comes to town.
Yet, regardless of what the outcome is, all of us must accept that a series of defeats in big hurling games is hardly a reason for supporters to cut loose and call for the heads of the personnel involved.
Millions of people all over the world couldn't care less about who wins what on the sporting field, because their doors have been darkened by real problems.
Let us all try to bear that in mind, and let Joshua Daniels be a reminder as to the exact reason why.